Garden Hoses - July 7, 1999
Jeff Schalau, County Director, Agent, Agriculture & Natural Resources
Arizona Cooperative Extension, Yavapai County
This column is a departure from the usual insect/disease/fertilizer topics (mostly fertilizer) I usually write. It's about garden hoses. You probably think selecting the right garden hose is about as exciting as watching paint dry. You're right, but a good quality hose that is well suited for your specific purposes can also make most gardening jobs easier. Think about it: unless you have an automated irrigation system, you probably use your hose more than most of the tools you buy.
Garden hoses vary in diameter, length, composition/construction, and price. Commonly available diameters are 2 , 5/8, and 3/4 inches. As diameter increases, the hose moves a greater volume of water per unit of time. Knowing the length of hose needed is where you can save money and make life easier. If the hose just needs to reach short distances, then don't buy the 75 or 100 foot monsters. Conversely, if you have a large area, a longer hose makes sense. Longer hoses can be unruly and create trip hazards. If you have multiple hose needs, then buy two medium length hoses. You can always put two hoses together to make a longer one.
The construction of the hose determines it's flexibility, temperature tolerance, durability, and UV resistance. The more expensive hoses have more plies, greater durability, and consequently a longer life span. The hardware on the hose ends also varies. Some hoses come equipped with a kink prevention collar. I prefer the heavier gauge brass hose ends. The thinner gauge ends can be bent out of shape during rough handling making it difficult to attach nozzles, sprinklers, and other hoses. If this happens, don't throw the hose away. Go to the hardware store and buy replacement ends. These are often better than the originals.
As far as the hose materials go, the inexpensive, thin green hoses kink easily and become stiffer with time. The highest quality hose is six-ply, kink-free, and lifetime guaranteed. Industrial hoses are all rubber with double-spiral cord reinforcement. Others come flattened so that they can be rolled more easily onto a reel. Boat and camper hoses are food-grade. These have an FDA-approved core. Remember how rubbery the water tasted the last time you drank from that regular old garden hose.
Many hoses contain recycled materials: primarily used tires and recycled plastics. The EPA has guidelines specifying the amounts of these materials that should be used in hose manufacture. The inexpensive black soaker hoses are made from recycled materials. These leaky devices are excellent for watering gardens and landscape plants that require only intermittent water. They release small quantities of water over a long period for good infiltration. Some folks prefer the flat, sprinkler-type hoses for use in long narrow beds. To me, these put too much water up into the air where in can be evaporated.
There is an endless litany of gadgets that go with hoses. For neatniks, there are hose reels, racks, and carts to keep those hoses organized and out of the way. Quick disconnect devices allow easy switching between hose end nozzles, sprinklers, and additional hoses. Shut off valves allow switching of implements without walking back all the way to the spigot. These are nice for conserving water but make sure you remember to turn the faucet off when done working. AY@ connectors let you attach two hoses to one faucet. There is more to it, but I sense that all you readers just remembered a new coat of paint the needs watching. However, I am certain that every reader will view their hose in a different light from now on and carefully consider a new addition to their garden hose collection.
The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension has publications and information on gardening and landscaping. If you have other gardening questions, call the Master Gardener line in the Cottonwood office at 646-9113 or E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include your address and phone number.
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