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Garden Gadgets: Choosing & Using a Garden Hose

by Nellie Neal

Even if you have an inground irrigation system, every garden needs hoses – to supply water for containers, fill the birdbath and set up a sprinkler for new plantings that need extra attention.

Figure out how far it is from your water source to that container collection and the best places in the garden for sprinklers, then buy hoses to fit. Since water pressure does decrease slightly with hose length, don’t buy much more than you need: lengths range from 25 to 100 feet.  More important to actual water flow is hose diameter. ½ to ¾ inch diameter hoses are the standard sizes, but the difference is dramatic especially when you add a sprinkler. Larger diameter hoses will deliver a greater burst of water through any kind of sprinkler and insure a consistent supply to soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems.

A quality garden hose is worth its price for flexibility, long life and light weight. The best hoses feature brass couplings, built in connectors for easy attaching and thick washers to prevent leaks. Look for hoses with textured surfaces – they’ll be less likely to rip. Take color into consideration since you’ll have to look at the hose for several seasons at least. A red hose will be easier to find in the mulch, but more likely to look like a stripe across the lawn than green. And ask about warranties – better quality hoses often have lifetime guarantees.

Hose reels and guides are simply essential to efficient garden irrigation – and they make your job easier to do. From a simple wall-mounted L to wind the hose around to the Cadillac, a stand-alone wheeled holder that automatically retrieves the hose, reels keep hoses wound up. Visitors won’t trip over a neatly wound hose, you won’t run over it with the lawnmower and proper storage on a reel can extend the life of the hose appreciably. Hose guides can be made from anything heavy enough to keep the hose in line and attractive enough to fit your garden style. Place them to guide the hose between bed and lawn, through the border or down a slope – anywhere you want the hose to go without raking over desirable plants. 

Both bitter cold and prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will age garden hoses, so store them away from these extremes for longest life in any material. 



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