Types of garden hoses

Best Garden Hoses: Guide & Recommendations

Updated August 21, 2018

With so many options to choose from and little visible difference between garden hoses, it’s tempting to simply choose the cheapest one. But small differences can have a big impact on how long the hose lasts and how easy it is to use.

A good garden hose should last 5 to 10 years. But many homeowners who buy lower quality hoses end up replacing theirs each year due to leaks, cracks or rot. Although some problems can be repaired, it’s generally more cost-effective to buy a good quality hose to begin with.

In this article, we review the features to consider when buying a new garden hose so that you’ll know what to look for in choosing a quality product.

If you’re just interested in the different types of hoses and our recommendations for the best garden hose, scroll down to Types of Hoses.

How to Choose the Best Garden Hose for You

There isn’t just one kind of garden hose that’s perfect for everyone. What works best for you will depend on the size of the area in which you’ll be using it, what you’ll use the hose for and where you’ll store it, as well as your budget. But, in general, there are six things you should consider when choosing a garden hose.

Important Considerations When Buying a Garden Hose

1. Length – Longer is Not Better

Only buy the length you need, no longer

Garden hoses come in 25-, 50-, 75- and 100-foot lengths. It’s tempting to buy one longer hose and use it for all of your watering needs around the garden. But don’t do it. Not only do longer hoses cost more, but they’re heavier to move around, need more storage space, can be difficult to drain before putting them away for the winter, and can result in lower water pressure coming out the end.

Measure the farthest distance from your spigot and buy a hose that goes just beyond that. You don’t want to tug on the hose to stretch it out as that’s likely to cause snags or leaks.

On a deck or balcony, a 25-foot garden hose is usually fine. Most urban yards need only a 50-foot hose, at most. If you need a longer length of hose than 50 feet, consider buying two hoses and joining them together when you need to go beyond 50 feet. That way you’re not lugging around a long, heavy garden hose all the time.

2. Hose Diameter – Width = Water Flow

The most common garden hose diameters are ¾ inch, five-eighths inch and half inch. These measurements are based on the inside diameter of the hose, not the outside. The bigger the diameter, the more water the hose will carry.

A hose width of five-eighths inch is generally most useful. It’s a good combination of water flow and pressure without being too heavy.

If hose weight is an issue for you, a half-inch hose may be best. They tend to be lighter weight but because of the smaller diameter they don’t carry as much water. Half-inch garden hoses are best kept to 50 feet or less and used for light-duty gardening tasks, such as watering containers and hanging baskets. These hoses are not appropriate for use with sprinklers or anything that requires higher water pressure (like washing your car).

3. Material – Rubber is Best

Garden hoses come in a range of colors and materials

You’ll commonly find garden hoses made of rubber, vinyl, or a combination of the two.

A basic vinyl hose (usually reinforced with a radial cord) is the least expensive and most lightweight option but also the least sturdy. It’s more prone to kinking, splitting and cracking than other materials and can degrade quickly if left in the sun or exposed to harsh weather. But if budget is an issue and you’ll only be using the hose for light duty gardening tasks, then a vinyl garden hose can be a good option.

Rubber hoses are generally the strongest and most long-lasting, but also carry the highest price tag and can be heavy to haul around the garden. Rubber has the added benefits of being able to carry hot water, being less likely to kink, and resisting cracking and ozone deterioration (so they don’t fall apart if left in the sun). For heavy duty use and a hose that lasts through many seasons, rubber is the best choice.

A middle-of-the-road option is a composite rubber/vinyl garden hose.

Reinforced hoses (usually reinforced with a mesh lining between layers of vinyl and/or rubber) are more resistant to kinking and splitting, and can take higher water pressure levels.

Although additional layers (or “plies”) tend to suggest a stronger hose, don’t put too much stock in this figure—the number of layers doesn’t matter as much as what those layers are made from. A strengthening “mesh” layer is a good sign, other things being equal.

Be careful with both rubber and vinyl garden hoses as they leach chemicals into the water than make it unsafe to drink. If you or your pets will be drinking from the hose, invest in a “drinking water safe” hose. These are generally made from polyurethane and have been specially built so as not to leach harmful chemicals.

