Spring is coming to the Prairieland Groundwater Conservation District which includes Ellis, Hill, Johnson, and Somervell counties, and one of the tasks area homeowners will pick back up as the weather gets warmer is yard maintenance. To make that chore a little easier, most of us keep the necessary tools on hand. Now, while the weather is cooler, and before they’re needed, is the time to give those tools a good examination to make sure they’re as ready for action as you are!
One tool that many overlook is the garden hose. Using the right garden hose in good condition will not only get your watering job done, but will prevent water waste, and save you money on your water bill.
It is estimated that a good garden hose should last from 5 and 10 years which is a pretty broad range. Like most anything, that estimate is affected by age, use, and construction (not a lot of maintenance is involved with a hose other than draining and storing for winter).
Check the hose’s body for cracks and holes and the couplings at either end. Depending on what you find and your skills and interests, you may not need to replace the whole hose. There are instructions and videos galore on the internet for making your own repairs. Repair kits are even available at your local hardware store.
However, if you need a new hose, there are a couple of considerations before you buy.
1) What are you going to use it for? – The most common uses that come to mind are for watering a lawn, irrigating a flower bed or vegetable garden, or for keeping the ground around a home foundation watered during the high heat of the summer when the ground is really, really dry.
Your uses or needs should determine the type or style of garden hose you select. Hooking up to a movable sprinkler? You’re going to need a traditional hose with a round profile. Irrigating a garden or flower bed, you may want to consider a soaker hose. A soaker hose is a hose that allows water to slowly leak through its walls giving the ground around it time to fully soak up the moisture. Soaker hoses are recommended, too, because they can reduce water waste. Because the water drops are not being hurled into the air to reach their target, less is subject to evaporation or being blown away.
You will also encounter, or are familiar with, flat hoses however, these seem to have fallen out of favor with many gardeners for a couple of reasons. One, to use the thing, you’ve got to roll out the whole hose whether you’ve got that large of an area to water or not. They can be heavy and cumbersome, and there is some water waste as drops are thrown into the air where they evaporate.
2) Length – Hoses typically come in multiples of 25 feet. Rather than paying for more hose that you need (or will want to move around), measure before you go to the store. If you need a hose to use in multiple areas of your yard, determine the distance to the farther place in the yard where it will be used. Select a hose just over that length.
3) Diameter – Who knew? Hoses come in three common diameters on the inside: ¾-inch, 5/8-inch, and ½-inch. (A quick research trip to the local hardware store revealed the majority to be of 5/8-inch variety.)
The larger the diameter, the more water will come out at one time. If the weight of the hose could be an issue for you – say you’re using your hose to hand water plants and hanging baskets on your patio, the smaller, ½ inch hose may be your best bet.
4) Material – The big question here is rubber vs. vinyl. Rubber is said to be more durable but is heavier and pricier. Vinyl hoses are cheaper and much lighter, but they kink easier.
Another important material to consider it that of the couplings or fittings at either end. Many are made of brass or are chrome-plated, but there are plastic ones available as well. General consensus is to avoid the plastic; they break. As for the rest, check for durability of the metal. If you accidentally step on the hose coupling as it lays in the yard, is it going to bend and become misshapen? Even if it stays attached to the whatever it was connected to, a misshapen coupling will allow for water leakage and water waste. Couplings can freeze up sometimes so consider getting a hose with octagonal-shaped couplings, so you can use a wrench to loosen things up if the need arises.
Your yard should be a place of peace and enjoyment, and proper preparation may very well be the key to attaining that. Taking a little time now, in advance of the lawn maintenance season, will cut down on frustration and wasted time when the weather is beautiful, and you’d rather be out enjoying your yard and not sweating over it.
For more information about low maintenance home landscaping and water conservation, visit the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District website at www.prairielandsgcd.org.