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Soaker hoses, where and how much time left on?

Posted by marti8a DFW (My Page) on
Sat, Sep 14, 13 at 1:09

I switched to soaker hoses around the foundation several years ago after the foundation company told us they were better than sprinkler system.

At the time, I read on the soaker hose label to leave them on 4 hours on low but I never could find out how long to leave them on. Later I read something about an inch a week, so put them on a rotation where each stayed on about 6 hours on low, once a week.

I found this information from another foundation company. In it they say to hook hoses up to timers and set them for 15 minutes twice a day, or up to 4 times a day during the heat of summer. They also say to bury the hose a couple of inches.

So while I can see the value of maintaining an even degree of moisture around the foundation for it, I do have some questions on soaker hoses.

1) If you set the hose for only 15 minutes (I assume on low), is that enough for the roots of any plants, especially shrubs? I always heard to water deeply and less often to encourage deep roots.

2) Why bury the hoses? I have had ants eat through soaker hoses before. If they are buried, how would you know unless you had one really green area and past that is dead?

3) How many soaker hoses can you hook together and maintain an even pressure? I've tried two 75' hoses and it didn't work well, but maybe I was doing something wrong. I only have 2 faucets near my house and 6 hoses. It would be hard to hook all those up to timers, I think.

4) How often do you run your hoses, and how long at a time?

5) Do you run them longer on the west side of the house, or where there are shrubs that are going to take in a lot of of the water? Otherwise, the moisture won't be even around the foundation, would it?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Soaker hoses, where and how much time left on?

We added a slab/foundation planting circuit to our sprinkler system years ago using 1/2 inch laser drilled soaker hose. No expert, so here's some amateur feedback on your questions:

1) “15 minutes x 2 to 4 per day” sounds like some pro’s general rule of thumb for maintaining somewhat consistent foundation moisture during the hot months. Doubt much consideration was given to what’s best for the foundation plants. Agree that the brief 15 minute cycles would probably not be best for most, though some would get along fine with it. The recommended soak time and frequencies can only be guesstimates at best without knowing the flow rate of the hose, water pressure, and other factors.

2) Buried hoses are "hot". They are the future in several parts of the country where they are now required for new lawn irrigation installations in place of the common sprinkler heads. There is likely some small advantage for a foundation soaker in terms of evaporation loss, but just hiding it under mulch helps with evaporation, protects from UV, and makes it a LOT easier to maintain. If you do bury it, it’s imperative that you have some sort of backflow prevention device installed at any potable water source; while often not required for surface hoses, one really should be used for any drip/soaker lines that are left in place, whether on the surface or buried.

3) If the instructions on the hose didn't specifically mention connecting additional soakers together, then it's probably safe to assume poor results connecting two or more "end-to-end". Running a large diameter hose to a “T” or “Y” fitting between your two 75 ft soaker hoses should give better results. A variety of pressure regulators are available to help manage the pressures at the source and/or each segment of hose. There are several threads about this over on the GW irrigation forum.

4) Our previously installed sprinklers already reach most of the foundation [plants] when we deep water the lawn, so we add 33 minutes from the drip line only as needed - usually during the hottest stretches of July through September at a maximum of twice per week. Future intentions are to reduce the flow on these lines so that we can go with a slower multi-hour drip. The lawn deep watering that reaches the foundation is also done as-needed, which usually means as much as twice per week when temps are in triple digits and maximum once per week at other times. These run for 36 minutes based on our sprinkler heads and tap pressure. So, slab gets up to 138 minutes of combined irrigation per week (per side/circuit) depending on the heat and rain conditions.

5) You’re touching on a few of the factors that make it tough to get “perfect” results by design alone. On our lot, slope is as big (bigger?) an influence as Sun exposure. Seems more effective to keep checking soil moisture a foot or so down on the different sides of the foundation and adjusting the sprinkler/soaker frequencies and durations until you get fairly consistent results throughout the week.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soaker hose: do I need a pressure regulator-Irrigation Forum

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