If you don’t have time to consistently water your garden, or the money to install an irrigation system, consider using a soaker hose. Through tiny holes along its length, a soaker hose constantly feeds water into your soil, penetrating to the roots of your plants, where they need water most. "Soaker hoses work great for plants that don't like wet leaves, like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant," points out Barbara Gillette, a Master Gardener and a member of The Spruce Gardening and Plant Care Review Board. "They also can save you a lot of time watering foundation plantings of shrubs and ornamental trees."
We researched the top soaker hoses available, evaluating them for ease of setup, hose durability, and overall effectiveness.
H2O Works Garden Flat Soaker Hose
Fast water rate
Strong yet lightweight
More permeable than most
Kinks on reel
When the water condensed on the outside of the H2O Works Garden Flat Soaker Hose during testing, we felt like we were watching a cool science experiment. But we rate this product our Best Overall for a more intrinsic reason: we noted the water began to condensate quickly, the hose itself is extremely lightweight and easy to maneuver, and after we dragged the hose through rocks and a rake, it held up in perfect condition. The manufacturer claims that its PVC material distributes water that permeates soil more evenly than hoses made of recycled rubber. Plus, its strength doesn’t translate into added weight, as the 50-foot-long product came in at less than 4 pounds.
Its bright blue color might seem off-putting, but we like that you’d be able to easily locate and move this soaker hose in the dark. You can also cover it with mulch or soil, and it should still work just as well. The manufacturer claims you can use this product in wide temperature extremes, from -4 degrees F to 140 degrees F. This hose worked well during testing on a typically hot, humid afternoon, similar to when you'd most likely use this product.
While we didn't notice kinking when the water was flowing, we did see it when we hung the hose on a standard hook; apparently, that is not the best way to store a flat soaker hose, since we also noted kinking on similar products we stored this way.
Price at time of publish: $25
Length: 50 feet | Diameter: .5 inch | Material: PVC | Weight: 3.92 pounds
Gilmour Flat Weeper Soaker Hose
Prone to kinking
With the Gilmour Weeper Soaker Hose, you don’t have to worry about fiddling around with connectors or fittings: Simply hook up the hose and get your garden watered. It’s a budget-friendly option that conserves water at an impressive rate compared with your average sprinkler system. We also like that it is made with a sturdy vinyl material. Vinyl is less brittle than rubber, so you shouldn’t have to replace this soaker hose often.
The moderate 50-foot length is long enough to snake through even the most complex of gardens. Its desirable black appearance means you can hide it under mulch and not have to drag it in and out of storage. Soaker hoses are all about efficiency, and we believe this one meets that standard across the board, for a lower price than most.
Price at time of publish: $13
Length: 50 feet | Diameter: .625 inch | Material: Vinyl | Weight: 1.33 pounds
Best for Beginners
One Stop Gardens Flat Seeper Soaker Hose
Restricts water flow
Blends in with soil
Flat hoses tend to kink
A great option for beginners, the One Stop Gardens Flat Seeper Soaker attaches to most standard hose spigots for an easy setup. Simply place it where you want it and turn on the water supply; the hose does the rest. The black material blends nicely into soils, so you can feel comfortable leaving the hose in your favorite spot all season long. It comes with three miser discs you can use to restrict flow up to 75 percent. Also, this soaker hose is sturdy, with heavy-duty woven nylon material for ultimate durability.
Though this flat type of hose may kink when you try to follow the corner of a flower bed, at this low price you can consider buying multiple hoses to accommodate yards with unique orientations.
Price at time of publish: $19
Length: 50 feet | Diameter: .75 inch | Material: Nylon | Weight: 1.5 pounds
Best Sprinkler Combo
Swan Products Element Sprinkler & Soaker Garden Hose
Two hoses in one
Good for narrow-space lawns
Well-distributed water release
High drip rate
Can’t decide between a sprinkler or a soaker hose? The Element Sprinkler+ Standard Duty Sprinkler and Soaker Hose Combination blends the best of both. When placed with the holes facing up, this hose sprays a wall of mist that waters grass in narrow spaces or even large lawns. Facing down, it becomes a traditional soaker hose, boasting six holes per foot for well-distributed water release.
