Selecting a Hose

A hose is indispensable for nearly every lawn and garden. Even in areas that get regular rain, there are often dry spells that can be dangerous for plants. No matter how good your automatic sprinkler design, there are usually areas that don't get enough, causing dry spots. And, there's no good substitute for cleaning up spills or mud run-off from the patio.

Anyone with a garden will save him or herself hours of labor by installing a simple soaker hose system. Not difficult or expensive, they do require a bit of thought. A good soaker hose doesn't spurt, water oozes out small holes. That makes getting it close to the plant you want to water essential.

But for a soaker hose to be effective in those two ways requires getting quality material, and that can be difficult. Much soaker hose is stiff, decays in a season and cracks. The holes become enlarged, causing too much water to emerge from one area, reducing the effectiveness everywhere else at the same time.

Good material will also be flexible, reducing cracking and making it easier to get around those tight bends in the garden. That will allow you to accommodate any design you have. Winding the soaker hose around plants is simple, and clamping it with plastic or metal tines into the ground is easy.

Even so, a good garden hose is helpful. It's difficult to cover every single area you may want to, and there are always those potted plants or trees you want to water with a hose. A good garden hose is one that won't kink no matter how much you twist it or retrace your steps. Kinking is the number one killer of hoses.

Once that happens, the water flow is drastically reduced. Even worse, after you've unkinked it to resume flow, a cheap hose will stay bent and eventually crack. Getting a hose made in layers, with the interior liner made of flexible mesh, will prevent that. The hose will last for years and during that time it will operate conveniently.

The same criteria are useful for a lawn hose, in this case even more critically. A lawn hose is a flat, rubberized plastic hose with holes to spout water along a needed area. Where you don't have automatic lawn sprinklers, they're a big labor savor. You don't have to stand for 15 minutes and wave a garden hose over the area. Just set it up, turn it on and come back later.

But spooling it up, putting it in place and moving it around all cause stress on the hose. If it kinks, flow is reduced. Long before they should, cracks will appear requiring hose replacement. One made of good material, with an inner liner of flat, flexible mesh, will make for a lawn hose that can last for several years.

Be prepared to spend a little more to get quality hoses. The extra investment will pay for itself in a year, since the alternative is to replace them regularly. They're also more difficult to place and to spool up, since cheap material is inflexible. A few extra dollars will save you money and time. -the Ultimate Garden Center


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