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Garden & Soaker Hose Winter Preparation: How-Tos & Tips

During the spring and summer, your garden and soaker hoses are your best friends. Unwind the garden hose on a daily basis, and your flowers and vegetables have an instant shower. However, winter is a different story. It's time to put away those warm-weather tools until next year. Get to know the basics about garden hose winter preparation. You'll preserve these tools for many seasons as a result.

Disconnect and Drain the Garden Hose

Garden hoses that remain attached to the spigot will create problems. The connection and trapped water freeze, which ultimately damages your home's plumbing. Garden hose winter storage tips start with a simple disconnect.

Walk around the home, and find every hose attached to a spigot. Most households only have one hose, but you may have multiple ones. Twist the coupling off at the spigot. Drain the entire hose by holding one section upright and walking down its length. Gravity pulls the water from the hose with this strategy.

Proper Coiling and Storage

If you leave a garden hose outside for winter, it will be damaged in the spring. The extreme cold causes the internal lining to break. With a drained hose in your hand, carefully coil it into a three-foot diameter. Don't coil it into a tighter configuration, however. Improper coiling leads to breaks in the hose as well. This fact is true even when you store it in a safe location.

Secure the coil with a tie wrap if desired. Place the hose in a shed, garage or other storage area. It should be dry and free from any weathering elements until the spring.

Don't Forget the Fittings

Some residents discover that their garden hoses are still damaged after going through these drainage and storage tips. Pests might find your hose over the winter. They burrow and nest in the lining. The hose ends up with tiny holes and perforations that cannot be mended.

Avoid this scenario by purchasing a couple fittings. In essence, these parts are merely end caps for the hose couplings. Twist the fittings onto the couplings so that the hose's interior is cut off from any pests. You end up preserving the hose until spring. Simply remember to dry the hose before adding the fittings. Trapped moisture will only breed mildew and other problems.

Dealing With Forgotten Connections

If you forgot to disconnect your hose in the winter, it will impact the home and garden accessory. Deal with the connection as soon as you remember it. With cold temperatures outside, it may be difficult to twist the coupling off of the spigot. Fill a bucket with warm water. Slowly empty it onto the coupling. This warmth should be just enough temperature to loosen the connection and any ice within the coupling.

When you forget the connected hose for the entire season, it's probably done some damage to the home's plumbing. Ask a professional to check the pipes at the connection. Your hose will probably require a replacement as well.

The Soaker-Hose Dilemma

Some people might apply garden-hose care to soaker hoses, but this strategy isn't sound. Soaker hoses have an entirely different relationship with winter. Winterize soaker hoses by leaving them in place. They should be buried or covered by soil or mulch. These materials act as insulators against the cold.

In addition, soaker hoses have holes all along their lengths. Any moisture remaining in the hoses will simply seep out without any expansion and contraction problems.

Running the Water One Last Time

There are a few steps that you can take for soaker hose winter care, however. Reduce the chances of debris or ice damaging the hose by running water through it one last time. Give the hose enough pressure so that it readily seeps without expanding it too much. Run the water for a few minutes. Shut off the water, and watch the moisture levels. The water should run entirely from the hose for the best winterization.

Disconnecting the Soaker Hose From the Source

After running the water, remove the hose coupling from its spigot. Bury the hose end into the ground. This strategy preserves the coupling until spring. There's no reason to add fittings to the hose either. Because the hose has so many holes, any pests that do enter it will have enough space to move in and out of the length without damaging the lining. Mark the hose ends with rocks or other indicators so you can find them after winter.

Considering a Landscaping Change

Can soaker hoses be left out over the winter? The answer is most definitely yes, but consider a different scenario. You plan to completely change the landscape in the spring. Removing soil, sod and gardens is part of the plan. Pull the soaker hoses from the ground in the fall when you're going to rearrange them in the spring. Although the hoses won't be damaged during the winter, the ground may be difficult to cultivate in the spring as you start the project. Removing the soaker hoses now gives your project a head start. Arrange them almost immediately when the spring season begins.

Always think of your yard as an extension of the home. Take care of it as you would the carpet or furniture. Neglected hoses in the yard will break down over time. They could possibly impact your home's plumbing as well. Be proactive about how to store soaker hoses and garden accessories. The spring will arrive with no problems in your gardening shed.