4. Strength – Look at Burst Pressure

Some types of hoses are more prone to rupture than others. Be sure to buy one with the right burst pressure rating.

Garden hose strength can be measured in terms of “burst pressure” (the water pressure at which it is likely to rupture). If you’ll be using a hose nozzle or a sprinkler, look for a hose with a burst pressure above 350 psi. For pressure washer use, check your manual before buying a hose – you may need an even higher psi.

5. Flexibility – Try the Kink Test

You want a garden hose that’s flexible (for easy storage, going around corners, etc.) but not so flexible that it kinks easily. Kinking leads to splitting and shortens the life of your hose. While all garden hoses will kink if twisted (yes, even the “kink-free” hoses), some are better than others. In general, reinforced and rubber hoses are less likely to kink than other kinds.

When shopping for a garden hose, bend it into a U. If it kinks, pick another.

6. Couplings – Look For Cast Brass

Stamped metal (like the coupling shown here) is usually not the best choice.

Garden hose couplings are the end pieces that attach to spigots, sprinklers and nozzles.

Less expensive hoses often have plastic couplings. Avoid these – they’re more prone to leaks, cracks and breakage and often can’t be tightened properly. Plastic also breaks down quickly, particularly when left in the sun.

Metal couplings (usually brass, although many are chrome plated) are either stamped or cast. You can identify cast brass because it’s thicker than sheet metal and usually has an octagonal shape so that the coupling can be turned with a wrench. Couplings made from cast brass are the most durable and leak-resistant. Thin stamped-metal fittings can be difficult to tighten at the spigot, bend easily (so don’t step on it or run over it with the lawnmower or car), and break down over time.

All else being equal, a large octagon-shaped coupling is easiest to tighten, particularly for those of us with stiff fingers or lower grip strength.

While many hoses come with a washer inserted into the coupling, these are often thin plastic washers that quickly break down. We always recommend that you use a high quality rubber washer (such as this one from Gilmour) at the connection point between the hose fitting and the spigot or nozzle. This will help prevent leaks.

Look for a collar. Quality hoses often have a plastic or rubber “collar” extending perhaps four to six inches up the hose from one coupling. This reduces the odds of a kink or split near the spigot, where they are particularly common.

Types of Garden Hoses

Below are descriptions of the most common types of garden hoses, along with our recommendations. Hover over each product name or image for pricing details.

Lightweight / Light Duty Hoses

These hoses are generally made from vinyl (sometimes with a reinforcing mesh or multiple plies (layers)) so can kink more easily, often have plastic fittings, and tend to come in thinner diameters but prices are in the lower range.

If you’re gardening on a budget, won’t be using it often, don’t need a long hose (over 50 feet), and have lower water pressure or don’t use a sprinkler or hose nozzle, then a lightweight hose will probably meet your needs.

While you can find light duty hoses online, your best bet is to visit your local home improvement store or garden center. You’ll find some of the heavier duty hoses there as well, but many of them are perfect for light duty use.

Regular and Heavy Duty Hoses

Price Reduction Dramm ColorStorm Premium Rubber Garden Hose This incredibly tough, virtually kink-free rubber hose stands up to the elements (mine has been out in the sun for 5 years). Available in 6 fun colors! $52.79 −$7.80 $44.99 See Our Review See it on Amazon Flexzilla Garden Hose with SwivelGrip, 5/8 in. x 25 ft., Heavy Duty, Lightweight, Drinking Water… A top quality, high tech hose that’s truly kink free and built to last. It’s lightweight, has aluminum couplers, coils easily and stays flexible at low temperatures. $32.09 See Our Review See it on Amazon Flexon PH5850 Garden Hose, 50ft With crush-proof solid brass couplings, high burst strength, and a 10-year warranty, this heavy-duty rubber garden hose is built to last. $41.82 See Our Review See it on Amazon

Briggs and Stratton 8BS50 50-Foot Premium Heavy-Duty Rubber Garden Hose
>> Thick rubber with nickel-plated brass couplings. Stays flexible in very cold weather and can be used with hot water up to 200F. Made in the USA.

