Usefult tips, expert advice and additional information on water hoses, irrigation and general gardening topics.
6 Must-Have Tools for the Home Gardener
Few things are more satisfying than growing your own vegetables. Gardening is much more than a hobby for many people; it is a way of marking the seasons of the year and the ebb and flow of nature. Those who are passionate about growing know there are some essential gardening tools that belong in every shed. Here are six must-have tools for the home gardener.
Various Garden Hoes
The garden hoe has long been a staple of basic gardening tools. The thing is, there are several different types of hoes. All of them are meant to solve specific problems. A single-blade traditional hoe is great for leveling the ground, moving soil around the base of your plants and performing other basic tasks. You may want to opt for a different design to tackle tougher projects.
The fork hoe is one that has tines instead of a blade. These tines are situated at right angles to the handle. This makes it much easier to dig. Fork hoes are great for breaking up soil before you plant. An oscillating hoe is also a useful addition. It has a swivel head that is useful for getting into tight spots.
The wheelbarrow needs no introduction. It is the most handy way to move tools, potting soil and other gardening items. Some wheelbarrows are made from hard plastic and others are made from galvanized steel. The plastic ones can be a little bit lighter and easier to handle, but steel is unmatched for durability. Either way, you must include a wheelbarrow in your assortment of tools used for gardening.
You can even get water transport bags if you need to move water with your wheelbarrow. Always try them out before you buy. The handle length is an important consideration depending on your own height. You also want to look for wheelbarrows that have knobby tires instead of smooth ones. This comes in very handy when you are moving through deep soil.
No list of tools for gardening is complete without the inclusion of garden hoses. The experience of most gardeners has led them to choose a
rubber garden hose. These hoses offer superior durability, and some of them are very light.
You want to choose a garden hose that has features such as crush-proof couplings. It is also useful to have no-kink technology, which prevents those troublesome kinks at the spigot. The best PVC or rubber garden hose will also be one that is lead-free with a burst strength of at least 400 psi. About 50' in length will work for most situations, but you can easily find longer hoses or couple them together for maximum coverage.
Rakes are one of the most overlooked essential gardening tools. They are useful for keeping your rows neat and clean, and they can also come in handy for removing debris around the base of plants.
The key thing to remember when choosing a rake is to opt for the right one. You don't want a large fan-style rake with flimsy tines or a plastic rake for working in the garden. You need one that has larger tines and strong construction. This will make it very easy for you to make your way down the garden rows and pull soil from the center back to the base of the plants.
Cultivators are essential tools for gardening, but some of them have been replaced by fork hoes and other implements. A cultivator is great for removing pesky weeds, and it also helps to aerate the soil around plants. These items have a long handle that ends in a series of four or five tines.
When using a cultivator, you must remember to be gentle. Penetrating the ground too far can damage the root systems of your plants. It's a precision tool, and that may be why some gardeners have overlooked it in recent years. When used properly, however, it is a valuable addition to your assortment of gardening implements.
Digging spades are the best tool around for setting plants. They can be easily handled, are inexpensive and work very well at breaking up soil. There are handheld spades for smaller jobs, but you will probably want to go with a larger spade for most garden tasks. Using a larger spade will mean you aren't doing a lot of bending or sitting.
This gardening tools list should meet most of your needs. The pleasure of gardening increases when you have the proper tools for the job.
Best Garden Hoses: Our Recommendations
So, it's time to get a new water hose for your outdoor projects. The kind of hose you'll want to purchase depends upon your specific needs. We've compiled a list of the best garden hoses in a number of categories. These best-rated garden hose options will give you superior performance throughout the gardening season.
Best Rubber Garden Hose
Rubber has long been considered one of the best materials for garden hoses. The
MAXLite™ 50' 5/8" Premium Black Rubber+™ Hose is the cream of the crop. It boasts trademarked technology and advanced pliability. This all-rubber garden hose can be used for the toughest home projects, and it is even used commercially by service professionals.
When it comes to using rubber hoses, their durability and other outstanding features come at the expense of carrying more weight around the watering area. This is not the case with the MAXLite™ Premium Black Rubber+™ hose. On average, it is 40% lighter and boasts similar performance characteristics.
One of the great things about this hose is its water temperature range. Water temperatures of -40° F to 165° F are not a problem. It also has strong aircraft-grade couplings that are made of aluminum and virtually impossible to crush. The 400 PSI burst strength is just one more reason we believe this is the best rubber hose.
Best Garden Hose for Hot Water
MAXLite™ 50' 5/8" Hot Water Rubber+™ Hose was made for those jobs that require the use of hot water. This hot water rubber hose features Hose Armour patented technology that will keep your hose from kinking near the spigot. Anyone who has ever tried to remove a kink from a hose pumping hot water will understand how beneficial that is. The hose is 50' long and has crushproof couplings on each end that resist accidental damage.
This is a commercial hose that has about two times the strength of conventional hoses. Yet, for all its strength, the hose is 40 percent lighter than its competitors. It has a 5/8" diameter and a burst strength of 400 PSI, more than enough to handle everything from pressure washing to heavy clean-up jobs.
Best Heavy-Duty Garden Hose
Those who are looking for the best commercial water hose will love the
Element ContractorFARM 100' 3/4" Water Hose. It is specifically made for industrial applications, but the homeowner can benefit as well from this durable heavy-duty hose. It has a 3/4" diameter for maximum water volume, and it is 100' long. The extra-large aluminum couplings are virtually indestructible, and the hose has an impressive 500 PSI burst strength.
This is a farm-grade hose that is right at home tackling a variety of chores. Contractors use it to pressure wash on a job site, and farmers use it to clean up tractor implements after a hard day in the field. It's equally suited to cleaning off driveways and pressure washing the car. The limited lifetime warranty is a plus, too, and this could be the last brand of heavy-duty hose that you'll ever want to buy.
Best No-Kink Garden Hose
Few things are more frustrating than a garden hose that kinks. The
Element MaxFLEX 50' 5/8" Garden Hose claims our recommendation for best kink-free garden hose thanks to its proprietary Lay Flat Technology. The construction of the hose is what allows it to remain free of kinks and snap back into shape. It's made from an exclusive co-polymer that allows it to retain its shape when filled with water, and save space when empty. This material has an elasticity that increases flexibility while making the hose 30 percent lighter than other kink-free hoses.
Being named the best flexible hose also demands ease of use. The 50' length gives you plenty of room to reach large portions of your garden, and a 5/8" diameter provides respectable water flow. These hoses are also very resistant to the weather. They can handle extremes in temperature without cracking.
Best Lightweight Garden Hose
Gardening is a hobby that everyone should be able to enjoy regardless of their age or physical ability. The
Element ULTRALite 50' 1/2" garden hose is the best lightweight water hose that we have tested. This compact hose is light enough that it can be managed by everyone from young children to older adults. It lays flat when not in use, and it takes up very little room on a reel. Don't let its light weight and ease of use fool you, though. The hose can still deliver a burst strength of 400 PSI.
Element has utilized patented technology to prevent this hose from kinking, and it has a high burst protection. The aircraft-grade couplings on the hose help to prevent damage, and the hose meets the Safe Drinking Water Act lead-free standards. If you can only own one hose for working around the home, this is a great choice.
Garden Hose Storage - Tips and Tricks for the Everyday Gardener
Properly storing your hose is one of the easiest ways to ensure you get the longest possible lifetime out of it. For avid gardeners who have invested in a high-quality, high-performance hose, storage is particularly important to make sure your purchase delivers the results that it promised (and you don’t have to spend money on a new one if it doesn’t). Proper storage, paired with other good practice hose care techniques, can extend your hose’s life far past just one season of gardening. The great news is that storing your hose is far easier than you might think; you might even have the perfect storage vessel sitting around your house. If not, purchasing a hose reel is a great investment that will increase your gardening productivity and save you money over time on hose replacements/repairs.
Tips & Tricks for Hose Storage
Selecting a hose reel: Hose reels are unanimously one of the best mechanisms for storing your hose. They make it easy and quick to roll up your hose after use, and they minimize the occurrence of hose winding faux pas such as kinks and tangles.
When selecting a hose reel, there are several different things to consider. You’ll want to keep in mind your hose length, what types of functionality you are looking for and budget (hose reels can get to be expensive). And while pricing depends on a variety of different factors, including material, brand and additional functionalities, generally hose reels types follow the pattern of price and utility below.
In the graphic above, we have detailed the main types of hose reels you’ll find. Any hose reel can be a
decorative hose reel; however, we traditionally see specifically decorative hose reels being less expensive, but also lower quality. Most decorative hose reels are mounted. Hideaway or box reels have similar functionality as decorative hose reels in that their primary advantage is appearance, but they can be difficult to use as well. They do, however, protect your hose from the elements, which can extend its life. Retractable hose reels also protect hoses from the elements in addition to being much more convenient to put away; however, retractable hoses are often cheaper and prone to breaking. Stationary or mounted hose reels typically refer to higher-quality reels than “decorative” or “retractable” hose reels. As their name suggests, they are mounted to a post or a wall and cannot be moved. Stationary hose reels are cheaper than the alternative, cart reels; however, the drawback is not being able to reach all corners of your garden. If you are planning on mounting your hose reel, you should plan to have it around four feet off the ground for average height, though it comes down to personal preference at the end of the day. Make sure to mount close enough to a water source that your leader hose will reach it. If you have a small garden or particularly long hose, a stationary reel might be a good option. On the top of the list in terms of pricing and functionality is the hose reel cart. The cart hose reel is more expensive than stationary because of the additional equipment needed (wheels). However, the added functionality is portability, which is helpful for gardens with a large surface area. Another helpful aspect of cart hose reels is that they can be moved out of the sun/elements when not in use.
Using a hose reel leader hose: Before diving into why you need a leader hose, let’s clarify what exactly a leader hose is. A leader hose is a shorter than average segment of hose that is designed to act as an extension when necessary. Leader hoses are helpful when trying to attach hoses to hard-to-reach spigots or attaching your hose reel to a water supply. We recommend purchasing universal leader hoses in order to avoid having to worry about incompatible couplings. Attach your leader hose to your hose reel by securing the compatible side to the spigot, and then the other side to the designated location on your hose reel.
Winding and unwinding: Winding your hose on a hose reel is pretty easy: Simply roll your hose loosely around the reel, going slowly enough to allow any excess water to drain out of your hose. If you are using another storage technique, we recommend coiling your hose in 3-foot loops around your arm, still slowly enough to allow water to drain, and then place into a garden hose holder. Take care when unwinding your hose for use; rather than tugging at your hose from afar, gently undo it loop by loop to ensure kinks do not develop.