This combo soaker/sprinkler snaps open and closed for convenient and compact storage and avoids needing to struggle with an unraveling hose every time you try to roll it. We recommend placing this hose at the edge of your lawn; this way, you can flip the holes down into the soil for 30 minutes of soaking, then flip them back into the grass for sprinkling and camouflaged storage.
One downside to this combo product is that the drip rate is higher than most soaker hoses, even when faced down. Be mindful of your timing so you don’t overdo it on the roots. Also, the bright green coloring may be off-putting to some.
Price at time of publish: $29
Length: 50 feet | Diameter: .625 inch | Material: vinyl | Weight: 2.44 pounds
Best for Large Gardens
Swan Products MGSPAK38100CC Miracle-GRO Soaker System
100 feet in length
Adjustable flow rate
Can add on more hoses
Can leak under too-high pressure
The sleek, black rubber of the Miracle-GRO Soaker System provides 100 feet of hose length for even the largest of gardens. This versatile soaker hose, composed of 65 percent recycled materials, makes this a low-visibility addition. The adjustable flow rate means you can get the drip and speed exactly how you want it. Use the T connectors to add more length to your soaker hose and provide optimal ground coverage for even water distribution. We appreciate that this hardware is included, as well as additional male and female connectors, caps, and plugs. That makes it easier than most similar products to cut and reconnect this soaker hose into the shape of your choosing to get water into those hard-to-reach corners.
The manufacturer claims that this hose delivers from .5 gallon to 1 gallon of water per foot, supposedly reducing water usage by 70 percent versus a standard hose. This low-effort watering solution keeps your plants healthy and lush for an affordable price.
Price at time of publish: $50
Length: 100 feet | Diameter: .375 inch | Material: Rubber | Weight: 2 pounds
Melnor Woven Black Soaker Hose
Slow leak minimizes run-off
We recommend the Melnor Woven Black Soaker Hose if you want a simple, flat option. Because of its appealing woven fabric, it’s one of the heaviest soaker hoses on the market. But it still bends and flattens to store easier than a standard garden hose, so you shouldn’t worry about it taking up too much space.
We like this 75-foot soaker hose for more commercial-style gardens such as long hedges or tree rows, since it kinks if you try to bend it around a corner. At this reasonable price point, you can buy a hose to run the length of each row. You don’t have to worry about drowning the area, as this soaker hose has a slow leak and minimizes excess run-off.
Price at time of publish: $16
Length: 75 feet | Diameter: .75 inch | Material: Woven | Weight: 28 pounds
Flexon WS100KITCN 20-Piece Soaker Hose Kit
Long initial length
Includes connector hardware
Can leak under too-high pressure
If you specifically want a round soaker hose, we suggest you use the Flexon 20-Piece Soaker Hose Kit. It has a desirable smooth, black design; rounded edges, for easy bending around flower beds and plants; and 100 feet of customizable watering capability. You can cut the tubing to fit your needs and use the 20-piece connector set to adapt the size and shape to your garden.
We like that this soaker hose comes with detailed usage instructions, as well as a soaker hose watering rate chart. Even the most novice users should be able to adjust the flow rate to optimize watering efficiency and make sure plant roots get just what they need to thrive. Cover this soaker hose with mulch, and don’t worry about clogging the water pores; it’s designed to withstand soil coverage.
Price at time of publish: $40
Length: 100 feet | Diameter: .5 inch and .25 inch | Material: Rubber | Weight: 5 pounds
Best Heavy Duty
LINEX Garden Soaker Hose
All-weather PVC material
Rust-resistant brass couplings
Fast distribution rate
May be too small for many gardens
The LINEX Garden Soaker Hose is our favorite heavy-duty option. The durable material offers tensile strength while still being flexible. It is lightweight for easy lifting. Best for small gardens, its 25-foot length allows for easy storage. You can add a connector or two to the rust-resistant brass couplings to create a longer hose. Either way, you shouldn’t need to expose your delicate foliage to harsh high-pressure watering when you use this soaker hose.
