How to use a soaker hose for a tree line like arborvitae

The Best Soaker Hose for Arborvitae and Other Tree Walls

A soaker hose is a great way to water arborvitae and other trees that grow in line on level ground.  If you’re looking for the best soaker hose for arborvitae and other “tree walls”, you’ve come to the right place.

The porous walls on a soaker hose allow it to emit, or “weep” water over a large surface area of ground, making them more ideal for plants that have larger root systems.

Like trees!

Specifically trees that are planted in line to create a wind barrier or natural tree fence.

A Quick Answer:  The Best Soaker Hose for Arborvitae

I’ve done a ton of research both on Amazon pouring through customer reviews and scouring  the gardening forums.  I’ve found that the Water Right Soaker Hose is the best soaker hose for arborvitae.  It’s expensive, but as with most things, you get what you pay for.

I also noticed that the major complaint about the Water Right Soaker Hose is the same complaint about all soaker hoses:  that too much water is released from the section of the hose closest to the water source, leaving none for the tail end of the hose.   

Feel free to skip ahead to find out how to solve that problem for both the Water Right and any other brand of soaker hose.  

Under the break below, you’ll see a description of what you’ll get with the Water Right Soaker Hose along with some less expensive options.

Unlike a soaker hose used for garden plants, a soaker hose for arborvitae, especially when watering newly planted trees, needs to be durable.   

Unless you live in an area that gets consistent weekly rainfall in the winter, you’ll need to leave it out all year to make sure your trees are getting enough water.  

That means that your soaker hose is going to be exposed to the elements all year long.  

Make sure you get a 50% thicker or double walled soaker hose.   This will minimize the chances of leaking due to prolonged exposure.  They are also less prone to kinks.

Stay away from the soaker hoses that are flat, collapsable and easy to store.   Those are great for summer vegetable gardens.  Not for year-round tree watering. 

Here are my top 3 picks for the best soaker hose for arborvitae and other tree line privacy walls:

Water Right Soaker Hose Review

Water Right Soaker Hose

Overall Rating: 5/5

Pros

  • Very few complaints about durability 
  • Drinking water safe.  Good for pets
  • Made with recycled rubber

Cons

  • Most expensive of the 3 
  • More of a porous garden hose than a weeper hose.  Will spray, rather than weep, if pressure is too high. 

Dramm Premium Soaker Hose Review

Dramm Premium Soaker Hose

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Pros

  • Dramm is a trusted brand in the industry with good customer service
  • Made from recycled material

Cons

  • Customers complain about the end-caps being faulty

Rocky Mountain Goods Soaker Hose Review

Rocky Mountain Goods Soaker Hose

Overall Rating: 4/5

Pros

  • Least expensive of the 3 
  • Comes with fittings to attach additional hoses to
  • Made with recycled rubber

Cons

  • Some users complain that the hose does not last as long as expected

 

What is Arborvitae?

First things first: what is arborvitae?   

Arborvitae, otherwise known as Thuja,  is a genus in the cypress family of trees that contain 5 sub-species.    The evergreen conifers grow tall and narrow and have flattened web shaped needles that spread out to create a dense foliage. 

Hence, they tend to be used in landscaping for natural fences and wind blocks, often planted in a line on even ground.

We’ve all seen them before, but if you still can’t picture them,  I’ll help you out: 

arborvitae are conifers that grow in a line to provide privacy and wind protection

Why a Soaker Hose is Good for Arborvitae

A soaker hose is more ideal for arborvitae than drip irrigation because it weeps water through hundreds of tiny holes across the length of the hose line.   

That’s not as ideal for smaller plants because much of the water from a soaker hose goes to waste, soaking the soil between the plants where there are no roots. 

It is, however, an ideal design for tree root balls, which are large and soak up a lot of water. 

In other words, you’re not wasting as much water by soaking the soil between trees as you would be with smaller garden plants. 

Drip Irrigation vs. Soaker Hose

You may be considering whether you should use a drip irrigation system or a soaker hose for your arborvitae or other tree wall layouts on your property.

Drip irrigation and soaker hoses are very similar and will help you avoid the pitfalls of watering your plants with a standard garden hose:

Im my experience a soaker hose is favorable to a drip system for arborvitae.   I’ll explain why, but first it’s important to understand the difference between drip irrigation and soaker hoses. 

Similarities of Drip Irrigation vs. Soaker Hoses

1) Water Conservation.  Drip Irrigation & Soaker hoses both allow you to target the plants’ roots that you want watered.   When you spray a large surface area with a garden hose, however,  most of that water drains right through your soil or evaporates.

2) Discourages Weed Growth:  Most of the the water you spray with a garden hose not only misses the plants roots you wish to water, it will often find the roots of plants you don’t want in your garden.   Why create unnecessary weeding work for yourself?