DIY Hose Storage
DIY Hose Reels: A homemade hose reel won’t necessarily have the same capabilities of a store-bought reel, but for a lot of gardeners, it still does the trick. Using household or junkyard items, you can easily create the perfect form to wind your hose around.
- Wooden post: Create a hose stand reel using a wooden post by nailing in a curved piece of metal with a lip to ensure your hose doesn’t fall off
- Metal pail: Use an old metal pail and secure the bottom to a wooden post. Bonus points for this method because the inside of the pail acts as a storage unit for gardening tools.
- Tire rim: Calling all car enthusiasts: have any old tire rims? Secure to a wall or post and wrap your hose around for a quick-fix hose reel.
DIY Hose Holder: One of the main benefits of a hose container in place of a reel is the protection from the elements. They require a bit more work from you when putting your hose away, but the longevity it can give your hose is definitely worth it.
- Large metal pail: If you have a large enough metal pail to fit your three-foot looped hose, this is an easy option for hose storage. Note that if your pail doesn’t have a lid, we suggest moving it under cover when the hose is not in use.
- Flower pot: It’s likely that the avid gardener has a few leftover pots from plants that have passed away, and if they’re large enough, they can be repurposed as decorative hose holders. Again, keep in mind that this type of storage will likely not have a lid, so keep in a garage or under cover.
Proper storage is one of the best ways to make sure your hose maintains its health for a long time. Keep in mind that
storage recommendations differ as winter rolls around, and adjustments will likely need to be made. For more tips on taking care of your hose, click here.
Garden Watering Made Easy with These Top Tips
Keeping your garden in top shape involves watering plants. Proper watering is more efficient and effective, and it's also environmentally responsible. Before you grab the hose and go, check out these tips that will help you water like a pro.
The Best Time To Water a Garden
In most cases, a successful plan for your garden involves early morning watering. This doesn't mean you have to get cracking before dawn, but you should aim to water while the sun is still low in the sky.
Sunlight is weakest in the morning hours. This means the ground is cooler. Water will do a better job of reaching the root system of your plants without quick evaporation. You'll also give foliage a chance to dry before the evening hours set in. These things create healthy, vibrant plants.
Watering at night is a bad idea. The moisture on foliage is a breeding ground for fungus, and it can also attract pests. Many plant diseases can be prevented by watering early in the day.
How Often Should You Water Plants?
Many gardeners make the mistake of too much watering. There seems to be a general misconception that plants can never have too much moisture. The reality is that watering too much can create harmful scenarios that include mold and fungus.
The easy answer here is to water only when necessary. The hard part can be determining how much water your plants require. A good rule of thumb is to water when more than 1" of the surrounding soil is dry. Many outdoor plants are going to require some daily watering to maintain the correct moisture. In climates where the temperature exceeds 85 degrees during the day, more frequent watering will be required.
You want to make sure the soil around your plants has a little time to dry. The drying period between watering is what promotes the growth of plant roots. Think of it like building muscle for adults. There has to be a period of recovery for growth to occur.
Eliminate the Automatic Sprinkler in Favor of Hoses
Sprinklers are convenient. The problem is that they can become too convenient for the gardener. Using a hose will give you more control over the amount of water your garden receives. You will also be able to monitor and observe the health of your garden when you use a hose.
Using a hose doesn't necessarily mean you have to stand there with one in hand. There are many fine soaker hoses available. Just place them where watering is required and you'll get a nice, even distribution of water.
What Is the Best Way To Water Plants?
How you water makes a huge difference in the health of your garden. The important thing to remember is to focus on the roots instead of the foliage. You need to be getting water to the area where it matters most.
Watering the uppermost portion and foliage of a plant confers minimal benefit. Too much water on foliage can even lead to plant health issues. If you are keeping the soil around the plant moist, the leaves will be fine.
Here's where a good mulch comes in. Watering plants is more effective when you mulch. The mulch you choose helps to spread the water evenly, and it creates a nice, slow disbursement to the root system.
When you learn how to water plants correctly, keeping your garden in top shape becomes a joy. Doing it right saves both time and money, and it cuts back on the physical labor of gardening.
Guide to Gardening During a Texas Winter
Most homeowners or outdoor enthusiasts have, at some point in their lives, taken on the daunting task of bringing new life into their garden. These folks know that gardening is a labor of love, and they likely also know how disheartening it can be when external factors, like weather, cause your hard work to go to waste. The good news for our Texas residents out there is that Texas winters can be reasonably moderate. Any good Texan knows that every winter will bring the occasional freeze, but for the most part, temperatures will be cold yet tolerable (with the exception of the northernmost Texas cities located close to and inside of the panhandle). However, there’s still a sizable difference in temperature between a Texas spring or summer and a Texas winter, and it’s important to take the necessary precautions to make sure your beloved garden is able to survive until the next season, either while growing or dormant. For the most avid gardening enthusiasts, one season of flowers and vegetables just isn’t enough. The good news is that there are plenty of plants that thrive in colder temperatures. Below you’ll find our top tips for Texas residents on how to “winterize” your garden in Texas and satisfy your winter gardening cravings.
Preparing Your Garden
The first thing that any avid Texas gardener should consider as colder temperatures start to roll around is how to ensure that last season’s garden nursing doesn’t go to waste.
Protect your garden from pests
Ensuring that you have a healthy garden before winter begins is especially important if you plan on minimal garden maintenance during the winter months. In Texas, you’ll start to get some serious (by Texas standards) cold weather toward the end of November. These cold fronts typically last until the end of February. Plan to do an invasive weed-picking overhaul around late October to make sure that your garden is clean before the temperature drops past a comfortable outdoor temperature. Your pre-winter garden cleanup should also include the removal of any dead plant debris or stalks, as these can be a breeding ground for harmful diseases and other pests. If you have plants that you know are finishing annuals, remove them at the start of winter for a clean slate of soil when spring rolls around.
Prepare the beds
Winter is a great time to let nutrients really soak into the ground so that when prime gardening time rolls around during the spring, your soil is healthy and nutrient-rich from months of decomposition. During early November, before the winter rains start, add around 3 inches of compost to your beds. Over time, the compost will decompose into crucial nutrients in the soil, making springtime gardening a breeze. In northern Texas, you may also want to consider adding a thick layer of mulch to your garden to prevent freezing and thawing cycles. However, most of central and southern Texas won’t experience steady freezing temperatures throughout the winter that would make it worthwhile to try to keep the garden frozen with mulch. However, in the drier areas of Texas, mulching your garden can help to keep moisture in the soil. If you’re expecting a dry winter, mulching your gardens at the beginning of the winter will be beneficial.
Freezing temperature planning
In Texas, below-freezing temperatures are spread out throughout the wintertime. You might experience your first isolated freeze toward the middle of November. Freezes will become more frequent as the winter progresses; however, they are rarely constant. It’s a good idea to have a plan in place for when freezes do come to make sure that your perennials (plants that survive winter) are protected for re-blooming in the spring. Since freezes are quite sporadic during a Texas winter, it’s feasible for you to pull out all the stops when you hear news of a freezing cold front. Be prepared to take the following actions when a freeze is imminent:
- Cover shrubs and other tender plants with some sort of fabric (burlap, sheets, etc.). Do not use plastic to cover your plants.
- If high winds are expected, plan to cover evergreen plants as well.
- Cut back perennials to a few inches above where the stem meets the plant’s crown at soil level (with the exception of hardier perennials, which should be left unpruned).
What and When To Plant
So you’ve set your garden up to be successful when springtime comes, but what about the gardeners who just can’t wait until spring for another gardening season? Luckily, moderate Texas winters (hardiness zones 7, 8 and 9) are great for gardening with the right plants.
What to plant
You can find these these winter vegetables in Texas thriving when the temperature drops:
- Greens (arugula, spinach, collards, lettuce, kale, etc.)
- Brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, etc.)
- Legumes (peas, beans)
- Root vegetables (carrots, beets, radishes, onions)
Some favorite Texas flowers that bloom in winter include the following
When to plant
- Dianthus (best for cooler north Texas temperatures)
- Sweet Alyssum (best for southern Texas with minimal frost)
For winter vegetables in Texas, planting season starts anywhere between late summer and the end of fall. Our recommendation is to plan your planting days for the middle of fall, when you’ll reap the benefits of cold temperatures at night but temperatures will be moderate enough during the day to be enjoyable. The closer you get to cold days, the better luck you’ll have against diseases and pests, which become more dormant during colder temperatures. If you’d like to plant a second crop during winter, we suggest aiming for January or early February.
Since Texas is a big state, you’ll have the most success planting for the temperatures that are most specific to your region. For detailed dates on planting times for each vegetable, check out A&M’s chart on Texas regional planting
How To Water During Winter in Texas
Watering your garden
There are several tips to keep in mind when watering your garden during the winter. You’ll want to water your plants once or twice a month unless Texas is experiencing a particularly dry winter. Your plants are likely to absorb more water during the earlier hours of the day; however, try to make sure that the temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit. For most days, this shouldn’t be an issue in Texas, but every once in a while, you’ll get a cold snap during which temperatures dip below normal. Make sure to water both winter plants as well as perennials that might be dormant, as their roots will still need water to stay alive until spring. Only water until the soil of your garden is moist, and try to avoid watering when you are expecting a freeze!
Watering your lawn
Though it may be tempting, make sure to remain on a consistent watering schedule until temperatures drop below freezing. You can typically expect this to happen during some point in November, so plan to continue with your regular watering schedule until the days start to get significantly shorter. Truly frozen lawns aren’t a huge concern in Texas, as it typically doesn’t stay below freezing for more than a night or two. You should plan to stay on a fairly consistent watering schedule when you are experiencing a dry winter. Barring frozen soil, we recommend watering your lawn every two to three weeks for 15 to 20 minutes during the winter months. It’s especially important to water your lawn earlier during the day in the winter so that it has adequate time to dry before the evening rolls around. For ease of watering your lawn during the cold winter months, we recommend using a sprinkler system that you can simply turn on in the morning and turn off 15 minutes later, minimizing time spent outside in the chilly weather. Check out our favorite Element sprinkler system below.
Guide to Organic Gardening in 2020
There are many different reasons that you might find yourself bringing an organic lifestyle into your garden. For some, the allure of organic gardening stems from the desire to promote a healthy environment and further connect with nature. For others, these changes to your gardening habits are influenced by the potential negative effects of using unnatural substances on the food that you might be growing. In general, regardless of your initial motivations, organic gardening can have a vast number of positive effects in both your life and in the environment if you’re willing to put in the extra work to learn the ins and outs and set up a new gardening routine. In order to dive into the “how” and our step-by-step guide to start organic gardening, we must first dissect the “what”: What is organic gardening?
