Soaker Hose vs. Sprinkler: Which is Better for a Garden?

One of the most critical aspects of gardening is installing the correct irrigation and watering system. There are several options to choose from, including sprinkler systems and soaker hoses. But which is better?

When it comes to small gardens, soaker hoses are the best option. They provide water directly to the soil around the plants and their roots—a more efficient and effective system for healthier plants. Sprinklers can be a good option for lawn watering as they cover a wider area, and the grass is typically short.

As with any system, there are pros and cons and things you should consider before investing in either a sprinkler or a soaker hose. Read on to find out which system will work the best for you and your garden and/or yard.

Are Soaker Hoses Better than Sprinklers?

Sprinkler systems are suitable for watering your yard, but soaker hoses are better and a more efficient way of watering your garden, particularly if it is small. However, there are some things to keep in mind before setting up either irrigation method.

Pros and Cons of Soaker Hoses

So, what exactly are soaker hoses, and how do they operate? Soaker hoses are a type of drip irrigation that works best in smaller areas such as backyard gardens, shrubs, and flower bushes.

soaker hose
soaker hose

They look much like a regular hose, except thousands of tiny holes run along its length. You can then adjust it, cut, and move it around your garden to exactly where it’s most beneficial to the plant. This method ensures that plants are watered slowly but steadily with drips instead of a forceful spray on top of the plants that then drip down.

Some pros to soaker hoses are:

  • They are simple to install—you need access to a faucet.
  • They are not as expensive as standard drip irrigation (which costs more money upfront) or a sprinkler system (which uses more water).
  • They save money as you can control the amount of water you use with it. In fact, you can reduce the amount of water you use by up to 80%.
  • They are better for your plants as they feed the water directly to where it is needed—at the roots.
  • You do not have to worry about the water pressure being too high and destroying any of your fruits or vegetables.
  • Soaker hoses do not water the tops of the plants, which can lead to mold, fungus, insect infestations, and even (weirdly enough) scorching on the leaves.
  • Unlike standard drip irrigation systems, you do not always need to add a pressure regulator onto the faucet, as there is not as big a need to be precise with individual plants.

Some negatives to soaker hoses are:

  • They need to be replaced yearly.
  • The sun dries them out, rendering them unusable.
  • They can kill your grass because they lay on top of the lawn, not under the soil.
  • They do not work as well on yards with slopes and are not efficient for large garden plots.
  • They are more likely to develop kinks than sprinkler systems and standard drip irrigation systems, causing clogging and water backup.
  • You cannot adjust the soaker hose to different watering needs depending on the plant. It delivers the same amount of water and the same amount of pressure across the board. This means that if you have two different plants with different needs to remain healthy, one may not survive.
  • Many soaker hoses contain chemicals that can affect the plants and lead to health issues such as breast cancer or infertility. Therefore, it is essential to carefully choose the kind of hose you buy and where you buy it from.

Pros and Cons of Sprinklers


In sprinkler systems, trenches are dug in the yard, and piping is laid and connected to water sources. After that, the sprinkler head is attached, and water is sprayed on the surrounding area from above rather than at the root. There are two main types of sprinkler heads (though many different offshoots and even combinations of the two have developed). They are:

  1. Rotor sprinkler
  2. Spray sprinkler

The rotor sprinkler works by spinning and spraying as it spins. The spray sprinkler stays in place and shoots the same amount from every side of the sprinkler over the yard/garden.

Some pros of sprinkler systems are:

  • It covers a wider area.
  • It is more efficiently distributes water on hilly yards and gardens.
  • You don’t have to worry about water buildup on top of plants that would otherwise lead to fungus or mold growth that could harm them.
  • You can set timers to shut the water off automatically.

Some cons of sprinklers are:

  • You can’t run them at night because the lack of sunshine can cause mold to grow faster on plants.
  • It is more time-intensive and costs more to install due to looking out for tree roots while digging trenches for the piping and making sure no water lines are broken.
  • DIY is not a great way to install sprinklers. It is better to get a professional to install them—meaning the process is more expensive.

Soaker Hoses vs. Standard Drip Irrigation Systems

Both soaker hoses and standard drip irrigation are great ways to save time, water, and money (more so than traditional sprinklers) and keep your yard and garden healthy and lovely. Some things to consider when making your choice between these two options are:

  • How much do you want to invest in your yard or garden? There is no right or wrong answer. Some people have more money and time to invest in maintaining their yard and can afford to try different things and experiment until they find the right kind of lawn care for them.
  • How big is your yard? For example, if you live in a rural area and have lots of land, a soaker hose is less efficient (not to mention bulkier) than a standard drip irrigation system. Standard drip irrigation costs more upfront but does not need to be replaced as often as a soaker hose and can save you more over the long run.
  • What kind of land are you working with—are there many hills and slopes, or is it flat? A standard drip irrigation system works better; for the latter, a soaker hose is fantastic.
  • Are you growing crops? If you are looking for something to help produce a high crop yield (such as farming), then go for standard drip irrigation. It is better for those larger plants that need bigger water droplets or a wide variety of plants that need their own water pressure levels.

If you have a small suburban yard and a little garden or want to keep up those pretty rosebushes, then a soaker hose is a great option, not to mention more straightforward to install and use.


The most important part about choosing an irrigation system is knowing what you are working with and identifying your goals. Gardening and yard upkeep can be an overwhelming task, but it becomes much more straightforward once you have narrowed down your specific needs. The more you know, the more you can enjoy the process.

Take note of your yard, observe the terrain, and take note of the plants you want to see thrive. Keeping this in mind, you can effectively choose the best garden care system for you and enjoy your yard for many years to come.

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Soaker Hose vs. Sprinkler: Which is Better for a Garden?