Real Gardeners Use Hoses, Not Sprinklers

garden hoseIf you want to develop a real understanding of your plants, consider watering them up close with a hose. Many gardeners are fed up with sprinklers since they water too much or too little, provide inadequate coverage, or overshoot the mark and water sidewalk, street, wall and fence as much as the garden.
Horticulturally speaking, the major problem with sprinklers, especially when activated by a programmed time clock, is that they encourage remote control gardening and put distance between you and your plants.
Each time you water with a hose, you cannot help but bend down and take an extra moment to observe each plant.
This continual observation will not only develop a keen sense of when to water but a knowledge of how much sun or shade each species requires to grow its best. You will also notice the insect pests and diseases that might plague a particular plant and take note of how plants respond to the various types of fertilizers that you apply.
I know a veteran gardener who abandoned his sprinkler system about the time he gave up his lawn. “If I can’t water it with a hose, it’s not worth growing,” he recently told me. “When I water with a hose,” he continued, “most of my plants receive a fraction of the water they would get if I had to rely on sprinklers to irrigate them.”
Hoses are available in diameters ranging from half an inch to one inch. I find the three-quarter diameter most satisfying since the stream of water emitted is strong enough so that you do not have to spend all day watering without being so powerful that you end up splashing and puddling your way through the garden. An advantage of three-quarter hoses is the ability to utilize hose-end attachments, which have a matching three-quarter inch diameter female connection, with them.
It is generally a good idea to use a hose-end attachment when watering since it gives you more control over the flow of water from the hose. Select from shower head water wands, adjustable and Fogg-It nozzles and spray guns. Hose-end sprayers, through which fertilizers and other chemicals are applied, also are made for three-quarter inch hoses.
Hoses are made of vinyl, rubber or a combination of the two. Vinyl is lighter than rubber but also kinks more easily. The classic vinyl (actually PVC or polyvinyl chloride) hose is dark green in color. It is the least expensive hose but has the least durability. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for with hoses in terms of their longevity as the more expensive hoses last the longest.
The Gilmour Flexogen hose is touted as “the last hose you will ever buy” and carries a life time warranty. It has a collar so that it does not kink next to the hose bib (water faucet). It is soft and foamy and reasonably light weight.
Soaker hoses, made of recycled tires, have tiny holes in them from which water seeps into the earth. These are effective in new plantings of California natives and other drought tolerant species.

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