Defining Organic Gardening
Oxford Dictionary classifies organic in relation to food or farming as production without the use of chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides or artificial agents. It’s worth noting, however, that without further explanation, this definition must be taken with a grain of salt when considering what organic gardening looks like in 2020. Breaking this definition down, we must consider that organic and inorganic substances alike are chemical in nature, based on the scientific rather than colloquial definition of chemical and chemistry. In addition, organic gardeners do in fact use substances that act as fertilizers or pesticides. The important aspect here, however, is that the substances used are naturally created and pose no threat to the environment.
The two pillars of modern organic gardening are promoting a healthy environment and connecting with the earth in order to learn its patterns and preferences when it comes to gardening. This starts in the soil, which is the foundation of all gardening. Nurturing the soil in ways that are inspired by natural systems and methods is the bottom line of organic gardening, and this, by association, denounces the use of anything that could harm the environment - beyond just your garden - including man-made and toxic chemical additives that would not otherwise be used in nature’s processes.
Implementing Organic Gardening in Your Routine
While transitioning to organic gardening can be a personal process that involves the gardener’s unique interactions and experiences with their own garden, soil and resources, there are a few guidelines/tips to keep in mind that will assist you in making a seamless switch.
Preparing Your Soil
What you’ll need: a plot of land with eight to 10 hours of sunlight and good drainage, organic compost (homemade or purchased) or organically enhanced soil (purchased), newspaper and hay/straw/piles of dead leaves
If you're just starting off with gardening, make sure to pick a plot of land that receives full sunlight and allows water to easily drain rather than pooling on top of the land. This doesn’t have to be a large plot; 4 feet in length and width will do. At this point, you can use a sharp spade cut into the sod to expose the soil underneath and a pitchfork to break up any clumps, or prepare the soil by layering newspaper, hay and dead leaves on top of it early in the season and allowing those nutrients to decompose into your garden.
If you are an avid gardener transitioning to organic, you might consider starting fresh in a new plot in order to prevent the spread of any diseases or infestations that your current garden might carry. If you’re not quite ready to make that move, you can prepare the soil in your current garden using the above method of layering nutrients, or skip straight ahead to working compost into your soil.
Once your plot is chosen and prepared, you can begin the process of feeding and nurturing your soil. One of the most common ways that organic gardeners begin this process is by using homemade or pre-purchased compost. Compost gets broken down by microorganisms in the soil, turning it into a sort of natural fertilizer.
Protecting Your Plants
What you’ll need: mulch from native trees (clippings, leave, etc.), companion plants (see table below for list)
The two greatest threats to your organic garden are likely to be weeds and pests. Weeds are the easier of the two to control. By heavily applying mulch at the beginning of and throughout your gardening season, you can deprive weeds of sunlight and make it easier to pull them if they do manage to push through your heavy layer of mulch. An added benefit of mulch is that it helps preserve the water in the soil, allowing it to nourish your garden’s roots for longer.
Pests and insects can be a bigger challenge to conquer when it comes to organic gardening. You’ll want to make sure that you can limit their survival in your garden without causing damage to any non harmful creatures or the environment at large. The best way to do this is by partaking in companion planting. There are certain species of plants that are known to deter different species of insects, as demonstrated in the table below. Strategically planting these species, depending on the main pests in your area, can be a huge help in reducing the instances of pest infestation in your garden. It’s always a good idea as well to plant more than you are expecting to need in order to be prepared for infestations that do make it past your companion planting guard system.
Companion Plants Index
White flies, cabbage loopers, aphids, beetles, squash bugs
Aphids, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, squash bugs, tomato hornworms
Moths, fleas, flies, mosquitos
Whiteflies, cabbage loopers, cabbage maggots, corn earworms, tomato hornworms
Aphids, squash bugs, spider mites, cabbage loopers, tomato hornworms
Aphids, slugs, snails
Allium (chives, onions, leeks, shallots)
Slugs, aphids, carrot flies, cabbage worms
Roaches, ants, japanese beetles, ticks, silverfish, live, fleas, begbuds, spider mites, harlequin bugs, root-knot nematodes
If you are dealing with larger pests not manageable through companion planting, it may be a good idea to employ a net or protective barrier around your garden.
Ongoing Care of Your Organic Garden
Getting your garden set up requires you to dedicate a rather large block of time to preparing your garden for success. However, the most successful organic gardens require a steady amount of garden care time throughout the season and the year. Here are some of our key takeaways in caring for your organic garden:
- Be sure to feed your plants consistently, adding in compost regularly throughout your gardening season.
- Use gardening tools that adhere to your organic gardening principles of not putting any harmful toxins/chemicals into the environment. For example, check out the Element® Green&GROW® Lead-Free Garden Hose.
- Continue adding mulch onto your garden when it begins to look bare. Pick any weeds as soon as they arise.
- Rotate the location of your garden and/or crops each new planting season.
Organic gardening can be a fruitful, fulfilling and surprisingly easy task for the dedicated gardener. With these tips, you’ll be prepared to take your garden organic in 2020. Happy gardening!
How To Choose a Garden Irrigation System
No two gardens are exactly alike. Any homeowner will tell you that a garden is as unique as the person who tends it. When it comes to choosing a garden irrigation system, there are numerous factors to consider. Which type of garden watering system will help your plants thrive? Here's a guide to help you make the best choice.
Efficient watering is perhaps the biggest challenge faced by those who garden. Getting the right amount of water to your plants is important, but you also want to do that in a way that encourages an economical use of water. Some irrigation systems are better than others when it comes to efficiency.
We suggest that you begin by asking yourself a series of important questions before deciding which watering irrigation system is best for you:
- What are the watering needs of your plant varieties? Different plants have different requirements, and you need to know how each plant affects the entire watering scheme.
- What limitations are imposed by your climate? Obviously, if you live in a hot and arid environment, more frequent watering will be required.
- How much rainfall can you expect? This will help you determine how much watering you will need to do on a yearly basis.
- What about sun and shade exposure? Areas in direct sunlight demand a higher volume of water, while shady areas can easily be overwatered and subjected to plant health issues.
- Does your terrain slope? Gardens are rarely planted on a perfectly flat terrain, so you need to understand how slope affects runoff.
Knowing the answers to all of these questions will put you in a better position to choose the right garden irrigation system.
The Most Common Irrigation Systems for Your Garden
Once you have answered the questions above, it is time to think about the best garden irrigation system for your plants. There are several common choices. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.
In-ground sprinkler systems require precise installation and regular maintenance. These types of garden irrigation systems can be more expensive than others to install and maintain, but they may be a good option for homeowners who don't have a lot of time to actively manage their landscaping.
A more popular choice for the home gardener is a soaker hose system or a sprinkler hose system. These options are more cost-effective and allow you to take a proactive role in how your garden is watered.
Soaker hoses are made of a porous material that allows water to seep out at regular intervals along the length of the hose. With many hose sizes available, you can customize the layout of your soaker hoses without disturbing the arrangement of your plants. They also allow water to disperse evenly so that all plants get the moisture they need.
Sprinkler hose systems achieve the same goal in a different manner. Water is sprayed out of the hose upward. This can be beneficial, but you need to take care that excess moisture is not left on the leaves of your plants.
A great thing about both of these options is that they require no special installation. You simply attach them to your water spigot, place them and allow the hose to do the hard work.
Finally, drip irrigation systems work similar to soaker hoses in that they can be wrapped in any pattern, but they are better for those who have a large, symmetrical garden. These can be one of the best irrigation systems for a large vegetable garden that is neatly organized in long rows, because they provide precise watering. Unlike a soaker hose, where water weeps along the entire length of the hose, a drip hose only emits water where you place the drip connectors, making it highly water conscious.
What Is the Best Way To Water a Raised Bed Garden?
It is becoming more common for home gardeners to use raised beds and containers for their plants. When it comes to a raised bed, a soaker hose is probably going to be the best choice.
A soaker hose can be threaded through the base of the plants in the raised flower bed. It can easily be kept out of sight and will not detract from the beauty of the garden arrangement. Once placed, a soaker hose doesn't need to be moved around. You'll also get better coverage and less waste than you would with a sprinkler.
Be Informed About Efficient Watering
Most home gardeners would probably tell you that proper watering is equal parts art and science. You are probably going to need to experiment with different methods before you decide which one is best for your garden.
Also think about efficient watering by asking questions of your garden hose supplier. This can be a great source of information that will improve your home gardening experience. Yes, it is possible to achieve effective watering and reduce the time it takes to keep your plants looking great!
How to Choose the Best Water Hose Nozzle
There’s nothing like walking into a well-kept garden that is as beautiful and peaceful as an oasis. If you are an avid gardener or just appreciate beautifully maintained greenery, you know that gardening is a pastime you can lose yourself in. Crafting the perfect garden is a way to express yourself, invest in a therapeutic pastime and simply drift away from anything that is stressful in your daily life. Despite its ability to be pleasant, gardening can also be quite a challenge and troublesome at times. But whether gardening is a therapeutic hobby or a chore, also depends on the tools that you use. One of the most fundamental and practical tools for gardening is you water hose nozzle. Finding the
best hose spray nozzle for your gardening needs may be overwhelming. At Swan Hose, we have the expertise to answer your gardening questions and point you in the right direction so that you can find one of the best garden hose nozzles for your home oasis. Here are our recommendations for 6 of the best water hose nozzles, categorized by which task you plan to tackle.
Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced gardener, a
multi-function hose nozzle will work wonders in your garden. If you are overwhelmed by a variety of nozzles to choose from or simply tired of switching out your nozzles each time you have a different task to perform, you will benefit immensely from a practical multi use nozzle. We recommend using our multi-spray dial-style shower nozzle if you’re looking for a versatile solution to your watering needs. This is one of the best adjustable hose nozzles on the market since it is easy to use and delivers superior performance. Simply choose a spray pattern from the dial and in seconds you’ll be able to begin spray misting small plants that don’t require much water or thoroughly cover larger pasture areas. Featuring nine total spray patterns, you are bound to cover all of your watering needs with just one hose nozzle.
Those hard-to-reach hanging plants can be tricky to water and you can easily over-water your plants if you’re not careful and don’t have the right nozzle. A watering wand can easily solve this problem for you and having one of the
best watering wands will make all the difference in the world. Our 18-inch adjustable watering wand is one of the best garden watering wands on the market. Its ergonomic grip and thumb wheel let you easily water your hanging plants and eliminate the hassle of elevating your water hose. A watering wand will let you precisely water hanging plants and reduce your water waste.
