In most of the US the heat of the summer is upon us. This is the time of year that we see our plants drooping under the hot summer sun and we need to spend more time watering. Hmmm or do we?
Not if you use my secret weapon. This is guaranteed to decrease the time you spend watering your flower beds, giving you more time to relax and enjoy your garden and is one of the main tools I use to create low maintenance garden beds. So here it is. Drum roll please! Install soaker hose.
First of all, what is soaker hose? It is a porous length of hose that allows water to seep out of the pores along the entire length of the hose. You can see how this works in the picture below.
The advantages of installing this hose in your beds are:
- Water drips directly into the ground around the plants. This provides more water directly to where the plants need it most.
- Reduces your watering costs. Since you are delivering the water directly to where the plants need it, you can reduce the amount of water you use and save on your water bill.
- Saves you time. Instead of your needing to stand and water your bed each day, you can hook up a regular garden hose to the soaker hose, turn on the water and come back a short time later to check on whether or not the plants are sufficiently watered. When you've figured out your timing you can even set a timer on your main hose so that the water is turned off automatically.
How's that for saving both time and money?
But, you might say, isn't irrigation expensive. Yes, some drip irrigation systems are expensive but soaker hoses are not. The cost for a 50 ft length of 5/8" soaker hose usually runs around $25.00
Where Can You Use Soaker Hose?
Soaker hoses work best in level beds. Because they work under a low pressure they are not effective on steep slopes. For steeper slopes a drip irrigation system is best. And for watering your lawn, sprinklers are still the best option.
What Do You Need to Get Started?
First a length of soaker hose like the one in this picture. You can find it online or in your favorite home improvement store.
Next you will need something to hold the hose in place. For this you can use landscape staples. Also called sod staples or landscape pins, these handy little guys work perfectly for holding down soaker hose, fencing and more. You can find these lots of places but be sure that you purchase staples that are at least 6" in length. This will ensure that they hold securely.
If your faucet is not a newer faucet that contains a backflow preventer you will need one of these handy devices to prevent dirty water from the hose from running back into your water supply. In some areas they are required on all outdoor faucet connections. Here are two photos of one that I picked up at my local home improvement store.
This gets attached directly to your outdoor faucet as shown below.
A Pressure Regulator (optional):
The hose I purchased does not have a pressure regulator inside of the hose itself so if your water pressure is high you will need to install one on the faucet. Water should seep not squirt out of the soaker hose and if the pressure is too high you can split the hose. Be sure to turn the water on slowly when first testing your hose. Here's are two photos of the pressure regulator I picked up a my local home improvement store.
The pressure regulator gets attached to your backflow preventer before attaching your hose as shown below.
Connecting Hose (optional):
If your faucet is close to your soaker hose you can connect the hose directly to the pressure regulator or backflow preventer. If not purchase a length of regular hose that will reach from your faucet to the soaker hose.
Installing the Soaker Hose
Take your length of hose and uncoil it. You can lay it out in the warm sun to make it easier to handle. One end will have a hose connection and the other will have a cap on it. Start with the end that will be closest to where you will connect to water.
Place the hose close to existing plants. The staples have points that go into the soil on either side of the hose and a curved top which fits nicely over the top of the hose . BE CAREFUL NOT TO PIERCE YOUR HOSE WITH THE STAPLES!
Continue to lay out the hose, securing it with staples every 12-18 inches until you reach the end with the cap on it. This cap remains on the hose in order to make sure the water seeps out of the pores rather than running out of the end of the hose. If you need to add additional lengths of hose, you can remove the cap at the end of the first length and add the second length as shown below.
The last length needs to have a cap at the very end so that the water does not run out of the end of the hose.
When you have finished your bed should look something like this:
Now all you need to do is hook up your garden hose and turn on the water. Water should seep out of the pores of the hose as shown below.
To prevent evaporation, you can now add a layer of mulch over the hose and around your plants.
That's it! You now have your own low cost irrigation system for your beds making them even more low maintenance and easy to maintain. So turn on the water, grab a cold drink and RELAX!
What is your favorite way to reduce your watering chores? Comment below – we’d love to hear from you!