3) Less Leaf Decay:  Drip irrigation and soaker hoses both emit water directly into the soil avoiding contact with the plants leaves above.   Standing water left on the plants leaves invites fungal growth which will kill your plants if left unattended. 

The Difference Between a Soaker Hose and Drip Irrigation

A soaker hose differs from a drip irrigation line, which releases water through emitters spaced out along nodes throughout the length of the tubing, ideal for plants with smaller root balls.  

Soaker hoses, on the other hand, are perforated along the entire length of the hose allowing you to “soak” your soil wherever the hose meets dirt. 

Drip Irrigation vs. Soaker Hose 

Emitters

Most drip irrigation systems allow you to place those emitters where you’d like on the hose to help you target the plant’s roots you want watered.  

You can even purchase emitters that release different amounts of water.   Maybe one plant needs 1 gallon per minute and another along the same line needs 5 gallon per minute.  You can adjust the water output on a drip line through emitter selection. 

Brackets

With a drip system, you can also purchase elbow brackets to change the direction of the line,  even install a shut off valve if you want to give some plants along the line a watering break for a given time. 

In other words, a drip system is more customizable than a soaker hose, which comes with all its tiny emitters already punched out for you.

The ability to customize a drip irrigation system is what makes it better or worse than a soaker hose depending on the job.

Customization Examples

Say you’re trying to water a vegetable garden with zucchini & tomatoes – plants that need some space between them.   A drip line is nice because you can water the areas around the base of the plants and not the space between them.

Maybe you have several raised beds in different locations in your yard and you want one inclusive irrigation system.    A few well placed brackets on a drip line allow you to make directional changes in the shape of your garden.

Simpler is Sometimes Better

Although the level of customization that a drip irrigation system offers is is often useful, it is not always necessary.

If you saw the bin that I keep all my drip irrigation equipment in, you’d understand.   There are 5 bags of different types of emitters, 2 different sized rolls of hoses, 20  different brackets and end caps strewn across the bottom of the bin…..You get the picture.  

Customization is nice, but it’s also more complicated, more time consuming, and costly.

If you can get away with setting up a watering system with one or two simple hoses that you can lay down, and forget about, you should!

The Best Soaker Hose Configuration for Arborvitae and Other Line Formation Trees

Assuming you have your soaker hose in hand, how do you set it up?  

Trees need more water than garden plants, especially the tree’s first year in the ground.   Thus we’ll need to adjust the soaker hose setup to make sure the large arborvitae root balls are soaking up the water they need.

You can do that by encircling each tree with soaker hose.   With multiple trees in line, you do that by creating back to back figure 8 formations.

Here’s a diagram of what that would look like using 2 soaker hoses:

Figure 8 formation around a tree line using 2 soaker hoses

You’ll either need to buy 2 soaker hoses for this setup or 1 large hose that you cut into 2 pieces.  Jump here for a tip on that. 

Most Common Complaint About Soaker Hoses  

I’ve read hundreds of reviews on soaker hoses and I’ve noticed the biggest complaint about them has nothing to do with the hose itself.   It’s as a result of how it it used.

The complaint is that the hose dumps the majority of the water out of the first few feet of the hose, leaving nothing for the section of the hose furthest from the water source.’

Luckily there is a solution to this.   First I’d suggest watching the video below to give you a basic understanding of how to combat this problem.   I’ll then go on to explain how it applies specifically to arborvitae.

how to set up a soaker hose so all plants get the same amount of water

So lets assume you’ve tried setting up 2 soaker hoses in a figure 8 formation and you run into the uneven watering problem that so many soaker hose users have.

Using the same logic described in the video above, we’re going to set up a system to feed water into the soaker hoses from both ends.  

Here’s a diagram of the end result.  And don’t worry!  You can (and should) cover all your hoses with mulch so none of these hoses will be visible.    This will look tidy and protect your hoses from UV damage.

the best soaker set-up for inline plants

How to setup a Soaker Hose Watering Sytem for Arborvitae: A Guide

Here I’ll go over everything you need to set up the optimal soaker system above for a tree wall.  I’ll detail the equipment needed followed by step by step instructions. 

Equipment Needed for Arborvitae Soaker Hose Setup  

Here’s a list of equipment needed (with Amazon links) for the setup in the diagram above:

1) Soaker Hose – jump here for recommendations

2) 1/2″ Polyurethane Tubing 

  • If you have some garden hoses lying around that you’re not using, you can use those in place of the poly tubing.  