If you have the honor and privilege of having a more extravagant garden, odds are you have even higher than usual hanging plants. To water your extra elevated plants, you’ll need an
extra long watering wand to precisely water your plants just enough to nourish and not drown them. If you’re searching for the best garden hose nozzle for distance, we recommend our 28-inch watering wand, which lets you reach all of your hanging plants and reduces your water waste. It is one of the best hose nozzles for distance and features five spray patterns that can be adjusted to spray downward or sideways, depending on how artistically you position your plants.
Need to cover larger areas of your lawn? We recommend using our SoakerFan spray nozzle, which is the
best hose nozzle for watering grass. Providing you with extensive coverage for even larger lawns and a comfortable ergonomic grip, this is without a doubt one of the best hose nozzle for watering lawns currently on the market. With a watering hose nozzle that is this easy to use, watering your lawn won’t feel like such a tedious chore. This durable and water saving nozzle is the best hose nozzle for watering plants that we recommend. Its lead free and zinc free build paired with its water waste reduction capabilities, make this and environmentally friendly product for your lawn.
Having a beautiful garden doesn’t only entail taking care of your greenery; it also requires you to clean the surfaces surrounding your garden such as driveways, decks and porches. For this task, you need to find the
best high pressure hose nozzle to thoroughly clean those surfaces. There’s nothing like having the best heavy duty hose nozzle to quickly and effectively clean your driveway. A well kept garden adds charm and a welcoming touch to your home, but a clean driveway, porch or deck will impress any guests or passerby. That is why we recommend finding one of the best jet hose nozzle such as our high pressure Swan adjustable spray nozzle. It is durable, lightweight and allows you to adjust the water pressure so that you don’t damage the material that you are cleaning if it is a little more delicate. If you’re in the market for the best hose nozzle for pressure, our jet hose nozzle is highly recommended.
Looking for a more than a gardening water hose nozzle? We can also recommend hose nozzles for other watering uses such as washing your car. Our versatile AdjustablePro spray nozzle is the
best hose nozzle for power washing your car or watering your plants. It features an ergonomic design that makes it easy to hold and reach every area of your car and a conveniently placed water control wheel to reduce water waste. Only the best car wash hose nozzles such as our AdjustablePro nozzle include a lifetime warranty so that your hose nozzle can stand the test of time. Its multi-functionality, durability and convenience in use makes it the best hose nozzle for auto detailing.
Your water hose is an essential tool to your garden and having a high-quality hose nozzle designed for your specific watering needs makes this tool easy and convenient to use. Our 6 water hose nozzle recommendations can turn any gardening task from a chore to a therapeutic pastime.
How To Compact Soil Using Water
Homeowners, landscapers and farmers spend a lot of time using aerators to break up compacted soil. However, there are cases when soil can actually be too loose. This causes a different set of problems, which include poor seed growth and cracking foundations. Fortunately, items that you likely have on hand, like a garden hose, can be used to firm up dirt.
Why Would I Need To Compact Soil?
There are several reasons that you might find yourself needing to compact your soil. First, loose soil won’t deliver the seed-to-soil contact needed for fast germination, reducing yields. This is a major problem in gardens with freshly tilled soil. If you compact soil with water, you can increase this contact without making the surface too hard for the new plant to break through.
Foundational support is another factor that might require you to compact your soil. If you’re putting anything on top of the ground, you need to compact the soil to create a solid foundation. This includes pavers and support blocks for patios.
In some climates, massive differences between winter and summer precipitation can cause the soil to expand and shrink throughout the year. Irrigating in the summer helps the soil maintain and regain its structure, preventing foundation damage. This shrinkage usually appears as a separation between the soil and exterior walls.
How Does Water Compaction Work?
Have you ever seen a cereal box with the label “Contents May Settle After Shipping”? When the bag is filled at the factory, the cereal pieces don’t perfectly align, creating air gaps. As the package bounces around in the back of a truck, the contents shift, falling into place and leaving a large air space at the top of the bag.
Soaking soil has the same effect that vibrations have on cereal. Water acts as both a lubricant and a carrier of dirt particles. As this water drains from the soil, gravity pulls these loose particles downward, filling in air gaps.
Will My Soil Be Compacted After a Heavy Rain?
The force of raindrops mechanically compacts surface dirt, creating a soil crust that is up to ½-inch deep. This layer impedes drainage and makes it hard for seedlings to emerge from soil. By applying low-pressure water near the ground’s surface, the soil compacts evenly. If you compact garden soil with water this way, you can increase soil density without creating a hard top layer.
Water vs. Mechanical Compaction Methods
Soil can be mechanically compacted by applying force with a roller, hoe or rammer.
A roller looks like a drum aerator, minus the spikes. Pulling this weighted metal drum over the lawn crushes the soil. In a pinch, a heavily loaded wheelbarrow can do the same job.
A flat hoe is handy for localized compaction. By slamming the flat side of the blade into the ground, you can compact dirt close to the surface. This method is usually used to support newly planted saplings.
A rammer looks like a jackhammer with a flat base. The vibrating base shakes the dirt beneath, causing it to settle. These heavy-duty machines are usually reserved for major construction projects, like forming building foundations and pouring driveways.
There’s one thing in common with these three methods: They’re all brute-force methods that compact surface soil. Using water doesn’t create a hard pan on the surface, and since it’s slower, it’s easier to get the perfect density for your project. While each mechanical method has its uses, for most compaction jobs, it’s safer and easier to use water.
How To Pack Down Dirt With Hose Attachments
Using low-pressure water soaks the ground without eroding surface soil or creating hard pan on the surface. There are three tools that let you get this low-pressure flow from your outdoor spigots:
A low pressure nozzle
A lawn sprinkler
A perforated soaker hose
If you already have soaker hoses lining your garden plot for irrigation, you can use them for compaction.
No matter which tool you choose, application remains the same. Gently soak the soil until water is pooling on the surface (see example below). Give the soil at least an hour to absorb the water before repeating.
How much water you’ll need and how long it takes between waterings will depend on the makeup of your soil. Clay soils are less porous from the start and drain slowly. Sandy soils are packed with open spaces, draining quickly and requiring more work to compact.
To test the soil, use a trowel to dig about 6 inches deep. Pull out the soil and crush some in your hand. If you get a ball that holds together and doesn’t leak water, the soil has the perfect amount of moisture and compaction. A crumbling ball indicates a need for more water. If the ball drips water, the soil needs more time to drain.
How To Compact Soil for Foundation Repair
To compact the soil around a structure, lay out soaker hose 1 to 1-1/2 feet from building walls. For the best performance, limit water pressure to 25 psi. You may need to install a pressure limiter on your faucet. Water the ground for 10 to 15 minutes two to three times per day. If the soil is already pulling away from outer walls, you may need more frequent treatments to fill in the gaps. Remember to let the soil drain between treatments. Going all-in on water can wash away dirt, undermining its structure under your foundation.
How To Fix a Leaky Outdoor Faucet
A common issue that any gardener or homeowner will likely run into one day is the problem of a leaky spigot. This can present as a small, insignificant issue, but if left untouched for long enough, even an outdoor faucet leaking gently can cause serious damage to your garden, your house’s foundation and your bank account. Luckily, a leaky outdoor faucet repair can be easy, quick and, most importantly, cheap. All you’ll need is a wrench, pliers, a screwdriver and a spare washer for your leaking hose bib repair. Note: If you’re working with a frost-free faucet and you see that water is leaking from the top of the bib, you might also need to replace the vacuum breaker. Skip to step 5 for more details on vacuum breaker replacement.
Step 1: Check the Packing Nut
Commonly referred to as a spigot or a hose bib, the outdoor faucet on your house has a fairly straightforward anatomy. Behind the handle, you’ll find a packing nut that keeps the water’s egress sealed off from the outside. Tightening this packing nut with ¼ to ⅛ turn is the first step in any leaky outdoor faucet repair. If your handle is secured instead with a screw at its center, follow the same steps applied to the screw instead. Oftentimes, tightening this seal is all you need to get your hose bibb back to functioning the way it should be. If you find that your spigot is still leaking after this, you’ll have to move forward with removing this packing nut completely to gain access to the hose stem. Before you do this, make sure your water supply is turned off.
Step 2: Turn Off Your Water Supply
It’s important to make sure your water supply is turned off when moving forward with a hose repair; otherwise, you will run into a world of problems when you remove the packing nut to access the faucet stem. If you aren’t sure how to do this, we recommend locating your water meter first, as you’ll typically find your water shut-off valve nearby. The location of the shut-off valve and meter vary, with indoor water meters more common for colder regions and outdoor water meters used frequently in warmer climates. If you believe your water meter is located indoors, try searching your basement, garage or crawl space. Typically, turning the water shut-off valve clockwise to horizontal will turn your water supply off. If your valve uses a knob, turn clockwise until you can no longer turn. After you’ve done this, make sure to turn your outdoor faucet to open before proceeding with the repair to get any excess water out that might be left in the pipes (and to make sure you succeeded in cutting off the water supply).
Step 3: Accessing the Washer Assembly
Once you are sure your water supply is shut off, use an adjustable wrench to loosen the packing nut that is behind the handle of the faucet. Remove the handle to gain access to the washer assembly, which will likely need to be replaced. This step differs depending on whether you are working with a regular or frost-free faucet. On a regular spigot, you’ll find the washer assembly directly behind the faucet handle. If you are using a freeze-proof faucet, you’ll find your handle is attached to a long metal rod called the faucet stem. Remove the entire stem, and you’ll find the damaged washer at the opposite end to the handle. Use a screwdriver to remove the washer assembly, gaining access to the washer. Replace the damaged washer with a new one of the same size and thickness.
Step 4: Reassemble Your Faucet
Replace the screw at the end of the faucet stem or faucet handle. Replace the handle back to its starting position and tighten the packing nut by turning it clockwise.
Step 5: Replacing the Vacuum Breaker on a Frost-Free Faucet
If you have a newer house, you might find that you are working with a frost-free faucet. While these faucets are great in that they prevent freezing and burst pipes, they have more parts to deal with and, therefore, there are more places where your leak could be coming from. The valve on the vacuum breaker has a tendency to wear down and break, letting water through when it normally wouldn’t. Replacing the vacuum breaker is easy but will likely require you to take your old part to a hardware store to make sure the replacement part is an exact fit for your particular spigot. Before heading to the store, simply unscrew (or pop off) the vacuum breaker cap on top of your faucet. Underneath, you’ll find the vacuum breaker. Each faucet is different in this department, but typically you will be able to dislodge this part by either unscrewing it to dislodge it from any threads or pulling it out using pliers. You’ll install the replacement the same way that you removed the original.