The manufacturer says the product’s PVC material makes for more even water distribution on both ends of the hose and is superior in that respect to the recycled rubber used in many products. We believe this also allows the hose to be used in a greater range of temperatures (product recommendation is -4 degrees F to 140 degrees F). The manufacturer also claims this hose has a faster water release rate than similar products: 1 gallon per minute at regular 60 PSI. We caution that under too-high pressure, this could result in overwatering, and higher water bills.
Price at time of publish: $37
Length: 25 feet | Diameter: .5 inch | Material: PVC | Weight: 1.46 pounds
Best for Rain Barrels
Element Kink Free Rubber Black Soaker Hose
Can use rain barrel water
Low flow rate
Sold in various lengths
Reports of leaky end caps
If your priority is sustainability, we recommend the Element Kink Free Rubber Black Soaker Hose. With this product, you can pull water directly from a rain barrel instead of your home’s hose system. The water sweats out of the smooth black tubing at a rate of 0.5 gallon to 1 gallon per foot per hour on ground level, according to the manufacturer, and targets the roots directly. With its small diameter and low-flow technology, you don’t need heavy water pressure coming from the water source. This allows water to seep at an even flow rate along the hose. Though we evaluated the 75-foot-long version, this product is also sold in lengths of 25, 50, and 250 feet.
This soaker hose thrives in a low-pressure system, and the manufacturer claims it uses 70 percent less water than a conventional system This means your rain barrel should be a sufficient source of hydration for your plants. The low flow rate also reduces water evaporation of the tube to further minimize waste and maximize the uptake from your plants’ roots. On the downside, we have noted some reports of flimsy end caps, which may produce leaks. However, the manufacturer offers a seven-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: $60 (two-pack)
Length: 75 feet | Diameter: .375 inch | Material: Rubber | Weight: 4.25 pounds
Best for Vegetable Gardens
Gardener's Supply Company Premium Soaker Hose
FDA approved materials
Bends around crops well
Good retailer customer service
It takes a lot of care to grow a successful vegetable garden, and the Premium Soaker Hose from Gardener’s Supply Company works great to get water directly to your plants’ thirsty roots. We like that its FDA-approved material shouldn’t leach into your soil and contaminate your plants, making it a beneficial option for edible gardens. The manufacturer also claims the polyurethane hose lacks phthalates, BPA and lead, which would make it a good option for organic vegetable gardens.
This soaker hose has a nice, soil-like brown color and doesn’t leave you with an eyesore in your garden all year round. Since it is a round hose, it can bend around your vegetable crops and snake through even the smallest of raised box gardens. You can buy this product in three sizes: 25, 50, and 100 feet, but even the smallest option is somewhat pricey compared with other products. Also, we reserve judgment on the manufacturer’s claims that the product’s industrial spring end guards minimize kinks, and that chrome-plated brass fittings eliminate leaks.
Price at time of publish: $55 to $160
Length: 25, 50 or 100 feet | Diameter: ⅝ inch | Material: Polyurethane | Weight: 2, 4 or 8 pounds
Also consider . . .
Water Right SKR-050-MU Soaker Garden Hose: While this made-in-Oregon 50-foot soaker hose was one of the lightest products we tested in our Des Moines Lab—we found it easy to drag around—and it threaded on our test spigot very easily, we were ambivalent about several things. We thought its “bristle grass” color, which adds a neutral touch to your garden, contrasted poorly with the underlying greenery. Also, we couldn't confirm the manufacturer's claim that you get a completely even drip rate from end to end (but other users have attested to this). We tested this hose during the summer, so we couldn't verify the manufacturer's claim that it holds up in harsh conditions and maintains its flexibility, even in freezing temperatures. Water Right's products have been featured in a number of media, and customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive. So it's not out of the question that the $110 you spend for this product could be a good investment.
