In my garden, I use Gardena sprinklers. I highly recommend this brand. My Gardena sprinklers work as well as they day I bought them four years ago. I set the sprinklers to low and let them saturate the ground–running them for 60 minutes in one spot, then I move them to another section of the landscape. For many years, my friend Jack has irrigated his garden with just a hose and brass sprayer nozzle, but, as his garden has expanded over the last few years, he’s had to resort to sprinklers, too, moving them here and there just like I do. Jack doesn’t own Gardena sprinklers, and he finds the whole process a chore. He’s considering buying soaker hoses. He knows I publish this blog, so he asked if I’d do a little research on soaker hoses and write up my findings. I told him I’d be happy to wrap my mind around hoses for a day or two.
I told Jack that I once had a long soaker hose, but it clogged up after a few years of use. I hear they often do that especially if you water from a non-municipal water source such as a creek or pond. Previously, I had used both a round- and flat-soaker hose, but, again, I can’t recommend them for long-term use. Of the two types, however, I found that the flat soaker hose is better than the round type. I have a hard time arguing in favor of buying soaker hoses. So, another option for Jack to consider would be a drip emitter system. I haven’t personally used one, but I read a lot of good reviews about them online. Jack could easily place an emitter where each plant grows. He would like that aspect of this solution. And emitter systems are known to be more durable than soaker hoses.
Of course, if Jack is set on using a soaking system, he could buy a cheap, regular hose and punch small holes in it, thereby creating his own soaker hose out of more durable material. On many hoses, there is a white stripe that goes the length of the hose. If Jack punches his holes along that stripe, he can be assured of having all of his holes on the same “side” of the hose. Doing so would make it easy for Jack to face his holes in one direction or upside down, instead of having some holes emitting water straight to the ground, others spraying one way, while even others shoot a stream in the opposite direction.
True soaker hoses can often be bought in a bulk roll. Jack could cut the soaker to length for a designated garden bed. It is very easy to put on a female hose end, which can usually be acquired on the cheap at the end of the summer when garden departments slash prices to reduce inventory. As for the other end of the hose, he can save more money by not putting an end on. It is much easier and cheaper to fold the end over and wrap duct tape to hold it that way. It would also allow Jack to open the end up from time-to-time to flush out the line (then re-wrap it). To hold his soaker hoses in place, I suggest that Jack use long yard staples. When he adds a new plant (a regular occurrence these days), he can buy a soaker hose attachment that creates a miniature sprinkler head in the hose line. Or he could buy (or cut) a smaller length of hose that attaches to a head of soaker hose and stretch it to the new plant.
If Jack follows my advice, he won’t get soaked but his ever-expanding garden will.