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Garden Hoses: No Rain? No Sweat!

by Jon Nunan

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In some areas, an outdoor water hose is more than just a convenience; it's a way of life. It keeps flowers healthy, kids happy, and vehicles show room sharp. Whether you want a green lawn or a clean car, a garden hose is an excellent tool to keep your property looking its best.

Types of Water Hoses
Some of us are all too familiar with the green plastic tangle that used to pass for an irrigation tool. Thankfully, today's homeowner has a much better selection of garden hoses to meet their individual needs.

The first, most well known type of hose is the rubber (usually green) garden hose. Aside from the tangling issues, the biggest problem with these hoses is the wide range of both prices and quality. It is difficult to know if the rubber hose you purchase will be durable, flexible, or tough enough for the job you have in mind until you actually bring it home. Most water hose problems are caused by kinks, and a poor quality rubber model will get plenty of them. Those looking for a hose that will only be used once in a while, then put away promptly and carefully might be okay with whatever they purchase, but the constant gardener should, at the very least, opt for the heavy-duty model.

Flat garden hoses are becoming more and more popular and for good reason. They are easier to put away and store than conventional hoses, and still come in a wide variety of lengths. Firefighters have been using flat hoses for years because of these very reasons. They are more expensive than most round hoses, but are less likely to kink. Flat water hoses often come on a spool or real for convenience. Beware, though, that only some of these will operate properly while coiled; others will need to be mostly or completely uncoiled to work well.

A lesser known variety of water hose is the spring coil. Its truly ingenious design wraps a relatively long hose around a relatively short spring in a spiral fashion. As you walk with the nozzle, the spring and the hose uncoil. When you let go, they retract to a very manageable length. While using one of these might get a little tedious over a large area, they are perfect for small plots of land or patio and deck watering.

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Garden Hose Care
The best way to maximize the life of your garden hose is to roll it up and put it away properly after every use. This reduces the amount of kinks and, in colder climates, will keep the hose from freezing (which can cause penetration of the lining and holes in the hose). It will also keep it from being repeatedly run over by vehicles (not a big problem for some hoses), or, even worse, lawnmowers (a big problem for most hoses).

Realistically, though, some situations require using a hose once or even multiple times a day. Rolling and unrolling that hose can, after a while, become a very unpalatable chore. If you are in that kind of situation, it's best to just buy the highest quality, most durable hose possible. You should still put it away, however, whenever a freeze (or lawnmower) is expected.
Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.
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