What to Look For in a Soaker Hose
Soaker hoses come in different lengths: 25 feet, 50 feet, and 100 feet are common lengths. "When you plan to water a garden with a soaker hose, think about how you need to lay out the hose and choose a length easy to work with," advises Barbara Gillette, a Master Gardener and a member of The Spruce Gardening and Plant Care Review Board. "A longer hose works well for straight rows, but shorter hoses are easier to move if the garden layout changes." Two hundred feet should be the absolute limit, she advises. If you need more length, "it's better to use two hoses with a manifold"—a wider pipe that has connections and on/off valves for more than one hose.
If you go with a long hose in a small space, you get too much water concentrated around your plants, which can be more harmful than helpful. Measure the distance in your garden that needs soaking before you make your decision. Most shorter hoses can be joined to create longer hoses, so don’t worry too much about the future—your hose can grow with your garden. However, notes, Gillette, "a junction is an opportunity for leaks to develop and may not work as efficiently."
Soaker hoses come in many different diameters. The larger the diameter, the less friction for the water running through the hose, which means it moves faster. Larger-diameter soaker hoses get water to the end of the hose quicker, so if you’re trying to water a large garden with an extra-long hose, one with a larger diameter can save you some time each session. Smaller-diameter water hoses may be easier to camouflage in your garden, especially in narrow flower beds.
Water Flow (Single Flow or Adjustable Flow)
Equal water distribution is the key to a healthy garden, so water flow is an important component of a soaker hose. Single-flow soaker hoses are good options if you’re just looking for an easy-to-use watering system. We like adjustable soaker hoses because you can target the exact flow rate you need to ensure that the water seeps out of the hose at the most desirable rate. If the flow is too low, the water might not get to the end of the hose. Too high, and you may get a spray instead of a dribble; also, some hoses may develop leaks under high pressure.
Soaker hoses aren’t all made from the same material. We like soaker hoses certified lead-free; manufacturers claim those products meet safe drinking water standards and don’t contaminate your vegetable garden. Materials resistant to UV increase durability and prolong the life of your soaker hose. Look for a vinyl or PVC option if you want longevity, or recycled plastic if you prefer to be eco-friendly.
Choosing between a flat or round soaker hose depends on the size and shape of your garden. If you have curvy flower beds, it is best to go with a round soaker hose, as flat ones may kink when you turn them around corners. Flat soaker hoses are ideal for straight garden rows, such as large vegetable gardens.
How does a soaker hose work?
A soaker hose has thousands of tiny pores along the length of the hose, which enables water to drip out slowly. This system waters your plants’ roots without you needing to carry a watering can around your garden. Soaker hoses, which generally flow at a half-gallon to a gallon per foot per hour, also conserve more water than a traditional hose or sprinkler system.
Where can you use a soaker hose?
Since it is flexible, you can run a soaker hose through your garden and around your flower beds. "Water goes straight to the roots with no evaporation or waste," advises Gillette. Soaker hoses can be covered with a layer of mulch or moss, so they camouflage into your garden. These products shouldn’t be used for watering grass or lawns, and don’t work well on steep slopes.
How long should you leave a soaker hose on?
You should leave your soaker hose on for 30 minutes to 1 hour, at least twice a week. You can adjust the length of time based on the needs of your garden, with some trial and error. If you have mostly smaller plants, a 30-minute soak should be sufficient. "Soaker hoses set on a timer will keep your flowerbeds hydrated and looking their best," advises Gillette. You may need to set the timer longer for larger shrubs and trees.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Deanna McCormack has been testing and reviewing home items for the Spruce since 2017. To come up with this list of best soaker hoses, she spent hours researching options and selected the winners based on water flow, material, length, and durability. She is a homeowner, avid gardener, and outdoor enthusiast. For additional insight, we also spoke with Barbara Gillette, a Master Gardener and a member of The Spruce Gardening and Plant Care Review Board.