Sunday, October 19, 2014

Replacing Clogged Soaker Hoses

Just when I thought I was ready to plant the seeds for our winter vegetables, garden karma said, "Not so fast." The debris was removed, the soil was amended,
and carefully leveled, tenderly smoothed. It was ready for seeds.
The final task before planting seeds was to test the automatic soaker hose system.


Our hard water clogs the tiny pores of the soaker hose, so after 5 minutes there were only a few drops leaking slowly out of the hose. At this rate, the stations would have to run 12 hours to soak a few inches of soil. There are places where the water seeps through and areas where it is dry.
This has been an ongoing saga in my garden. Our water is hard. When it dries, the water leaves hard deposits on everything from dishes in the dishwasher to car windows, and it ruins my soaker hoses. Because this keeps happening, I keep replacing the hoses. Every season I buy new ones and so today I decided to try something else. 

In one bed, I replaced the porous 1/2 inch soaker hose with 1/4 inch drilled tubing. This tubing has holes drilled every 6 inches along one side of the tubing.
The drilled holes are larger so hopefully they will not clog as quickly as those tiny pores of the other hoses. The problem with this type of hose is that the water comes out with some force, a tiny stream.
Because of this, it's important to have the holes pointing down so the water does not spray up into the air and onto the pathways and pavement. This was tricky because the tubing comes coiled and it wants to stay coiled.
The stakes were helpful to keep the tube straight and the holes pointing down.
In order to attach this 1/4 inch tubing to my garden hose, I used a swivel adapter (the white piece) and a 4 port manifold.
The 4 port manifold comes with small black caps that you twist off to attach the 1/4 inch tubing.
This will allow me to run 4 lines off of the one garden hose. According to the packaging, each line should be no longer than 15 ft in order to have enough pressure to function correctly, so I needed 4 lines to cover my bed.
At the end of each line is an end plug which creates the pressure needed to force the water out of the holes in the tubing.
Be sure when attaching the tubing to the manifold that the arrows printed on the tubing point in the direction that the water flows. 
It will be interesting to see how this new drilled tubing works in the garden beds. After running the water for a few minutes, it is clear that this tubing put out a lot more water than the previous porous soaker hoses. The soil under the surface is more evenly moist, but the surface is not moist between the holes.
It seems that I will need to hand water the seeds to keep them moist until they germinate and establish their root systems. For those seeds that should be sowed every 6 inches, I planted them in the moist zones. 

Like any garden project, this is an experiment. I can foresee problems with this system including the tiny streams of water creating holes in the soil or disturbing tender seedlings, or shooting into the air wasting precious water. Time will tell.

I'm curious if any of you have this problem with soaker hoses becoming clogged, and what solutions you have for this issue. 


  1. I wonder if vinegar would dissolve the hard water deposits inside of the soaker hose?

    1. Michelle, I think it probably would work. Thanks for the suggestion. The problem is the soaker hoses will just become clogged again, so I think I'll be giving up on them and switching to pierced hoses instead. We'll see if they clog up too. Have a great day!

  2. Hard water here too. I just keep my clogged soaker hoses and use a good ole stick pin to turn them into the equivalent of your drilled hose.