Choose the Right Garden Hose
Rolling out the garden hose is as much a rite of spring as observing the first robin or smelling the first blossom. If you've chosen a garden hose that isn't strong enough to handle the rigors you put it through on a daily basis, you may find yourself rolling out an increasingly leaky and ineffective hose each year.
With a variety of materials, fittings and lengths to choose from, you'll have no trouble selecting a hose that suits your needs while providing a number of helpful features and offering aesthetic appeal in a range of colors. Keep the following questions in mind as you shop to find the right hose for your lawn and garden:
• How long do you need the hose to be?
• How thick should the hose be?
• What type of material best fits your climate and watering needs?
• Do you need a reinforced hose to handle tougher tasks?
• What specialty hoses are available to maximize watering effectiveness?
Construction, Size, Maintenance and Specialty Hoses
The climate in which you live and the activities you plan to use your hose for will play a large role in determining its ideal characteristics. Hoses are generally made from vinyl, rubber or a combination of the two. Lengths can vary from 10 to over 100-feet, and the diameter can range from ½ to ¾-inches. If you have multiple spigots and need water in more than one part of your yard, you'll want to purchase more than one hose.
Different watering needs in different parts of your yard may make it sensible to purchase different kinds of hoses. Specialized needs, such as watering a garden or servicing an RV, can be handled by specialty hoses.
Flowers : There are several varieties of flowers that thrive with regular feeding. For example, spring bulbs can benefit both at planting time and after the plants have emerged from the ground. Roses need more fertilizer than other shrubs and benefit from frequent feeding about three to four weeks after planting. Older roses and climbers have large root systems so they do not need feeding as often.
Other flowers that benefit from fertilizer include azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. Compared to your lawn or vegetable garden, these flowering shrubs may require less fertilization, but light applications of plant food enhance their appearance and help ensure beautiful blooms
• Use bone meal at planting time to help bulbs grow strong roots and blooms
• For established roses, start feeding in springtime when new growth is about 6-inches
• Roses that continue to bloom all summer need regular feeding
• For azaleas and acid-loving shrubs, use fertilizer with iron, sulfur and magnesium
• Flowers need lots of phosphorus so make sure this nutrient is present
Material and Reinforcement: Hoses are usually constructed from vinyl or rubber, but combinations of the two and the addition of other materials for extra reinforcement are not uncommon. Vinyl provides an economical choice that is best for mild climates and lighter watering tasks. Rubber hoses require a larger up-front investment and weigh more than vinyl hoses, but they are tougher, more durable under harsh weather conditions and have the ability to carry hot water.
Hoses comprised of a combination of both materials cost somewhat more than vinyl but less than rubber while providing rubber's flexibility and durability along with vinyl's lighter weight. Hoses may be reinforced with a number of layers, or plies, for greater resilience. Some also feature a mesh outer layer to help protect them from snags and punctures.
• Reinforced vinyl hoses are lightweight to make carrying easy
• Rubber hoses are least likely to kink, and they resist cracking and ozone deterioration
• Rubber/vinyl may have a foam cover that provides a soft feel and better kink resistance
• Hoses with higher burst-pressure ratings are less likely to be damaged by surges in water pressure
• Nylon and rayon may be used to reinforce hoses with greater strength and durability
Size and Fittings: There are two important size considerations to take into account when purchasing a hose, length and diameter. Lengths start at 10-feet and can often be found in 25-foot increments (50, 75, etc.) up to 100-feet. Choose a length that's long enough to reach watering areas, as you don't want to underwater grass at the edge of your lawn or put stress on the hose by tugging on it to pull it out beyond its range.
Try to avoid choosing one that's too long, as longer hoses weigh more and have higher chances of accidental snaggs or punctures. Hose diameter is usually 1/2, 5/8 or ¾-inches. The fitting, which connects the hose to the faucet, is often made from either brass or plastic. Octagon-shaped female fittings are easier to handle than standard round fittings.
• Commercial hoses can exceed 100-feet in length
• Connecting two smaller hoses can provide extra length
• The larger the diameter of a hose, the less pressure it will lose
• 5/8-inches is ideal for most everyday lawn and garden use
• Plastic fittings are more economical
• Brass fittings hold their threads longer and provide greater durability and performance
Maintenance and Care: Taking good care of your hose can extend its life considerably. Avoid leaving hoses out in direct sunlight, as doing so may cause the water inside to boil, leading to interior damage. Avoid bending or kinking hoses during cold weather and coil hoses when not in use to prevent cracking.
Keep close tabs on where your hose is at all times to avoid accidentally mowing over it or cutting it with an edge trimmer. Purchasing a hose for each faucet will save you time and allow you to better select the right hose for different jobs.
• Drain hoses before freezing temperatures set in to prevent expansion and breakage
• Avoid dragging hoses over rough surfaces or areas with sharp objects
• Choose heavy-duty rubber hoses for intense commercial applications
Specialty Hoses: In addition to traditional garden hoses, there are several different types of specialty hoses available. These hoses provide complementary functions or enhanced convenience. Remember that not all hoses are safe to drink water from, so be sure to purchase a hose specifically designed for transporting potable water if the need arises, especially if it's a hose children will be using. The chart below details some useful specialty hoses:
Benefits and Uses
|Camper/RV/Boat||• Features a nontoxic core
• Safe for drinking water from
• Ideal for use in recreational vehicles
|Flat||• Lies flat until water pressure causes it to become round
• Easy to store
• Takes up less space
|Soaker||• Features thousands of tiny hole
• Ideal for watering flowerbeds and gardens
• Won't damage delicate plants
|Sprinkler||• Features hundreds of perforations
• Casts water in a mist-like rain
• Ideal for general lawn- and garden-watering purposes
Reels and Hangers: These units make it easy to store hoses in a manner that prevents kinks, helping to ensure consistent, long-lasting performance.
Antimicrobial Protection: An important feature in hoses that are safe for drinking water, antimicrobial protection prevents unwanted bacterial growth.
Beveled Sides: Beveled sides on the fitting make it easier to use a wrench to tighten and loosen connections for greater convenience.
Hose Saver: This inexpensive, wire-reinforced hose section takes some of the tension off the fitting to prevent damage when the hose is pulled on or tugged.
Nozzles and Attachments: There is a wide selection of nozzles and attachments available to make your watering jobs easier, ranging from sprayers to sprinklers.