Scotts SMF58050CC MaxFlex Premium Heavy Duty Garden Hose, 5/8-Inch by 50-Feet, Green
>> Lead-free for safe drinking, with heavy-duty aluminum couplings, reinforcement at the spigot end, and a 500psi burst strength. Features ‘Lay-Flat technology’ to resist kinking.

NeverKink 8844-50 Series 4000 Commercial Duty Pro Garden Hose, 5/8-Inch by 50-Feet
>>The company guarantees this hose not to kink. Has a coiled collar at the spigot end, lead-free aluminum couplings, and an anti-microbial to prevent build-up of mold and mildew. Stays flexible down to 45 degrees. Made in USA.

Tuff-Guard The Perfect Garden Hose, Kink Proof Garden Hose, 5/8-Inch by 50 Feet
>> This hose has a unique polypropylene double helix coil around the hose’s exterior to give it stability. It’s flexible but kink-free. 300 psi burst pressure. Machined brass couplings.

Gilmour 10058050 8-ply Flexogen Hose, 5/8-Inch by 50 Feet
>> With a lifetime replacement guarantee, this hose stays flexible at temperatures below freezing, has brass couplings and a collar, and a 500 psi burst strength rating.

Expandable Hoses

An expandable hose that hasn’t properly contracted after use.

You’ve probably seen ads on TV for these scrunchie-like hoses that expand up to three times their length when filled with water. They’re very lightweight (usually around 1 lb) and usually come in bright colors. Most are ½ inch in diameter and have adequate water flow comparable to a non-expandable garden hose of that diameter, but not what you’d get from a regular hose.

Although they do expand as advertised, over time expandable hoses tend to stop contracting properly, leaving you with a hose that’s difficult to coil or store. Be aware that when you open the nozzle after the hose is expanded it will shrink (sometimes dramatically) as the water pressure in the hose decreases.

And if you have high water pressure or leave the full hose in the sun, expandable hoses are prone to rupturing because of the thin (non-reinforced) and highly flexible inner tube.

Having said that, many people do like expandable hoses because of the light weight. They’re best stored out of the sun, treated gently (they usually have crack-prone plastic couplings, although some of the hoses listed below have brass couplings), and used for hand watering, rather than being hooked up to a sprinkler or soaker hose. And be prepared to replace your hose frequently…

We’ve tested a range of expandable hoses and there is only one we recommend at this time.

AeroFlex Stretch Hose This hose is kink-free, lightweight but very durable, and easy to coil or store away. Plus, unlike other expandable hoses, it stretches to a full-size 5/8 inch diameter and 50 feet in length. With a 5-year warranty and no signs of wear after almost a year of extensive use in the garden, it is clearly built to last. $24.99 See Our Review See it on Amazon

Drinking Water Safe Hoses

If you or your pets will be drinking from the hose or if you’re using it to fill a pool that will be used by children, make sure that your garden hose doesn’t leach harmful chemicals.

Most garden hoses are made with materials like plasticizers that give the hose flexibility but also contain chemicals, like BPA, lead, and phthalates, that find their way into the water in the hose. While these chemicals don’t harm your plants, they are toxic to humans.

Look for hoses labeled “drinking water safe” or at least “lead-free” – you’ll often find them sold for recreational use, such as for use in boats and RVs. These hoses are made with non-toxic, FDA-approved inner cores that don’t leach harmful chemicals.

And let water run through the hose until it’s cold before watering your vegetables or other edibles (chemicals leach from the hose and concentrate in the water as it heats up inside a hose that’s been left in the sun).

Camco 22853 Premium Drinking Water Hose (5/8″ID x 50′)
>> 20 percent thicker than standard drinking water hoses and leaves no strong plastic taste in your drinking water. Machined nickel-plated brass fittings and strain-relief ends for added durability. Made in USA.

Water Right PSH-050-MG-4PKRS Polyurethane Lead Safe Ultra-Light Slim Garden Hose, 50-Foot x 7/16-Inch, Olive Green
>> Chrome-plated machined brass fittings with collars on both hose ends. 7/16-inch inside diameter handles 4-5 gallons per minute flow rate, although this is less than the typical 5/8″ hose. Comes in four colors. Made in USA.

