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The Gardener's Hand:   Watering Devices

by Gerry Oliver


To get a handle on watering devices, start with classic watering cans. Their spouts and nozzles help control flow so plants in flats, containers, and seed beds won't wash away. They're handy for fertilizer, too.

When buying a garden hose, check for three things. First, be sure it at least claims not to kink. Cheap hoses and even some pricey ones kink; for the money you save the aggravation isn't worth it. Second, you should consider 5/8" diameter hoses. It will take less time to do your watering. Third, look for flexibility. Pick the hose up and be sure you can move it around comfortably. Buy a little extra length; you'll always use it.

Sprinklers come in all shapes, sizes, and water patterns. Look for low water use sprinklers and remember bigger isn't always better. Two rectangular pattern small ones may cover a bed with less runoff than one huge oscillating sprinkler that waters the bed and the sidewalk. Shrub bubblers will concentrate your watering to a specific area and let you control the flow.

Seriously consider soaker hoses for garden beds. You'll use less water, put water where you want it, and keep leaves dry to help reduce opportunistic diseases. That many soaker hoses are made from recycled tires just increases appreciation for them. For even more conservation, install drip irrigation, and learn to recycle greywater from the washing machine and kitchen sink.

Water straight from the hose can't work for you as well as water shot through a nozzle. Look for: sharply pointed blasters for washing sidewalks and such, fan sprays to water garden beds without splashing soil, curved handles with round water breakers on top for baskets, and fine mist nozzles for seed beds and cuttings.

When installing new landscape plans, take a look at underground irrigation systems. Good designs with the latest equipment save time in the garden and money spent on water.

Whatever device you use to water, the low-down on the how-to about watering remains the same: 1) apply at a rate the ground can absorb with minimal runoff and 2) water deeper but less frequently to encourage plants to develop healthy root zones.



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