How To Mend a Garden Hose
Gardening is something of a constant fight against Murphy’s Law. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Fortunately for the modern gardener, much of the trial and error has been taken out of the adjustments and fixes that are necessary to set things right. One of those small trials that can be a big problem if left untended is a leaky or severed water hose. We’ve all seen hoses that are cut short, taped or which feature multiple male-female end connections along the way. There’s a better way.
Hose mender make it simple
It used to cost a lot of time, and more than likely a few feet of hose, if you accidentally hit a water hose with a lawn mower or a spade. Today, there is a convenient option for hose mending that is quick, easy and effective.
Swan Hose Menders work with both 5/8-inch and 3/4-inch standard garden water hoses. When you use this simple solution to repair your garden hose, you’ll be back doing what you love in just a few minutes, and you won’t lose length unless you have a significant run of damaged hose.
Instead of piecing together odd parts from the junk drawer to splice a damaged hose, the
Swan Hose Mender
The hose mender features a female-to-female pipe connector that fits hoses from 5/8 inch to 3/4 inch. The connector is placed inside two ends of cleanly cut hose, and the outer clamps are applied to form a secure, watertight union that won’t randomly fail and will stand up to rolling, unrolling and the weight of dragging a full hose. The Swan hose mender won’t loosen and leak like taping, and it’s designed to last as long as your hose does – and even longer.
Mending a water hose is easy
There’s no guesswork with the
Swan Hose Mender; it fits all garden hoses from 5/8 inch to 3/4 inch. Application is easy, and when you’re done, you’ll have a leakproof connection you can rely on. It’s easy to mend your leaky or severed hose with the Swan hose mender, just follow a few simple steps:
- Identify the damaged area of your hose and cut it away. Cut surfaces need to be flat to fit the hose mender properly. Likewise, if your hose was severed, square the cut edges.
- Apply the hose mender female to female pipe connector to one end of the hose and then the other. There is a washer-like protrusion in the center of the fitting; apply the hose pieces as close to it as possible.
- Place the clamps over the hose union on both sides of the washer area. Use the included Philips (cross head) screws to tighten the clamps, creating a solid connection.
- Connect and resume use of your hose. If there are any leaks at the union be sure your pipe connection was fully inserted in your hose ends and your clamps are snugly applied.
Mending a damaged or severed garden hose is a simple matter if you use the right parts for the job. Skip the trial and (mostly) error of taping and splicing with odd bits of pipe and farmer clamps and use a
Swan Hose Mender instead. Get back to the garden where you belong.
How To Use Soaker Hoses in a Vegetable Garden
Whether you’re a subsistence gardener or you raise a vegetable garden for fun and to add variety to your summer menu, chances are you will need to find an effective way to deliver water to your plants. You can hand water, water with sprinklers, water with soaker hoses or use complicated drip systems. If you’re like many gardeners, you love your garden, and you put a lot of time and energy into it to keep weeds at bay and your plants thriving. There are other things that still require your attention and money. For most gardeners, the basic soaker hose is a perfect compromise between the time required to hand water, the mess and inaccuracy of overhead watering, and the fussiness and expense of emitter-based drip systems.
How Do I Set Up a Soaker Hose System?
The first question about using soaker hoses is always: “How do I use a soaker hose in my garden?” Using a soaker hose watering system is simple. Most gardeners who use soaker hoses will lay them out along the rows of plants they wish to water and leave them in place for the growing season rather than disturb the system and the plants between watering. If you’re a fan of mulch gardening, you may cover your soaker hoses with mulch.
How Do I Run My Soaker Hoses Through the Garden?
A single soaker down the center of a narrow, raised bed, or between two fairly close rows of plants works very well. For larger, high-demand plants like indeterminate tomatoes, you may wish to loop the soaker hose around the base of the plant for more even irrigation.
If you have a sizeable garden and use multiple soaker hoses, you can simply attach a regular garden hose to whichever hose you want to feed and move it to each soaker in turn, or you could choose to get a little fancier and install a manifold with an individual valve for each connection.
Do I Need Special Equipment To Use Soaker Hoses in My Garden?
Soaker hoses work best with a pressure of around 10 pounds per square inch, so your home system should provide more than enough pressure to service multiple soaker hoses at once. Some gardeners use an external pressure control while others simply turn back the main faucet to reduce the flow of water. If you purchase quality soaker hoses with restrictor washers, you won’t need to reduce your line pressure. Restrictor washers are simple disks found in the female end of the soaker hose. They feature a small hole which only allows a small quantity of water to enter the hose at any given time, naturally reducing the water pressure to the desired rate of flow.
How Long Do I Run My Soaker Hose?
Right after questions about setting up a soaker hose system, this is the next question that comes up: “How long do I leave the soaker hose on in my vegetable garden?” There are two different schools of thought on this one, but neither of them really answers the question the way you might expect. The short answer is that “your mileage may vary.” Let’s see what that really means in terms of how long you need to run a soaker hose in order to adequately water your vegetable garden.
Soaker Hose Watering in Inches
In theory, there are two ways to measure how much water your garden is receiving and whether it is adequate. The first is to know how much water your garden is receiving in inches. Generally, it is agreed that the average vegetable garden needs about one inch of water per week in the spring, and one and one-half to two inches in the summer.
In order to know how long you need to run your soaker hose in the garden based on the “watering in inches” method, you need to know two things: How long does it take my soaker hose to put out an inch of water? And how much rain has my area received?
Once you know your rainfall total, you can calculate how much water you need to add to get your desired weekly total. To know how long it will take you to distribute the additional water you need through your soaker hose, you can use a shallow vessel such as a tuna can placed under your soaker hose to time how long it takes to deliver an inch of water through the hose. That will allow you to figure out how much time it will take to apply the water you need using your soaker hose.
The Depth of Moisture Method of Soaker Hose Irrigation
This method works very well for many gardeners, especially those who practice deep bed intensive gardening methods. To test the depth of water, you will simply start watering and periodically dig a spade of dirt out to see how deep the water has soaked in. Most gardeners desire a depth of 8 to 12 inches with some variation for soil type. In most cases, you’ll be able to assume that the same depth will require a similar irrigation time so that you’ll know how long to let your soaker hose run.
How to Water a Lawn
If you’re a new homeowner or you’ve just started taking an interest in caring for your lawn and garden, you’re sure to have a million questions. Unfortunately, there is sometimes a lot of conflicting information. Something as seemingly simple as how to water a lawn can open up a can of worms every time someone new enters the conversation. There are a few different camps out there. Some, like the in-ground sprinkler crowd, expect a serious financial commitment. Others don’t seem to really buy their own stories. So what’s the best way to give the average lawn the water it needs?
The Hands-On Approach
Assuming most people aren’t caring for the sweeping greens of a golf course, taking care of the average urban lawn isn’t a huge time commitment. To keep the green in your grass, all you need is a good hose that will reach all over your yard and a nozzle for the end that will spread and soften the flow of water. Hand watering is the most effective way to see that your grass is really getting the water it needs. Sprinkler methods lose a lot of water to evaporation as water is sprayed through the air and can cause runoff if you don’t move a portable sprinkler regularly. This can be a waste of money if you’re using city water, and it certainly isn’t ecologically sensitive to run water down the storm drain for no good reason.
It really won’t take that long to water your grass, and when you hand water, you’ll learn more about what your lawn needs. Work slowly and move evenly over your lawn, paying attention to the results as you go. Does water pool in a particular place? Is another area always dry because there are large feature plantings nearby? Have you had a lot of rain lately, or has it been dry? When you take a hands-on approach to watering, you’ll be able to adapt your watering routine to maintain that lush green summer lawn that others only dream about.
How Much Water Does My Grass Need?
The average lawn needs between an inch and 2 inches of water a week. Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll be applying that whole amount every week. Those who live in moderate climates that receive a lot of rain will not need to water nearly as much as those who live in a more arid place. In general, you’ll want to water so that the moisture reaches a depth of roughly 6 inches. There are a couple of different ways to measure how much moisture your grass is getting when you water regardless of your irrigation method.
- Probe the ground with a thin but stout stick or a screwdriver. You should be able to reach a depth of 6 inches fairly easily, but the ground shouldn’t be spongy. If it’s too squishy, you’re overwatering. If you can’t get the stick in more than a couple inches (avoiding rocks), your ground is still too dry, so water on!
- The can/pan method. Sprinkler guys love this. Place a shallow pan or a series of tuna or cat food cans in the area you’re watering. To see how much water you’ve applied to the area, simply check the depth in the cans. Unfortunately, this method won’t take into account the water Mother Nature has provided, so overwatering is easy. This method also leaves a bit to be desired where trees and shrubs are taking more than their fair share from the lawn area.
When Is the Best Time to Water?
In general, the best time to water is early in the morning, before the sun gets too intense and when temperatures are cooler. When it gets warmer later in the day, evaporation will take away more of the water you apply, so watering early in the day allows more water to soak in for a greater watering depth. Likewise, areas that have a lot of wind will be calmer early in the day, and more of your water will stay where it needs to be. Some prefer to water at night, and that can work if you really don’t have time to water in the morning, but be aware that the longer the grass surface remains wet, the more risk there is for disease to develop on damp grass. Morning watering really is ideal. It allows the water time to soak in yet doesn’t allow time for nasties to develop on wet foliage.
How Often Should I Water?
It is really best to give your grass a good soaking once or twice a week to be sure you achieve a good irrigation depth. If your schedule allows you to water every three or four days, you can take advantage of the water that nature gives your grass, probably run less risk of overwatering and still be able to give a little extra moisture when it is needed. Avoid frequent shallow watering. When you water too frequently and don’t allow the water to penetrate deeply, you discourage your grass from building a good, deep root mass. Without strong, deep roots, your lawn is extremely susceptible to drought, and a weekend away during a hot spell could mean you come back to dehydrated, burned grass. This can be especially important if you live in an area where watering restrictions are a reality. Watering deeply when you can will help your lawn survive the times when you can’t irrigate.
Enjoy the Green
If you take a little time and pay attention to the process, you’ll find that keeping your lawn lush and green is a simple matter. You may even find the time with hose in hand meditative. It can be especially rewarding to spend some time tending your lawn when you’re feeling stressed.
How To Water Tomato Plants in the Garden
Few plants are more popular in the vegetable garden than tomatoes. Learning how to water tomatoes is the key to success. These delicious treats are primarily composed of water, and they need it in proper measure to thrive. Here are some important things you should know about watering tomato plants.
How Often To Water Tomatoes
Tomato plants need a lot of water. That doesn't mean your plants can't be watered too much. Many individuals who home-grow tomatoes make the mistake of thinking watering the plants is as simple as keeping the soil soaked throughout the season. The truth is that there is a distinct art to watering for healthy growth.