Plastair Marine/RV SpringHose PUWE625B9-M-3-AMZ 25-foot 3/8-inch Drinking Safe Water Hose, Blue
>> This lightweight hose is built primarily for marine use (with anti-salt water corrosive fittings) but works well for watering in small areas. Only stretches out to about 15 feet so buy a longer one if you need more reach.

Soaker Hoses

Soaker hoses are typically used for garden irrigation. These hoses are often made of recycled rubber and plastics and have porous walls. When the water is turned on, it oozes out through thousands of tiny holes in the hose, letting water seep out into or onto the surrounding soil.

Soaker hoses can either be laid directly on the ground (preferably below a layer of mulch), buried just under the surface, or even buried 6 or more inches deep (this is commonly done in large vegetable beds).

Soaker hoses come in a variety of diameters and lengths, from ¼-inch (these typically are part of a drip irrigation system and can be cut to length) to ¾-inch (these are the large black hoses you often see in garden centers). The larger hoses can be difficult to handle as they’re not very flexible. Use garden stakes to hold them in place and let them lie in the sun for a while to “soften up” before laying them in the garden.

Soaker hoses are best for relatively level sites and shorter lengths (although ¼ soaker hose can be effective for up to about 100 feet). If you’re using a large diameter soaker hose you’ll need decent water pressure to ensure that water seeps out along the entire length of the hose.

Dramm 17010 ColorStorm Premium 50-Foot-by-5/8-Inch Soaker Garden Hose, Black
>> Made from recycled material with nickel-plated brass fittings and extra thick walls to minimize spurting. Has a lifetime guarantee. >> READ OUR REVIEW!

Miracle Gro MGSPA38050FM Premium Soaker Hose with Fittings, 3/8-Inch by 50-Feet
>> This hose has no attached couplings. Instead, you cut it to the desired length and insert the provided friction-fit, plastic male and female fittings. With two of each, you can even cut this into two separate hoses.

MELNOR Flat Soaker Hose, 25-Feet
>> This flat soaker hose is made from a woven/mesh material and has plastic couplings. It’s not a hose that you’d bury but it’s more flexible than a rubber soaker and works well with low water pressure.

Apex 1030-100 Soil Soaking Hose, 100-Feet
>> Unlike most soaker hoses, this one is made from vinyl for better flexibility. Available in a 25′, 50′, 75′ and 100′ lengths. Made in the USA.

Snip-n-Drip Soaker Hose System
>> These 1/2-inch hoses are easily customizable to meet your irrigation needs – just cut pieces to length and connect. Includes 50′ of 1/2″ soaker hose, 25′ of 1/2″ garden hose, 1 faucet adapter, 1 quick-connect coupler, 8 hose couplers and an end cap. From Gardener’s Supply. >> READ OUR REVIEW

Raindrip 015005T 1/4-Inch by 50-Feet Porous Soaker Tubing
>> This 1/4-inch porous tubing is typically used as part of a drip irrigation system. You’ll need to buy 1/4-inch barbed fittings and provide a 1/2-inch or larger water supply line, but it’s an efficient way to water and easy to set up.

Coiled Hoses

A coiled hose is formed into a tight spiral that pulls together when not in use and can be pulled out for use (some to an almost straight length of hose). They generally come in shorter lengths (15-foot and 25-foot lengths are most common, although some companies make longer ones) and a ½-inch or smaller diameter (resulting in lower water flow and pressure compared to a typical garden hose).

Because of the coils, these hoses tend not to stretch out to the full length. For example, a 25-foot hose may only extend 15 to 20 feet so take that into consideration when buying one.

And storage can be a little tricky; coiled hoses can’t be stored on a hose reel and will quickly tangle if placed in a large pot or storage bin. There are wall-mounted and stand-up hangers made for coiled hose storage but I’ve found that the coils get caught on the hanger.

Coiled hoses are best for hand watering and use in smaller areas, such as a patio or balcony, where the hose can be stored out of the way.

