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How To Set Up A Soaker Hose System For The Garden

by - Wednesday, June 02, 2021

It's Week 5 of the One Room Challenge and things are progressing nicely with our garden project. Despite the unfortunate events that happened last week, we're moving on.

If you're new to Rambling Renovators, welcome! My name is Jennifer. I help people create functional and beautiful homes, I help brands create digital content strategies, and I've been writing this blog since 2007. I live with my husband and daughter in Toronto, Canada in a centre-plan, mid century colonial style house that we've infused with the fresh traditional style we love. We DIY all our renovations and have a fondness for architectural details, built-ins, and classic decor.

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Watering System For The Garden


Our challenge this week was to figure out how to set up a watering system for the garden. With the plants in the front garden and back cutting garden finally in the ground, our priority now is to keep these plants alive. So far we've been watering them manually twice daily with our garden hose in hopes that the plants will establish roots quickly and start to flourish.

But daily watering by hand isn't practical. We have a cottage that we've been itching to visit so that means devising an automatic watering system for the gardens that will run while we're away.


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Drip Hose vs Soaker Hose


Being garden newbies, I had to do a bit of research to determine what kind of irrigation system was right for our garden. Our previous home had in-ground sprinklers and that was glorious but we weren't looking to make that kind of substantial investment here. 

Our options were a drip irrigation system or a soaker hose system. What's the difference between a soaker hose and drip hose?
  • Drip irrigation uses flexible plastic tubing with holes or "emitters" that allows water to drip into the soil. You can combine several emitters for larger plants, allowing you to control both location and flow rate of your water
  • Soaker hoses are porous garden hoses. Water seeps through the walls of a soaker hose and waters the entire length of the hose. Soaker hoses are less expensive to set up but are also less precise.
For our needs, a soaker hose system would be the best option. We wanted a system that was affordable, could span a wide area, and would be easy to operate.

Are soaker hoses good for gardens? 

Absolutely. There are many benefits to using soaker hoses over watering by hand. Soaker hoses deliver water at ground level. This wets the soil slowly, evenly, and regularly. You don't lose moisture due to evaporation and the foliage of the plants remains dry. Soaker hose systems are inexpensive to set up but do keep an eye on your water bill and ensure you are not watering excessively.

How To Set Up a Soaker Hose System


Setting up a DIY soaker hose system is not a difficult task. It requires a bit of preplanning, accurate measuring, and installation. Here's the steps we followed to set up our garden soaker hose system.

1. Determine the areas to be serviced 

Our soaker hose system would need to cover three areas: the backyard cutting garden, the side yard Viburnum shrubs, and the front garden. Since the Viburnums are beside the front garden, we could consider those two areas as one zone.

For ease, let's refer to these areas as Zone 1 (front garden and Viburnum shrubs) and Zone 2 (backyard cutting garden).

2. Measure the area to be watered

Since our outdoor faucet sits at the back of our house, we had a lot of ground to cover. Here's how we measured and set up hoses for each zone.

Zone 1:
  • The hose path would run along the back of our house, through the side fence, past the Viburnum shrubs, and into the front garden
  • Soaker hose only needed to be use near the plants. Therefore, we could use a regular, less expensive garden hose to get from the faucet and through the fence. 
  • We would do a loop of hose around the base of each Viburnum shrub
  • In the front garden, we would do a zigzag shape. Soaker hose would run past the base of each plant. We would do a loop around the bigger plants (Juniper tree, azalea, Euonymus tree). It would be laid through the triangular shaped front garden and then along the side of the walkway, terminating at the driveway
Zone 2:
  • Similar to Zone 1, we would also use a regular garden hose to bring water from the faucet to the edge of the cutting garden, and then switch to a soaker hose
  • Soaker hose would be laid in three horizontal lines through the garden. 
Sean and I took a measuring tape and calculated ever straight run, turn, and zig zag along the hose path and added that up to get the total. We determined we would need at least:
  • Zone 1: 40 feet of garden hose + 124 feet of soaker hose
  • Zone 2: 25 feet of garden hose + 50 feet of soaker hose
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3. Order your supplies

In addition to the garden hose and soaker hose, we wanted to have our watering system on a timer. The timer would need to be able to accommodate two zones. These are the items we ordered:

4. Set up your timer and hose

Setting up the hose was pretty straightforward. The timer connected to the faucet and was easy to program. Regular garden hoses and soaker hoses have the same diameter and fittings are can easily be connected. Here's a few tips for laying soaker hose:
  • Unroll your new soaker hose and let it lie in the sun for an hour. This will get out any kinks and help the hose lay flat.
  • Start laying at the end point to ensure you don't run out of hose
  • For new plants, lay the hose as close to the plant stem as possible. For established plants, you can lay the hose about two inches away as they have longer roots 
  • Make loops around plants that need extra water
  • Open the faucet partially and see if enough water and pressure is generated to get the water to the end of the hose. You don't want to have too much water pressure causing the water to spray from the hose. Conversely, you don't want to have too little pressure and fail to have the water reach the end. Adjust the faucet as needed.
  • Set hoses in place using garden staples/pins
  • Cover hoses with mulch to reduce loss of moisture due to evaporation and prevent sun damage
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5. Test your timer and adjust placement

After setting up the hose in the two zones, we ran the system. We decided on 15 minutes daily in Zone 1 and 10 minutes daily in Zone 2. We'll watch the plants for a few days and see if more or less water is needed.

With your initial test, it's also a good idea to check the water pattern on your soil and see if water reaches each plant. If some of your plants are in a dry zone, move the placement of your soaker hose accordingly and set the hose in place with garden staples.

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It feels like a big accomplishment to have this part of the garden makeover complete. At least now we won't have to worry about watering our plants while we're away.

But there is one thing we have had to worry about... take a look at our newly planted Viburnum.

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Within a day of planting, our Viburnum shrubs were looking like this! Sadly, it looks like our Viburnum plants were playing host to the Viburnum leaf beetle which just hatched and have eaten the leaves. I've sprayed the shrubs with an insecticide and hopefully I've caught the problem in time.

With the garden, there is always something to do!

Head over to the One Room Challenge blog and see how other guest participants are doing with their projects.


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