Here's the simple answer: You should water your tomatoes only when they need it. How do you determine that? By checking the soil around the plant. You want the soil to be damp around the plant to a depth of 6" to 8". In most climates, this will mean watering once each day, but that can change depending on the amount of rainfall and the temperature in your location.
You need to regularly inspect the soil surrounding the plants to make sure it is moist enough to encourage root growth. Keeping the ground damp is much easier than trying to hydrate it after it has become dry. Start with once per day and keep notes. You'll soon determine how much water is required to maintain dampness at the appropriate depth.
How Much To Water Tomatoes
This is where science enters the equation. Some university studies indicate that most tomato plants need about an inch of water per week to thrive. It is possible to quantify this amount of water in terms of gallons, and some growers have done that with scientific formulas. About 1" to 1.5" of water is going to translate to between one-half gallon and a full gallon of water.
Here's the tricky part. You can't administer all that water in a single day. This will create standing water and run-off, which is no good for your plants. Hopefully, there will be some weeks when you get a little help from rainfall. Again, let the dampness of the soil around your plants be the common-sense guide.
Experience is going to be your best teacher. Pay attention to the measures you must take to maintain moisture. Make good notes. You should be able to refer to those notes year after year in the same climate.
When To Water Tomatoes
This part of effective tomato watering is fairly straightforward. The best time to water your tomatoes is early in the morning. This will allow any moisture that makes its way to the leaves an opportunity to dry before the heat of the day, and that can help to prevent diseases and burning of the plants.
You need the water you're administering to be efficiently used. Too much standing water and moisture on the plants themselves is going to create a host of problems. By watering early in the morning, you will create an efficient routine that works in tandem with the plant's natural biological functions.
Avoid watering in the evening at all costs. Once the temperatures drop and the water becomes cold, your plants will be exposed to health risks.
Methods of Watering Tomatoes
The manner in which you water tomato plants is also very important. You should always water the stem of the plant instead of the leaves and flowers. Water on leaves is a recipe for disaster.
Water needs to get to the root system of the plant. It will do that more efficiently when you water around the stem. This means using a hose of some type. A sprinkler will put too much water on the plant.
Not all hoses are created equal. One of the biggest issues with using a traditional water hose is that moving it around the garden can inadvertently damage plants. You will also have to move often since you are watering the stems. A more effective method is to use soaker hose irrigation.
A soaker hose system allows you to place the hose near the stems of your plants where it can remain without being moved. You can then adjust the flow of water from the soaker to water in a slow manner, giving the water plenty of time to penetrate the soil. Soaker hoses are by far the best way to water tomatoes.
When it comes to a great tomato garden, watering is more than half the battle. Get this part right, and you'll have a far better chance of harvesting some amazing fruits. With each passing season, your ability to grow these vegetable garden staples will increase exponentially.
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.
Garden Hose Buying Guide
Summer is almost in full swing, and that means it's time to upgrade your assortment of outdoor tools. Garden hoses are an important part of your outdoor maintenance, but before you buy a new hose, there are some important things you need to know. Swan has all the information you need to make a good decision.
Types of Garden Hoses
All garden hoses are not created equal. You'll find there are many sizes, colors and styles. Some hoses are made of different materials and serve different purposes. Some hoses even have water flow control. The type of hose you select will depend on the type of work you plan to do this summer.
Light/medium-duty garden hoses include the Swan WaterSAVER 50' Garden Hose. These types of hoses are designed for light use in the garden and low-pressure watering needs. Many of them are made of vinyl, but they can last through many gardening seasons when you properly care for them. This is the type of hose you need if you are watering delicate plants or simply filling the family pet's water dish. The standard light-duty garden hose diameter is 1/2", and most are between 50' and 100' in length.
Heavy-duty garden hoses, such as the Swan FlexRITE PRO 100' 5/8" Water Hose, have a larger diameter, which means more water pressure. These hoses are also made of a thicker construction and more durable materials. They are designed for cleanup jobs in addition to watering your plants. You will also find that many heavy-duty garden hoses include extra features, such as kink resistance and crush-proof couplings.
Premium-duty hoses are made to tackle the large, tough jobs. These hoses are preferred by commercial users and professional landscapers. The Goodyear MAXLite 50' 5/8" Premium Rubber+™ Hose is an example of hoses in this category. Swan sells commercial-grade hoses that are twice as strong and 40 percent lighter than a traditional rubber hose. Good for everything from pressure washing to crop watering, these hoses are extremely durable.
A soaker hose works well when you need to saturate vegetable gardens with a nice, low-pressure form of application. The Element 50 ft. Sprinkler and Soaker Hose is great for getting into those narrow areas where large-scale watering is not an option. These hoses distribute water in a uniform pattern thanks to their design, and many of them feature Virgin PVC construction.
Garden Hose Sizes
The size of a garden hose refers to its diameter. This is an important consideration when choosing the right garden hose for your project. The wrong size could mean you might not have enough pressure to get the job done properly.
A 5/8” vs. 3/4" hose can mean a vast difference in the amount of pressure your hose generates. Pressure is something you have to consider, especially if you intend to use your hose for outdoor cleaning projects. A 1/2" diameter hose might be fine for basic watering and such, but you might need a standard garden hose diameter that is larger to cover a bigger area or clean the driveway.
Here's the thing to remember about garden hose dimensions: A larger diameter of hose carries more water per minute. A larger diameter hose can also be useful in handling differences in water pressure. For example, if you are pushing water uphill through a hose, it will be more beneficial to use a large diameter hose.
Garden Hose Lengths
The length of the garden hose you select should be determined by your personal needs. You can find hoses in lengths of 25', 50' or 100'. Choosing a hose that is too short will prevent you from getting the coverage you need. Selecting a hose that is too long can yield frustration, especially if you are trying to navigate confined areas.
A shorter garden hose is great for watering plants in containers or filling pet dishes. It works best when you have a small coverage area and don't need a lot of pressure. A longer garden hose is more efficient at covering larger areas and tackling cleaning projects.
If you select a long garden hose, be sure to choose a hose that provides kink resistance. You'll also want to make sure you get a hose that doesn't kink at the spigot, and Swan has many of these available. Most of them use a special hose armor that helps to prevent such kinks.
One important thing to remember: It is much more efficient to get the garden hose dimensions you require than it is to couple multiple hoses together. Using multiple hoses can create more wear and tear, and it also makes the process of watering more tedious and tiresome when you need to move a hose.
These are the considerations you need to be aware of when purchasing your next garden hose. As a final suggestion, remember that spending a little more for a better-quality hose will likely save you money in the long run. All the hoses here at Swan have a reputation for durability, and you'll find that they are made by the top names in the industry. We also have a wide selection of garden hose accessories that will simplify taking care of your garden, such as spray nozzles.
Now, get out there and make your yard beautiful again!
Soaker Hose Flow Rate and Water Usage
Many homeowners who maintain a garden are aware of the benefits of using a soaker hose. Others want to know more about soaker hose water usage before they make a change to their existing setup. If you are interested in soaker hose flow rate and water usage, we've got answers!
How Much Water Does a Soaker Hose Use?
Water usage should be a primary consideration for anyone who is considering a new hose for the garden. The subject is complicated, however. Water efficiency depends on many factors. The first thing to understand is that most plants require about two inches of water per week in order to thrive. This can vary according to plant species and climate.
This means you will need to gather some information about the types of plants you have and the area in which you live. Dry and arid environments are going to require more water. The good news is that a soaker hose can actually conserve water, saving you both time and money.
A logical consideration would then be how long a soaker hose needs to run in order to deliver those two inches of water. We can begin to understand by examining the soaker hose flow rate and how it helps you to apply the correct amount of water to your garden.
Soaker hose flow rate depends on a few different things:
- The diameter of the hose
- Water pressure
- Length of the hose
All of these factors will have an effect on how much water is delivered from your soaker hose. The longer the hose, the lower the flow rate. Similarly, hoses with a smaller diameter reduce the amount of water that can be delivered to your garden over a set amount of time.
The great thing about soaker hoses is that they use a method of construction that helps to mitigate many of these factors in a way that other garden hoses do not. The soaker hose allows water to seep out along the length of the hose rather than delivering it all from the hose end. This allows you to get more efficient water coverage with lower pressure, a shorter hose, and a smaller diameter.
Determining the Flow Rate of a Soaker Hose
Soaker hose GPM and soaker hose GPH refer to gallons per minute and gallons per hour respectively. This is key to answering the question, “How much water does a soaker hose use?” The answer is actually scientific to some degree, but thankfully, there is adequate research that gardeners can turn to for knowledge.
Here are a few accepted guidelines for soaker hose gallons per minute. A 5/8” soaker hose requires about 200 minutes to deliver one inch of water to a garden. This number is affected by the length of the hose and the overall rate of flow from the faucet. A good rule of thumb is to expect about ½ GPM as a standard faucet flow rate.
We can break that down easy enough. For 3/4” of water, you would need to water for 150 minutes. A quarter-inch would require just under an hour. This is where things get a little bit tricky, though. Remember, soaker hoses are designed to disperse water evenly throughout the garden. Because the water flow is evenly distributed, there is more adequate coverage even though the overall flow rate may be lower.
To determine how long you should run your soaker hose, you might want to check the soil around your plants after watering. You can use a trowel or similar garden instrument to determine how many inches of water your plant has received. Always be careful when using gardening tools so that you do not disturb the root system of the plant.
Our hope is that this basic information will inspire you to evaluate the usefulness of a garden soaker hose. For those who care about the environment and efficient watering, a soaker hose is the correct choice.
A Soaker Hose vs. Sprinkler - Which Is Best for Your Garden
With the warm summer months in full swing, now is the time to think about efficient watering for your garden. Two of the most popular garden watering systems are soaker hoses and sprinkler hoses. Doing a sprinkler hose vs. soaker hose comparison can be beneficial before you purchase new irrigation materials.
Inexpensive Solutions for Soil Soaking
Most home gardeners would agree that watering efficiency begins with systems that soak the soil around your plants. When you use sprinkler hoses or soaker hoses to water the garden, there is comfort in knowing that the water is being directed to the proper areas.
Watering from above with a traditional water sprinkler or a regular hose can create a multitude of problems. It can place moisture on the leaves of the plants, leading to ill health. It can also require more time to cover a smaller area.
The problem for homeowners is that elaborate soil-soaking watering systems for gardens can be costly. Using a soaker hose or a sprinkler is a much more affordable alternative.
Are Soaker Hoses Better Than Sprinklers?
You might be less familiar with the flat sprinkler hose, but this type of irrigation has gained popularity in recent years. While sprinkler hoses do have some use-specific applications, they can also be beneficial in certain other circumstances.