Water Right PCH-050-MG-6PKRS Polyurethane Lead Safe Coil Garden Hose, 50-Foot x 3/8-Inch (Olive Green)
>> Chrome-plated machined brass fittings with a collar and a 12-inch section of straight hose at both ends to make it easier to attach and use. Drinking water safe. Stretches just over 40 feet. Made in USA.

Flexon PCH5850 Coil Hose, 50 feet (Green)
>> Features a coil spring hose protector and solid brass compression couplings, plus a faucet adapter. 5/8-inch diameter at widest point (it’s somewhat oval shaped).

Swan Self Coiling WRHC1200050 50-Foot Water Hose (Blue)
>> A little thinner and softer than the other hoses but lightweight.

Flat Hoses

Flat garden hoses are similar to a fireman’s hose; they’re round when full of water but flatten down when empty. They’re generally lightweight, easy to roll up (they’re self-draining) and take less storage space than a conventional hose, but can be difficult to store without a hose reel.

Some flat hoses are sold with a hose reel but for ones that aren’t, check that they will fit with your existing reel (or the one you’re considering buying).

Because they’re very flexible (so that they can flatten out), flat garden hoses are generally made of vinyl, puncture and kink more easily and have a lower burst pressure rating. They also don’t work very well when pulled around corners. Plus, you have to unroll the entire hose before turning on the water.

Flat garden hoses are best used when storage space is an issue and the hose will be used in a straight line over a surface without many snags. In general, these are not the best choice for frequent use in the garden and there are none that we recommend for that purpose.

Video Resources

How to Repair the Damaged End of a Garden Hose

How to Fix a Ruptured, Punctured or Leaking Garden Hose

Now over to you – Which garden hoses have you used? What did you like? Not like? Let us know in the comments below!

Last update on 2020-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Garden Hose Information: Learn About Using Hoses In The Garden

While not exactly the most fascinating subject in gardening to read about, hoses are a necessity to all gardeners. Hoses are a tool and, as with any job, it is important to select the proper tool for the job. There are many hoses to choose from and which hose you will need depends on the site and the plants, but also your own preferences. Continue reading to learn about different types of garden hoses and specific uses for garden hoses.

Garden Hose Information

It may seem like a hose is just a hose. However, each spring, home improvement stores and garden centers fill aisles with different types of garden hoses. These hoses come in many different lengths, most commonly 25-100 feet (7.6 to 30 m.). Naturally, what length you need depends on what you are watering. If your garden is only 10 feet away from the spigot, it’s probably not necessary to buy a 100 foot long hose (30 m.). Likewise, if your garden is way in the back of your yard, you may need to buy more than one hose and connect them to reach the garden.

Hoses also come in different diameters. The most common is a ½ inch (1.2

cm.) diameter, though you can also get hoses with a 5/8 or ¾ inch (1.58 to 1.9 cm.) diameters. The diameter of the hose controls how quickly water flows through it. On average, a ½-inch diameter hose, disperses nine gallons of water per minute, while 5/8-inch diameter hoses disperse fifteen gallons of water per minute, and ¾-inch hoses can disperse up to twenty-five gallons of water per minute. In addition to this, the length of the hose also affects water flow and pressure. The longer the hose, the less water pressure you will have.

Size is not the only difference in garden hoses. They can also be constructed of different amounts of layers or ply. The more layers, the stronger and more durable the hose will be. Hoses are usually labeled as one to six ply. However, it is what the hose is actually made of that determines its durability. Garden hoses are usually made of vinyl or rubber. Vinyl hoses are lightweight, but they kink more easily and do not last as long. Vinyl hoses are also less expensive. Rubber hoses can be very heavy, but they last longer if properly stored.

Some hoses are made with metal coils or cords between layers of vinyl or rubber. These coils are intended to make them kink-free. In addition, black hoses heat up in the sun and if water has been left in them, the water may be too hot for plants. Green hoses stay cooler.

