My garden hose might be the hardest working item in the garden (besides me, of course). I always have lots of flowerpots, which need frequent watering, and right now there are new trees and new bushes, and new flower beds . . . all thirsty.
At the same time, there’s probably no other item that I find more exasperating. I’m talking kinks. And leaks. And wobbly connections that drench me before the garden is soaked. I’ve decided to find out what I might do differently to make my hoses behave better. Turns out, taking care of the hoses properly will make them last longer, too.
• If you leave a hose attached to a spigot, always shut off the water when you’re finished spraying. The pressure from the water can damage the interior of the hose.
• While your hose is out, be careful not to run over it with a wheelbarrow or any other heavy object.
• If you’re going to leave your hose out for a bit (heading back to water again after a refreshing lemonade break, for example), leave it stretched out straight, if you can. This will help prevent kinks from developing.
• Don’t drag your hose around by the nozzle. Pull, when you must, by the hose.
• Change the washer in your hose (the little round rubber ring inside the end of your hose) before it leaks. Leaking makes a mess and wastes water. You might make the switch each spring as a matter of routine.
• Use hose guides when running your hose for any distance, to gently guide it around curves. (Guides will also protect your plants from your hose.)
• If you have one or two spots that kink all the time, invest in a couple of hose splints. These are lengths of plastic that slide over the hose and keep it from bending in those kink-prone spots.
• To uncoil your hose when you take it out, attach it to the faucet and turn on the water. The filling water will help remove kinks as you uncoil.
• Use heavy-duty brass fittings to connect your garden hose to your faucet. Avoid plastic fittings. Solid brass is more durable, it won’t mildew like plastic, and it will help prevent leaks.
• Repair leaks promptly. Even a pinhole-size leak can waste a lot of water and make a mess! A rubber tube patch kit will work for most small holes. You can also mend holes or cracks by cutting them out and replacing them with a mender, which is a kind of coupler that will hold the two cut ends together.
• Before putting your hose away, shut off the spigot and continue spraying the nozzle until the hose is empty. Leaving water inside can cause the hose to deteriorate from the inside.
• Store your hose off the ground and out of direct sunlight. Indoors (in a garage or shed) is best, but if you want to leave it out, put your holder in the shade. The UV rays of the sun can damage the outer part of your hose. And if there’s any water inside, it can heat up and damage the inner liner.
• Invest in a hose rack, hose caddy, hose pot, or anything else that allows you to gently coil your hose when you put it away. (If you hang it, leave the nozzle hanging down so it can continue to drain.) I’ve used the outside of a large planting pot to wind the hose around. Some people like to store theirs coiled inside a round container (a trash can or something prettier). Never hang your hose on a nail! A hose hanger will spread the weight evenly.
• Don’t wind your hose too tightly. If it won’t wind without kinking, you may need a larger holder or container.
• Don’t leave your hose on the ground for long periods. It can begin to mildew and rot. Besides, it’ll get dirty.
• When putting away your hose for winter, take off attachments (nozzles, wands), and drain the water out of it. Wipe the outside with a clean washcloth. I like to enlist a bucket of soapy water with a little vinegar in it to get it good and clean and cut any mold or mildew.
When you buy a new hose, consider the material (polyurethane, rubber, latex, even stainless steel) and what you’ll be using it for. How long do you need it to reach? Do you want it to be safe to drink from? If you’re concerned about toxicity — especially for your produce —look for phthalate-free hoses. Did you know that hoses have pressure ratings, too? Here’s a good article on finding the right hose.
My new garden hose is the expandable, spiral-type. So far, I love it, and it hasn’t kinked. One disadvantage is that mine is covered with fabric, and the fabric is getting worn as I drag it over the cement driveway. I definitely won’t be using it to wash the car in the drive. I guess that’s another tip, right? Carry your hose, don’t drag it!
What kind of garden hose do you like? How do you like to store it?
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