Garden Hose Tips
Make easy work of watering your garden with these tips.
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When it's hot outside, you don't want to be digging or hauling or doing other strenuous work in the garden. In fact, it might be a good time to learn a little more about your garden-variety hose. What's the best length? How can you maximize water output? Can you get ergonomic with it? Why yes, you can, says Gardening by the Yard host Paul James.
Get more from your faucet
When just one hose doesn't seem to be enough, try out a multi-faucet manifold (figure A). This device attaches to your main faucet and forks it into several, each with its own shutoff valve. You can dedicate one hose to the front yard, one to the back and a third to filling your watering bucket.
That increased flexibility comes with a small price, though. Whether you choose to increase your faucets to two or four, the pressure to each will drop. Chances are you'll be running only one hose at a time, and the pressure issue won't be a big deal.
Connecting your hose
There are all kinds of ways to connect a hose to a faucet. There's the conventional way, in which you simply thread the female end of the hose onto the faucet. There are also various quick-connect devices that, once installed at both the faucet and the hose, enable you to connect and disconnect the hose quickly and easily.
Other gizmos allow the hose to swivel (figure B) as you move around the yard, thereby reducing wear and tear on the hose fitting.
There are even ergonomic contraptions that make threading the hose onto the faucet easier on your hand and wrist (figure C).
Another place to consider adding on is your faucet knob. There are add-ons that provide ergonomic relief, and there are add-ons that bring old-fashioned faucet knobs up to date and provide extra leverage (figure D).
The watering end of the hose
Here again are all sorts of connection options, including the quick-connect devices already discussed for your faucet:
And you have quick options for making hose repairs. Say you crushed one end of your hose with your car. Simply cut the crushed end, slip a fitting over it, push the new hose end into the hose and tighten the fitting (figures E, F, G and H). It's all done without any tools.
The hose itself
The best tip Paul can give you is simple: Buy the most expense hose you can afford. A cheap hose will be a constant source of pain and aggravation. Quality hoses last longer, don't kink as easily, are more resistant to mildew and are far less likely to leak, especially at the fittings.
But if your hose does get kinky, just toss it out in the yard and start twisting it and turning it to get rid of the kinks.
Hose diameter. Generally speaking, you have three choices in terms of hose diamter – 1/2-inch, 5/8-inch and 3/4-inch. Of the three, Paul suggests either 5/8-inch or 3/4-inch because more fittings are available for those sizes, and they move water faster.
Hose length. The most common sizes are 25, 50, 75 and 100 feet. Wrangling and coiling 100 feet of hose can be a chore, so if you need that much, consider buying two 50-foot hoses and joining them.
Alternative styles. You might want to consider a soaker hose (figure I) for watering. They save water because there are virtually no losses due to wind or evaporation, and they can be left on top of the ground or buried under a light layer of mulch.
And though they've been around forever, there's still a place for the perforated hose (figure J). You can either use it in the conventional sense, with the water spraying up, or you can flip it over, in which case it functions much like a soaker hose.
New on the market are coiled hoses, which take up very little space and are great for watering plants on the patio. Some also come with a wand and special fitting for your kitchen faucet so you can water house plants.
Storing your hose
The choices range from the cheap and simple to the functional and attractive.
Paul's favorite is the automatic hose reel that uses water power to coil the hose (figure K). You simply attach your hose to the fitting inside the unit and go about your watering chores. When you're done, you flip a handle on the unit and the hose winds automatically. The water used to power the reel is discharged through another hose, and you can use that to fill your watering cans.
dual/multi connection faucet adapter,swivel head: DripWorks
brass multi-connection faucet adaptor: Nelson
Quick-Connect adapters, Water Stop, quick-connect adapters: Cascade Sales
large, easy-turn faucet handle: Lee Valley
soaker hose: Rittenhouse
perforated hose: Gardener's Supply
coiled water hose and wand: Plastair
automatic hose coil reel: No-Crank
Master gardener Paul James explains the intricacies of that common garden tool, the watering can.