Using Hoses in the Garden

There are also specific uses for specific garden hoses. Sprinkler hoses are capped at one end and water is then forced out of little holes along the hose. Sprinkler hoses are oftentimes used for watering lawns or new planting beds. Soaker hoses are made from a porous material that allows water too slowly seep into the root zones of newly planted beds. The main purpose of flat garden hoses is easy storage.

To get the longest life out of whichever hose you prefer, the following tips should help:

  • Store hoses out of direct sunlight.
  • Drain and coil hoses between uses.
  • Store hoses by hanging them.
  • Don’t allow hoses to stay kinked, as this can lead to a permanent weak spot on the hose.
  • Drain and store hoses in a garage or shed through winter.
  • Don’t leave hoses lying out where they can be run over or tripped on.

Garden Hose Buying Guide

Garden hoses come in many styles, colors and sizes, and may include features, such as kink resistance, multiply construction or microbial protection. You’ll also find hoses that are more durable and have additional features, such as a water-flow control valve that allows you to turn off the water flow and easily change nozzles.

Materials

Vinyl and vinyl-reinforced hoses are inexpensive, lightweight and easy to handle. Rubber hoses and hoses reinforced with rubber are heavier and more durable. Reinforced hoses stand up to temperature changes better and are less likely to kink or burst. Extra-flexible, lightweight, easy-to-store plastic hoses are another option.

Ply

A ply is a layer. More plies mean more strength. Household hoses vary from one to six plies, often with a reinforcing mesh layer in between.

Size

Hose diameters range from 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch. In the United States, most standard garden hoses are 5/8 inch in diameter. The bigger the diameter, the more water is delivered.

Length

Garden hoses are available in increments of 25 feet, usually 25 to 100 feet in total length. Water pressure diminishes as the hose length increases, so buy a hose that’s long enough to reach where you’ll be using it and no longer. If you occasionally require a long hose, buy two shorter ones and combine when needed. Shorter hoses are available to extend to hard-to-reach spigots or for patio use.

Coupling (or Fitting)

The coupling is where the hose attaches to the water supply. Your two main choices are metal (usually brass) and plastic. Brass is more durable than plastic but may be difficult for anyone with limited hand strength to tighten to the spigot. For easy hand tightening, choose a hose with an ergonomically shaped plastic coupling. Some hoses are reinforced near the coupling to help prevent kinking at the faucet.

Type

In addition to the common-type hose, there are other specialty types available. Sprinkler and soaker hoses are made especially for lawn and garden irrigation. Sprinkler hoses are designed for use on the ground surface and also dotted with holes on one side to gently spray upwards. A soaker hose is porous and can be buried under a layer of mulch. The hose leaks small amounts of water directly to your garden or flower bed’s roots with little waste. Commercial hoses are designed for hot water and heavy-duty continuous use. Hoses should always be used with ambient water temperatures, so hot water should only be used in hoses specifically designed for hot water use.

Why the size of a man’s (garden) hose matters

IT’S the age-old question about whether size and the length of a man’s hose matters. 

Garden hose, that is.

Hoselink conducted a survey of more than 2000 people to discover the changing hose habits of Australians.

It revealed men in regional areas typically had longer hoses than their city counterparts.

But does size really matter? Hoselink founder Tim Kierath said it was incredibly important, and there was a way to tell what size was best for you.

“Hoses come in all different lengths and longer is not necessarily better,” he said.

“You should only buy the length you need and that will depend on the size of the area that the hose will be used in, what it’s used for and where it will be stored.” 

The longer the hose, the heavier it will be to move around, the more storage space it needs and it can also result in lower water pressure at the end. 

In order to choose a hose, Mr Kierath advised measuring the longest distance from the tap and buying a hose that goes just beyond that. 

Tugging on the hose to stretch it out is not recommended. If “click-on” fittings are being used he said it was likely they would give way. 

In terms of size, a 12mm diameter hose is the most useful and common diameter for a garden hose around the home. For regional areas and commercial applications, an 18mm diameter hose was typically used providing a much higher water flow rate.