Let's begin by taking a quick look at how soaker hoses and sprinklers differ. A soaker hose allows water to seep through the hose along its entire length. This is a very efficient way to direct water to the root system of your plants.
A sprinkler hose combines the features of a soaker hose and a water sprinkler. There are small holes on the sprinkler that allow water to be sprayed along the entire length of the hose. If you have a garden with lots of odd placements and shapes, the sprinkler hose can be adjusted to give you effective coverage.
There are some cons when it comes to water hose sprinklers. These types of hoses are generally flat. The holes are located on one side of the hose. This means that proper placement is crucial to get the job done. If you are looking for a lower-maintenance form of positioning, a soaker hose might be the best choice.
If you try to use the sprinkler hose in an area where plants are bunched together, the placement of the plants can affect the spray. This means that you will get lots of water on some of the plants while others receive little at all.
What Sprinkler Hoses and Soakers Share
These types of garden hoses have a few things in common. First and foremost, they only require attachment to a standard water faucet. You do not need an expensive irrigation setup. Many homeowners appreciate that they can get more cost-effective watering with a soaker or a sprinkler.
However, you may be able to integrate some soakers and sprinklers with water irrigation systems that you already have in place. By using couplings and elbows that are often found in a small garden irrigation system, you can increase the flexibility of your hoses.
Both types of hose offer automated watering of your garden. You don't have to closely monitor the application of water in the way that you would with other methods. Finally, as mentioned, these types of hoses do a better job of getting water to the most important parts of the plant.
Sprinkler Hoses Are a New Trend!
You should know that sprinkler hoses are still relatively new when compared to soakers. It appears that this type of hose could very well become a new trend for home gardeners because of how successfully the hoses apply water.
The features of a sprinkler hose include a hole pattern that is uniform. This means that you will water evenly throughout your garden. The hoses are made of virgin PVC and built to last through many seasons.
Click here to learn more about the features of sprinkler hoses and see product photos.
The Flow Rate of a Garden Hose
One of the most important tasks for a gardener is efficient and effective watering. Getting the right amount of water to your plants requires the proper hose. It also helps to know the flow rate of a garden hose before you buy. This will prevent you from buying a garden hose that is inadequate for your needs.
Take a look at some common questions about garden hose flow rate and the provided answers. By the time you are done reading, you will be a flow rate expert!
What Is Garden Hose Flow Rate?
Defining garden hose flow rate is a good place to begin. The most simple definition of flow rate is that it is the amount of water that passes through a garden hose per minute. That amount is generally expressed in gallons per minute, or GPM. When you know this, you can also determine how many garden hose gallons per hour are being delivered.
There are several factors that affect garden hose flow rate. These include the diameter of the hose, the level of water pressure, and the length of the hose. A typical garden hose flow rate is usually between 9 and 17 gallons per minute. The average garden hose GPM would be around 12 to 13, but this can vary depending on the type of hose.
Hose Diameter and Flow Rate
Hose diameter is one of the major factors that affects flow rate in a garden hose. The most common garden hose diameters are 1/2, 5/8 and 3/4 inches. The garden hose that you are using right now is probably one of these dimensions.
What you need to understand here is that a smaller-diameter hose will deliver fewer GPM. When using a smaller hose, you will limit the amount of water than can be directed to your garden within a minute or an hour.
Garden Hose Water Pressure
Most commercially available hoses have a garden hose PSI rating. PSI refers to pounds per square inch, and this determines the speed at which water is passed through the hose.
The average pressure from a home water faucet is about 40 to 60 PSI, but it can be as high as 80 PSI. In some cases, homeowners have to install regulators to reduce the PSI. Before you can accurately estimate your garden hose flow rate, you will need to know the PSI of your water connection.
How Hose Length Affects Garden Hose Flow Rate
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to comprehend that flow rate will decrease as the garden hose gets longer. When you are moving water over a greater distance, the drop in flow rate can be dramatic.
A hose that is 25' long could have a flow rate of 24 GPM, depending on the diameter and PSI. Couple four of those same hoses together or use a 100' hose, and the flow rate will drop by 75 percent. Shorter is obviously better when it comes to efficiently watering your garden.
How To Determine Garden Hose Flow Rate
To determine the flow rate of your garden hose, it is necessary to perform a few calculations. You can do this manually with a container and a watch, but the best method is to use one of the garden flow rate calculators that is found online. By inputting a little bit of data, you can arrive at a very accurate flow rate.
We've simplified the process for you here by providing some calculations for the most popular varieties of garden hoses. We have used 40 PSI for our calculations because this is the median in most homes. We have also covered the three most common lengths of garden hose used by homeowners.
Garden Hose Diameter
Garden Hose Length
Garden Hose Efficiency
When you are evaluating flow rate for the garden hose that you intend to buy, remember that efficiency also depends upon the size of your garden and how often you need to water.
If you have a garden that is susceptible to standing water, using a hose with a lower flow rate will be beneficial. The water will have more time to saturate the ground, allowing you to water less often. If your soil absorbs water rapidly, a hose with a higher flow rate will minimize the time you spend watering your plants.
You should also consider whether you will be using your garden hose in tandem with a sprinkler. This has an effect on how much water is being distributed to your garden on an hourly basis.
Gardening becomes much more pleasurable when you delve into subjects like garden hose flow rate. This knowledge helps you get the proper amount of water to your plants in the shortest possible time.
Top 10 Tips for the Best Soaker Hose Application
Maintain a lush garden without the high cost of watering it. Don't use those sprinklers on vegetable or flower gardens because most of that water is lost to evaporation. Your answer is in the form of a soaker hose. These basic hoses have tiny perforations that allow water to seep through and into the ground. To get the most out of your system, try these top 10 tips for the best soaker hose setup.
Tip 1: Start With Level Ground
Your soaker hose system design functions best when the ground is level. The science behind these hoses is based on a uniform distribution of water within the conduit. Any slope to the ground forces the water to one part of the hose. This scenario defeats the purpose of the hose's design. That one area receives most of the water while the remaining soil stays largely dry. Reserve the soaker hoses for flat areas instead of rocky or hilly applications.
Takeaway 1: A flat layout gives optimal performance in a soaker watering system.
Tip 2: Skip the Sprinkler Connection
The pressure moving through your sprinkler system is too great for soaker hoses. They might break down the rubber and plastic materials. Connect your hose to a standard faucet. They're typically found against the home's wall just outside of your garden. Some homes have more than one so you have some versatility.
You're welcome to arrange the hose near the sprinkler system's coverage area if it's not supporting every corner of the planted spaces. You'll enhance the landscape's growth with this strategy.
Takeaway 2: A soaker hose does not work to connect with a traditional inground watering system. It can, however, supplement areas not sufficiently watered by in-ground systems.
Tip 3. Keep the End Cap On
If you're unfamiliar with a DIY garden watering system, you might be tempted to take off the end cap as you're setting up the hoses. Removing the end cap presumably helps you see the water flowing through the conduit. However, it's a better strategy to leave the end cap on. The water remains trapped in the hose so it can seep into the ground. This is the action you want to see in your garden.
Takeaway 3: Removing the end cap to see if water will flow all the way through the hose is not a good test to see if the soaker hose is leaking properly.
Tip 4. Fill the Hose Up Entirely
The concept behind soaker hoses is forced liquid through tiny holes. If the hose doesn't have enough water pressure pressing against the walls, the moisture cannot seep out. Start your soaker hose with its entire length full of water. It should have a standard cylindrical appearance when it's full. It shouldn't look distended or flat on any section. Watch the moisture seep through the walls so that you know the system is working as intended.
Takeaway 4. Initially, the soaker hose will not weep until the full length of hose is full of water.
Tip 5. Keep the Restrictor Disk Inserted in the Hose Coupling at Water Source
Your soaker hose isn't just a conduit with weep holes. Each length comes with a restrictor disk that's designed to be used at the water source. This internal part controls the water entering the hose, which leads to a controlled soaking in the garden. Most soaker hose placement designs, however, call for multiple lengths connected together. Don't forget to remove the disk from the other hoses. You only require one disk at the faucet end for pressure-control purposes.
Takeaway 5. Make sure the blue restrictor disk is inserted in the female coupling at the water source. You should remove the restrictor disk from subsequent hoses when connected together.
Tip 6. Use One Water Source for Each 150-Length
There's a limit to your soaker-hose design because of basic science. Ideally, stop connecting lines when you reach the 150-foot mark. Hoses longer than this measurement won't properly soak the area. The conduit loses water pressure as the length stretches farther away from the water source. Systems require multiple water sources if you need to cover more than a 150-foot length. Choose your design carefully so that you can optimize the water flowing into your yard.
Takeaway 6. Do not use more than 150 feet of soaker hoses from one water source.
Tip 7. Avoid High Water Pressure
An ill-conceived strategy to avoid the 150-foot limit is simply adding a higher water pressure to the system. Don't force more water into the soaker hose because the results won't be beneficial. The hose expands like a balloon, which causes the holes to widen as well. You end up with a deluge of water into the soil while damaging the hose. It's possible for the hose to crack or break entirely too.
Takeaway 7. Higher water pressure does NOT push more water into the hose and make the hose weep more. Increasing water flow from the faucet creates the risk of bursting the hose at the connection.
Tip 8. Keep the Water Source High
An understandable mistake involves the use of hoses where they run uphill on a property. Consider the role that gravity plays in your setup. Water will naturally flow downhill. Use this concept to guide your installation. Choose a water source that's higher than the hose's position on a flat, ground surface. As the water leaves the spigot, gravity pulls it downward and into the hose's length. Controlled seepage is the result of this design choice.
Takeaway 8. The water source should be at a higher elevation than the soaker hose. Let gravity work for you, not against you.
Tip 9. Determine Suitable Timing
Because of the slow process of adding water to your garden, soaking times can be deceptive. For a standard five-eighths-of-an-inch hose, you need 200 minutes to saturate the garden with one inch of water. Most yards require about two inches of water each week. Ideally, watch your property's water use and gauge the soaking times as necessary. Soil factors, landscaping obstacles and other features play a part in your watering strategies.
Takeaway 9. How long you should water with a soaker hose depends on specific conditions. For best results, monitor and adjust accordingly based on variations in soil type, plants being watered, temperature, etc.
Tip 10. Test It Out
Always test the soaker hose system before you finalize the yard's appearance. Don't outright bury the hose in the soil. Cover it with mulch so the water can still seep through with ease. Coil the hose around certain plants, such as bushes, so you're able to saturate enough soil for successful root absorption.
Takeaway 10. Lay out your design and test before you cover with mulch or dirt to make sure water is reaching everything you want it to water.