3) 4 Way Splitter Valve

4) Elbow or “L” brackets

  • You may end up needing to cut your soaker hose to fit your desired configuration.  If you do, you’ll need this 1/2″ to 1/2″ tubing elbow adapter to connect your soaker to poly tubing
  • If you don’t cut your soaker hose, you’ll likely have the factory male thread coupler at the end of the soaker.  If that’s the case, you’ll need  this 1/2″ tubing to 3/4″ FTH adapter to connect your soaker to the poly tubing.  

5)  1/2″ Tubing Faucet Adapters

  • The soaker hoses I recommended above all come with one of these.   You should only need 2 of these to connect the poly tubing to the 4 way splitter.

6) Back-flow & Pressure Regulator 

  • Sometimes soil containing harmful bacteria can make its way into a soaker hose.  This 2 in 1 contraption will prevent any of those materials from flowing back through the hose into your water supply.  
  • It will also regulate the water pressure coming from your faucet, which helps prevent hose leaks.
Optional Equipment to Consider

Here are some items you might consider picking up.  Either now or the next time you’re at your local hardware store.

  • Irrigation Timer – Not required, but very handy if you’re busy traveling or just a little forgetful.  Just be sure you examine your trees once a week for leaf discoloration and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.  More on that here.
  • 1/2″ Hose Clamps – Handy if you notice leaking around the ends of your hose where you’ve cut and installed a coupler.  Tighten these down on the hose where it meets the coupler and it should seal things nicely. 
  • 1/2″ tube to 3/4″ MTH Coupler – You’ll need this if you decide to cut a long soaker hose into 2 pieces.  Make sure you also have an extra FTH coupler to connect to the 4 way valve.
  • Hose Staples – These will help you keep your hoses in the desired formation. 
  • Mulch –  This is one of many varieties of mulch.  Pick a style that suits your taste, which you can find at your nursery or hardware store.   You do want to cover your hoses to protect them from UV damage.
  • Hose Repair Couplings – These are handy to have in case your soaker or drip tubing springs a leak.  Take some scissors to either side of the leak, fit the open ends of tube onto this coupling, and tighten. 

Soaker Hose for Arborvitae Step by Step Instructions 

1) Attach Back-flow Preventer to water Source

Also if you’ve elected to install a timer (jump here for details),  you can install that before the back-flow preventer.  

First attach the timer to the faucet, the back-flow preventer to the timer, followed by the garden hose to the back-flow preventer. 

1) Connect Garden Hose to Back-flow Preventer

If your trees are far from your water source, you’ll want to use a garden hose or non-porous poly tubing to carry water over the area of your yard where water is not needed.  

A soaker hose releases water through the full length of it’s walls.  In order to maintain optimal pressure, you want to make sure water is not seeping out where it’s not needed.

If you’re in need of a garden hose, here’s a link to my recommendation for the best garden hose on the market.  

2) Attach 4 Way Split Valve to Garden Hose

Attach to the exposed male threading of the hose.

3) Measure the distance from your split valve to the end of your tree line.  

The poly tubing will run relatively straight next to your tree line, whereas the soaker hose will run in a figure “8” formation.    Keeping this in mind, cut your hose accordingly.

4) Attach 2 Polyurethane Hoses and 2 Soaker Hoses to 4 Way Splitter
5) Run Poly Tubing Parallel to Tree Line and Attach Elbow Coupler

One pro tip here is to boil some water and keep it with you in an insulated canteen.  Dip the end of the poly tubing into the water before installing the coupler.  

The heat makes the polyurethane easier to work with.  

6) Run Soaker Hoses in Inverted Figure “8” Formation Around Trees, Connect to Elbow Coupler

You want to encircle each tree with soaker hose.   To do this you’ll run one hose in a figure “8” formation around the line of trees followed by the second soaker hose in the opposite figure “8” formation.  

Attach the open end of the soaker hose to the open end of the elbow coupler attached to the poly tubing. 

7) Turn Water On and Observe

At this point your arborvitae soaker hose system is set up. Examine your soaker hoses for any uneven weeping of water on the line.  

If you notice that the end closer to the water source is releasing more water than the back end, you can adjust by partially closing the valves on the 4 way splitter that feed the soaker hoses.  

In doing so, you send less water to the front of the line,  diverting it to the back of the soaker line through the poly tubing. 

Soaker Hose Watering Schedule for Arborvitae 

Arborvitae and other evergreens don’t go completely dormant during winter months, so they will need regular year round watering. 

When the root balls are young and small, they can’t reach the water deep in the ground as fully developed root balls can.   

Thus trees require substantial watering in their first year in the ground.   Soak your soil for 30 minutes 3-4 times per week or an hour 2-3 times per week.    Keep a close eye on your trees.   

If you notice a browning of the leaves, it’s most likely because they are not getting enough water.  If that’s the case, add 30 minutes of soaking time to each interval.