If you’re now feeling a little shy your hose isn’t up to the standard, get a FREE 15m Hoselink Retractable Hose Reel when you take out a 12-month unlimited digital subscription to our news site. The deal is valued at $440 but you pay just $199. On top of unlimited access to our website, you get The Courier Mail+ (or The Daily Telegraph+ for NSW) and The Washington Post. If you’d prefer a six-month subscription to all of the above instead, you’ll get a FREE Ned Kelly Starter Kit including a 7-function spray gun. The deal is worth $150, you pay just $99!

Head HERE or phone 1300 361 604 for more information and to subscribe. Offer available until April 12.

How to Water Plants

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Hoses are great for outdoor watering if you know the right way to use them. Make sure your plants get the right amount of water with these hose techniques.

­Hoses are a versatile tool in dealing with your lawn and garden. The following tips will help you ensure that your grass and garden are getting the right amount of irrigation.

Stretch soaker hoses through the garden to provide water directly to plant roots. Soaker hoses are made of water-permeable fabrics, perforated recycled rubber, or ­other porous materials.
When attached to a hose with the water turned on low or medium, moisture droplets weep out along the length of the hose. Very little evaporates and none sprays on plant foliage, helping discourage diseases. But it may take an hour or more depending on your soil. Soaker hoses require a little special attention in order to work properly. Here are some hints: ­

  • Soaker hoses work best at low pressure (10 psi). If you have high pressure, consider a pressure regulator or flow reducer for optimal performance.
  • Run soaker hoses straight through the garden. If set to turn or curve too sharply, they will kink and won’t fill with water.
  • Expect more water to be released from the far end of the faucet and less to be released from the closest end.
  • If the hose is moistening only one side of a plant root system, move the hose to water the dry side before you consider the job done.
  • To determine if the soil has been watered enough, dig
    into the soil beside the hose. If the water has seeped 12 inches down, it’s about time to turn off the hose. Remember how long this took for the next time around.
  • For faster results, look for flat hoses that are peppered with small holes. Of course there’s a trade-off: These hoses do provide water more quickly, but they are not as gentle on the soil.
  • If you like soaker hose results, you can upgrade to permanent or semipermanent drip irrigation systems. Although more expensive, these systems are custom-designed for varying soil types and individual plant water needs. They also don’t require shuffling around the garden.
  • Plants to Water in the Morning
    The following plants absorb nourishing water best in the morning:
    • Apples
    • Beans
    • Begonias
    • Blackberries
    • Cherries
    • Cucumbers
    • Dahlias
    • Geraniums
    • Grapes
    • Melons
    • Peaches
    • Pears
    • Peonies
    • Plums
    • Raspberries
    • Roses
    • Strawberries
    • Tomatoes­

    ­Wheel hose carts around the yard instead of dragging armloads of hoses and causing wear and tear on your back. Hose carts consist of a reel with a crank that you can use to neatly coil the hose, eliminating tangles, knots, and kinks. This reel is set on a two- or four-wheeled base with a handle for easy pulling. Look for large-wheeled types if you’re rolling the cart over the lawn or rough ground. Smaller wheels are fine on a paved path or patio.

  • ­Pla­ce hose guides at the edges of garden beds to keep the hose from crushing nearby plants when you pull it taut. Hose guides, such as a wooden stake pounded into the ground at an outward angle, prevent the hose from sliding into the garden. Decorative hose guides (stakes carved like animals, elves, or flowers) can be found at some garden centers, mail-order garden suppliers, or craft shows. You could also improvise by using things like plastic pink flamingos, garden statues, or birdbaths.
  • Use a water breaker on the end of your hose to change heavy water flow into a gentle sprinkle. This helps prevent soil compaction and spreads the water more evenly across planting areas. Put an adjustable spray nozzle on the end of the hose, watering only with the setting that produces fine droplets in a gentle spray and wide arc. Save the strong blasts for washing the car.

    ­ Or, look for spray heads developed specifically for garden use. Some are set on angled bases, making it easy to reach in between plants. Others are on long poles for watering hanging baskets.

Water breakers should be put on watering cans, too, especially when watering young plants such as seedlings, which can be broken or uprooted with a strong drenching.

­Water is a valuable commodity. Learn easy methods of conserving this precious element on the next page of this article.
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