Knowing how to set up a soaker hose system gives you the power to conserve water while improving your property's appearance. Inspect your hoses on a regular basis to make sure they're operating as designed. Watch those flowers and fruits grow exponentially with ample moisture supporting their roots.
Using Soaker Hoses for Foundation Watering
Foundation repairs can be expensive, but you may be able to avoid them with a little water. Using soaker hoses, you can set up a foundation watering system that can keep the soil under your foundation from contracting during extreme weather. This can stop the shifts that stress the support structure under your home.
What Does Water Have To Do With Foundation Damage?
The pores in soil act like a sponge. When the soil is filled with water, it swells, and when it’s dry, it shrinks. This expansion and contraction of soil around and under your home moves the foundation up and down. Often, this movement is uneven, lifting up only part of the building. These shifts can crack your foundation.
When you keep the ground around the foundation moist in the summer, it shrinks less. This limits its movement, protecting your foundation.
Do I Need To Water My Soil To Prevent Foundation Damage?
There are a few factors that can make your foundation susceptible to soil-related damage:
- Any soil can shift with varying levels of moisture. However, clay soils expand and contract the most.
- The worst shifting happens during droughts and extreme heat in areas that get heavy rainfall the rest of the year.
- Slab foundations and pier-and-beam foundations are more susceptible to shifting than waffle slab or ribbed slab foundations.
Nationally, North Texas, Central Texas and Oklahoma have the worst problems with foundation shifting due to the heavy clay soil and extreme summer temperatures in those areas. However, no matter where you live, you need to water the soil if you see the ground pull away from your home’s foundation.
Soaker Hose Installation for Foundation Watering
Soaker hose is the easiest, most effective solution for managing ground contraction. This hose has numerous small pores that release water next to the soil. This minimizes evaporation while providing better coverage than a sprinkler. However, it only releases water directly over the ground where it’s placed. If you also need to water your lawn, you can use a combination of soaker hose and sprinklers for full coverage.
The best position for this hose is 20 to 24 inches away from the side of your building. You should never try to water a foundation directly. If cracks have already formed, the water will flow through them, collecting under the grade beam. This is the thickest part of the foundation, providing most of the load support. Once the soil underneath is saturated, it loses some of its load-bearing capacity. This can cause your foundation to shift more, making the problem worse. Moving the hose further away guarantees the water will percolate through the surrounding soil, spreading out expansion.
If there is a tree nearby, it will grow roots to reach the water, which in turn places those roots dangerously close to your foundation. You can keep the water from your hose from reaching the roots by installing a barrier. This is simply a trench filled with something solid, like plastic sheeting, to halt the growth of roots in that direction. If you want to add a tree to your property, talk to a horticulturist or an arborist first. This professional can tell you if you will have root problems and provide advice on planting distances to prevent foundation damage.
If you need your soaker hose foundation watering system to reach a building that doesn’t have a nearby spigot, use UV-resistant hoses like our MAXLite® or CoolTOUCH® hoses to connect the spigot to the soaker hose.
Our SoakerPRO® hose comes as a complete assembly in several different lengths. This lets you hook it up like a regular garden hose. If you want to create a soil watering system that perfectly fits your building, you can make one using our SoakerPRO® bulk reel kits. Just make sure the holes in the hose are facing the ground during installation.
Limiting the length of hose connected to each spigot increases water pressure, so it takes less time to water your soil. If you have spigots on the front and back of your house, divide your installation between these two water sources.
How To Water Your Foundation
Foundation watering isn’t just a matter of compensating for lack of rainfall. You are also compensating for the water demand of plants surrounding your home. One large tree can pull up to 150 gallons of water out of the soil per day.
Foundation watering typically does not fall under watering restrictions enacted in the summer or during times of drought. However, you may be limited to using your soaker system at night. Adding a faucet timer will let you turn the water on and off automatically. When watering isn’t restricted, try to run the system early in the morning to minimize evaporation.
Soaker hoses take longer to saturate the soil than sprinklers, but they use less water. Expect to run your hoses for 15 to 20 minutes per day, three to five days per week in peak summer heat. In drought conditions, you may need to water up to 45 minutes every day. This should keep the ground moist but not muddy. After a few days, the soil will expand and meet up with the side of the foundation.
All content provided in this article is for general informational purposes only. The need for watering around foundations is specific to each building and dependent on soil type, rainfall, and other factors that should be assessed by a professional prior to beginning a watering plan. Overwatering foundations can cause damage. All use of products referenced in this article should be done in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Watering Your Vegetable Garden the Right Way - Top Tips
Knowing how to properly water a vegetable garden is key to producing fresh and nutritious vegetables that enhance any meal. Cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and other garden delights need the right amount of water to mature into tasty treats. It is all too common for gardeners to go about the business of vegetable watering without a plan. Here are some top tips that will keep your garden producing and looking great all season.
The Importance of Water to Your Vegetables
The first step to correct watering of vegetable gardens is understanding the importance of water to your plants. The average vegetable is made up of more than 80 percent water. Some varieties, such as broccoli, lettuce and celery, exceed 90 percent in their water content. The obvious takeaway here is that a lack of water is the number one reason vegetable gardens fail to thrive.
It will help if you are able to accurately measure how much water your garden is receiving. The ideal scenario is to get a little bit of help from mother nature. Consistent rainfall will reduce the amount of watering you need to do, but you need to know how much water the garden is getting. Putting a rain gauge in the garden is a good way to monitor levels.
Also remember that gardens kept in the fall and winter require adequate watering, too. Just because you are growing in the cooler months doesn't mean the water needs aren't there. You may have to water less often due to the lack of heat, but you still need to keep an eye on the soil.
Use Hoses To Water Deeply
Vegetables and flowers have different structures and different watering requirements. With vegetables, the part of the plant you can see is far less important than what is happening below the ground. The root system of your vegetable plants is what matters most.
When water is consistently delivered to the roots of your vegetable plants, the roots are encouraged to grow and spread. A deeper, vaster root system means better conveyance of water to the uppermost parts of the vegetable. This delivery of water is what produces large, full vegetables.
The problem with using a sprinkler to water a vegetable garden is that the leaves and foliage of the plant are getting the most water. A
soaker hose will do a far better job of keeping the soil moist and letting water seep beneath. Like a sprinkler, you can place a soaker hose and let it do the work for you. These hoses can also be placed more effectively than sprinklers.
The Best Time of Day to Water a Vegetable Garden
Another problem with using sprinklers to water at various times of the day is that excess moisture on leaves can create health problems for plants. These issues can include diseases and fungus which will drastically affect the production of your garden.
The best practice for watering a vegetable garden is to go about the work early in the day. Watering in the early morning hours means you will lose less water as the air warms and evaporation occurs.
When you water vegetables during the morning hours, any water that accumulates on leaves will have the opportunity to dry. This means you will have healthier plants that require less maintenance.
Hand-Watering Is More Effective
If you don't want to use a soaker or drip hose for watering, you should still water your vegetables by hand. Every good gardener knows the importance of a good hose. You'll want to choose one that can withstand the elements, and length is also an important consideration.
Using a longer hose for hand-watering means you will be able to move the hose more easily between the rows of your garden. A short hose poses greater risk to the base of your plants as you move it from spot to spot.
When you water by hand, you have more control over directing the flow of water. You can also control the volume of water that is passing through the hose. It is best to water slowly with a small stream. A high volume of water will tend to run off while slower watering will penetrate the ground and make its way to those roots.
How Often Should You Water a Vegetable Garden?
There is a tendency for gardeners to water a little each day. This is much less efficient than watering two to three times each week. Watering deeper on a less-frequent schedule will give the water time to seep into the ground.
You should strive for placing about an inch of water once each week on your vegetable garden. This has long been the rule of thumb, but you should adjust that based on the climate where you live. Obviously, hotter climates with less rainfall will require more watering.
Taking care of your garden and raising healthy vegetables should be a fun endeavor. By using these tips for watering, you will save time and effort. That equals a more pleasant experience and better tasting food.
What Is a Soaker Hose and How Does It Work?
Efficient watering is a prime consideration for any homeowner who likes to garden. Many gardeners find that a garden soaker hose offers the maximum convenience and coverage. You will typically waste less water and save more time when you use a soaker hose to maintain your plants.
What Is a Soaker Hose?
A soaker hose is distinguished by its design. These hoses look like most other garden hoses, but there is a crucial difference. The soaker hose has tiny pores along its length that aren't that different from the pores on your skin. These pores allow water to slowly escape from the hose.
When a soaker hose is placed in your garden, the low water pressure allows an efficient flow from the hose directly to the base of the plants. This means that you are getting more water to the root system and less water in places where it will quickly evaporate.
Soaker hoses are convenient because they can be moved about with ease. You can also place them and allow the hose to do the work. Very little maintenance and observation of watering is required when you use a soaker hose.
How Does a Soaker Hose Work?
The porous material of a soaker hose allows water to seep out at an even, slow rate. This lets the water soak into the ground around the base of your plants where it is needed most.
You don't need any special type of equipment to use a garden soaker hose. It attaches to your outdoor spigot just like any other type. Soaker hoses also come in many lengths. You can buy them in 25', 50' or 100' varieties.
To use the soaker hose, you simply place it in the garden where it rests near the base of the plants. Once placed, it does not have to be moved unless you need coverage in multiple areas. You simply turn on the water and allow the hose to saturate the ground.
Does a soaker hose need pressure? Very little, in fact. The porous material of the hose does a great job of keeping the water pressure low. You may not even need to open your spigot all the way when using a soaker hose.
The Benefits of Garden Soaker Hoses
So does a soaker hose save water? The answer is yes. This type of hose will always deliver maximum efficiency when it comes to watering your garden. This is mostly due to how the water from a soaker hose is distributed.
When you water with a sprinkler or by hand, you likely use more water than necessary. Most of the water that you apply in this fashion never reaches the root system; it is instead delivered to the leaves of the plants, where it can cause problems like mold and rot.
All the water delivered by a soaker hose goes right to the area near the root system of your plants. It can be easily absorbed as needed to keep your plants healthy.
We mentioned convenience as another advantage of using a soaker hose. The busy life of today's homeowner means that many people have little time for gardening. The need to monitor the water disbursement of a regular garden hose with or without a sprinkler is time-consuming.
Once you have placed a soaker hose in your garden, you only need to turn it on for a certain period of time to achieve the results you desire. You don't need to stay and monitor how the water flows, and you don't even have to move the hose.
For most gardeners, a soaker hose can put the joy back into cultivating beautiful plants. You'll spend more time enjoying your garden and less time fretting over watering when you use a soaker.