Choosing a good irrigation system for your garden is important.

Choosing between two popular garden water systems.

Soaker Hose vs Sprinkler System

But how can you decide whether you should choose to use a soaker hose or a sprinkler system? This article will provide you with a complete list of pros and cons for both methods.

Here are the differences between soaker hoses and sprinkler systems.

Soaker Hoses Sprinkler Systems
  • Directly reach plant roots
  • Use 80% less water
  • Promote plant health
  • Ideal for watering shrubs and perennials
  • Good for watering freshly laid grass seed
  • Use more water
  • Ideal for narrow or irregularly shaped lawns

There are a couple of factors that affect whether you should go for a soaker hose or a sprinkler system. Here are just a few of them:

  • The size and shape of your yard
  • The type of plants in your yard
  • The sensitivity of your plants

Are you ready to see how the above-mentioned factors could affect your choice? Then make sure you check out the extended soaker hose vs sprinkler system guide below.

Soaker Hoses vs Sprinkler Systems

Choosing between a soaker hose and a sprinkler system is a tricky decision. 

First off the bat, you may be leaning towards the sprinkler system. Why? A sprinkler system is great for watering the yard. It also doubles up as an entertainment system for the kids in the summer as they can run back and forth through the spray. (That’ll take them off the sofa into the fresh air and save you money on waterpark admissions.) It’s win-win! 

But soaker hoses are also a great option for watering shrubs, trees, and plants. They blast straight down to the roots and get flowers watered in a jiffy. 

So, soaker hose or sprinkler system? Which should you go for? Take a look at the information listed below. The information will cover some of the main differences between the two systems. This will help you to work out which will be the best solution for your irrigation needs

Soaking the Roots and Soil

Soaker hose vs sprinkler system. Which is best for soaking the roots and soil? Take a look at the table below to find out. 

Soaker Hose Sprinkler System
  • Delivers water directly to the roots. 
  • Water penetrates about a foot into the soil.
  • Encourages the growth of deep roots that are more resistant against drought.
  • Ideal for watering big shrubs, perennials, and trees.
  • A lot of water is carried off by the wind and evaporated.
  • Wets the foliage more than the roots.
  • Water penetrates about an inch into the soil.
  • Tends to grow shallow roots.

Do you have large shrubs to water that need a lot of hydration around the roots? Then your best option would be to go for a soaker hose

Soaker hoses are more powerful than sprinkler systems. They help to deliver water directly to the roots of your shrubs. This encourages and accelerates shrub and tree growth. A shrub with deep healthy roots is a healthy shrub. A shrub with deep roots is one that will better withstand the hot summer sun. Without deep roots, a shrub will start to wither at the first sign of a heatwave. 

Watering the Lawn

A water hose giving the garden a dip.

More water please!

Soaker hose vs sprinkler system. Which is the best for watering lawns and unevenly cut gardens? Take a look at the table below to find out. 

Soaker Hose Sprinkler System
  • Not effective at watering the lawn.
  • Spray range about 14 feet.
  • Ideal for watering narrow lawn areas.
  • Best at watering curved or irregular garden lawn shapes.
  • Spray range up to 30 feet or more.
  • Good at watering small, delicate seeds such as grass seeds.

Do you need to water a wide-open lawn? Then your best solution will be a sprinkler system. 

Sprinkler systems have a wider range than soaker hoses. This makes them effective at watering large areas such as open garden lawns. The large water range helps the sprinkler to get the job done faster than a soaker hose.

A soaker hose, however, will be completely inefficient at watering the lawn. It would quickly create puddles and waste a lot of time.

Sprinkler systems are less powerful than soaker hoses. This makes them ideal for working with delicate freshly planted seeds. Sprinkler systems are perfect for working with intricately cut gardens and lawns. This is because of their great flexibility and awesome range.


Soaker hose vs sprinkler system. Which is the best for weaving its way around shrubs and plants? Take a look at the table below to find out. 

Soaker Hose Sprinkler System
  • Ideal for watering groups of plants. 
  • Good shape for weaving between plants.
  • Not effective when watering groups of plants.
  • Has a flat shape with holes on one side that must be facing up to spray.
  • Difficult to keep flat on uneven ground.

Do you need the flexibility to navigate around corners and irregular shapes? Then your best option is a soaker hose. 

Sprinkler systems have a rigid flat shape with spray holes lined up on one side. These have to be kept flat on the ground for them to spray properly. This makes sprinkler systems difficult to use when entwining between plants. 

Sprinkler systems are made for evenly distributing water. So, if you have a bunch of plants lined up in one area, some will receive a good soaking while others remain dry. 

Unlike the sprinkler system, soaker hoses are great at looping around hard to reach areas. They have the flexibility to weave between plants. They give a powerful soaking, ensuring that every plant is well hydrated. And we all know that a hydrated plant is a happy plant.

Plant Health

Soaker hose vs sprinkler system. Which is better for your plant’s health? Take a look at the table below to find out. 

Soaker Hose Sprinkler System
  • Delivers water directly to the plant’s roots.
  • Tends to wet the foliage making some plants more susceptible to disease.

Are your plants sensitive to high humidity levels? Then you will be better off using a soaker hose. 

Sprinkler systems have the tendency to water the foliage of your plant rather than hydrating their roots. If your plants are sensitive, this could cause them to develop the following:

  • Fungal disease
  • Mildew
  • Mold
  • Insect infestations

Soaker hoses work differently as they directly soak the roots of plants. This reduces the likelihood of plants developing fungal diseases. This also makes it easier for the plants to gather water and grow deeper roots.

Water Use

Soaker hose vs sprinkler system. Which uses more water? Take a look at the table below to find out.

Soaker Hose Sprinkler System
  • Delivers water directly to the plant’s roots.
  • Little water is evaporated or carried off by the wind.
  • Shoots water into the air. Some water is evaporated by the sun and carried by the wind.
  • Water is directed to the plant’s foliage rather than its roots. 

Are you looking for a yard irrigation system that will help you save money on the water bills? Then you should opt for a soaker hose

This is what a soaker hose looks like up close.

A soaker hose up close.

Soaker hoses shoot water directly at the roots of plants, meaning that little water is wasted. These hoses direct the water to the places the plants need it the most. They make great use of water and cut down on waste. 

Sprinkler systems shoot water into the air before it hits the ground. This means that some water is carried off to places it isn’t needed. It also often lands on foliage and is evaporated by the sun. This causes sprinkler systems to waste more water than soaker hoses. 

Soaker hoses can save up to 80% more water in comparison with sprinkler systems. This also makes them a better option in the months that often bring drought. 


Choosing between a soaker hose and sprinkler system can be a tricky decision. Both have their pros and cons and they are useful for different types of gardens and shrubbery. I hope that this article has shown you what both soaker hoses and sprinkler systems can be useful for. I’m sure it has helped you to decide which system will be best for your yard. 

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Have a great day!