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Soaker hose vs. garden hose: Which one should you use?

Two popular ways to water your lawn and garden go head to head

An illustration of a garden hose Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / mightyisland / designer29

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Watering your garden is vital for keeping it healthy and in full bloom. But not all hoses are made the same. As with all things home and garden, it’s better to use the right tool for the job. If you’re wondering whether you should use a garden hose or a soaker hose to water your garden and landscape, keep reading.

What’s the difference between a garden hose and a soaker hose?

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A garden hose is a durable lawn care tool to help your grass stay green.

A garden hose is made from rubber or vinyl and comes in various lengths. Hook one end up to your outdoor faucet, turn it on and you’re ready to water your lawn or garden. If you want to regulate the flow of water on the other end, attach a nozzle with various settings like anything from mist to shower to jet spray.

A garden hose is ideal for hand-watering gardens and small lawns, but it’s also good for other projects and tasks that need a water source like washing your car or cleaning off patio furniture and other hard surfaces.

A soaker hose laid out in a garden bed
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A soaker hose gets the job done by penetrating the ground and saturating the roots of a plant without overwatering.


A soaker hose also attaches to an outdoor faucet, but rather than having to hold it, you instead coil it around the bases of plants and flowers. Turn the faucet on and the water seeps out of the hose through the tiny perforations all throughout the tubing. This slow release of water allows for the ground to be saturated, which is key for achieving the saturation that plants, vegetables, and flowers love.

“This makes for really happy garden plants, as most plants do not like getting their foliage wet,” says Allison Vallin Kostovick, gardener and founder at Finch + Folly Farm. Some soaker hoses are designed to be buried a few inches in the ground to allow for even deeper saturation. Be sure to choose one that states it specifically that it can be buried, otherwise, the wet soil will clog up the perforations.

When it comes to soaker hoses vs. garden hoses, there are pros and cons to consider

An infographic with the pros of using a soaker and garden hose
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Depending on your needs, a soaker hose or a garden hose could be the right choice.

If you’ve got new plantings, go with a soaker hose, says Joe Raboine, the director of residential hardscapes at Belgard, a manufacturer of pavers and other outdoor products.

“Soaker hoses are a great way to really saturate the soil with minimal runoff and evaporation,” says Raboine. “This method will typically use less water overall and is healthier for the plants, and it doesn’t need to be used that often.”

A garden hose can certainly do the trick, but Raboine notes that the water tends to run off quickly and doesn’t soak very far into the soil. The result? You’ll need to use more water, which won’t bode well for your water bill.

An infographic with the cons  of using a soaker and garden hose
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There are some downsides to consider when it comes to soaker hoses vs. garden hoses.


None of this is meant to throw shade on the regular ol’ garden hose, of course. Besides, you’ll actually keep your garden hose around longer if it is stored in the shade; Kostovick says the hose could develop cracks overtime if left in direct sun exposure. But she does love hand-watering with a garden hose whenever possible because it allows her to be more aware of what’s happening in her garden.

“Hand-watering your plants using a hose as it allows you time to not only connect with all you are growing, but to inspect as well for any pests or onset of disease,” says Kostovick.

The soaker hose, on the other hand, is more of a set-it-and-forget-it tool. While it’s not the same as a sprinkler or drip irrigation system, you can attach a timer to a soaker hose so that you won’t forget to turn it on or off when it’s time to water.

Even if you’re like Kostovick and find that watering your yard is your moment of zen, know that you could be standing there for quite some time, especially if you’ve got a larger yard or there’s been a stretch of dry weather.

So, which hose is right for you?

A person watering the garden
Credit: Reviewed / Amazon

When it comes to a soaker hose vs. a garden hose, each one has different applications in the yard.

If you have a small yard or garden, a garden hose with a nozzle attachment will suffice. However, it will require you to hand water your garden, which can be a time-consuming task. A soaker hose delivers water directly into the ground, which is ideal for plant and flower hydration. The best part is that you don’t have to stand there with a nozzle.

If you do opt for a soaker hose, keep in mind it’s not a bad thing to also have a garden hose on hand for other tasks that require water—just be sure to coil it up and store in the shade so that it doesn’t crack in the harsh sunlight.

“Each type of hose has its purpose and advantages,” Raboine says. While a garden hose is useful to have on hand anyway for other tasks that require a water hookup, you might find that a soaker hose is better to stretch along your flower beds or around newly planted trees.

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