Garden Watering Equipment | Water Sprinkler Systems
Choosing Garden Watering Equipment
You won’t need a lot of expensive watering equipment for the average-sized garden. The simplest irrigation system is a watering can, but you will be surprised at how quickly a couple of gallons of water can disappear into parched , necessitating several trips to and from the garden tap.
A watering can however, is best for localized watering of newly planted or specimen items; too little water is often worse than no water at all as it discourages deep and healthy root growth.
A better solution is to use a hosepipe, ideally fitted with an on / off control at the spurting end so you can turn the supply on and off as you work your way round the garden. But hand watering can be time-consuming — it may take several hours to water a large garden properly.
Water Sprinkler Systems
Better still, you can connect your hosepipe to a garden sprinkler to create a water sprinkler system — either a simple static rotary type or one of the more sophisticated oscillating or pulsating types, some of which will also travel across lawns. The advantage of even the simplest type of water sprinkler system over hand watering is the volume of water it can deliver unattended, but there is the drawback of having to extend and rearrange the hose run as you water different parts of the garden.
The perfect answer is a permanent in-ground watering system or garden irrigation system, which can be turned on and off as required to deliver precisely the right amount of water exactly where it is required. Such irrigation systems are a common sight on golf courses and in some public parks, but there is no reason why you should not install an irrigation system in your garden.
Watering cans are available in many shapes, sizes and colours, and can be plastic or galvanized metal. Spouts,and handles vary according to brand. Some watering cans have detachable roses with alternative spray patterns — giving a fine, medium or coarse spray. Push-on replacement rubber roses, usually with a brass face, can be bought separately. If you intend to use the can to apply weedkillers, choose one with gradation markings to help you dilute quantities accurately. Two-handled cans are easier to balance, and for inaccessible places are easier to manoeuvre. When watering-in large plants, remove the rose and use the open-ended spout, holding it close to the planting hole.
Hosepipes provide a convenient means of applying a large amount of water to the garden with minimal effort. You can make do with a simple open-ended hose, using your thumb to regulate the flow of water, but you can greatly improve its versatility by buying a range of special hose fittings. Start with a tap connector so the hose won’t keep falling off at the garden tap. Threaded types are best if the tap nozzle has an external thread; otherwise go for one with a worm-drive clip.
The nozzle secured to the other end of the hose can be adjusted to give various spray patterns or a single jet. Adjust the tap to give the appropriate pressure. Lance and pistol-type nozzles are also available which incorporate an on / off valve — useful if you want to water selectively.
To avoid dragging the hose inadvertently across plants, insert short stakes at the corners of flower and vegetable beds. Slip a length of plastic pipe over each stake to form a guide roller.
Hosepipe is sold in various lengths — 15m (16-1/2yd) and 30m (33yd) are most common — and in 13mm (1/2in) or 19mm (3/4in) diameter (internal). Most are flexible, sturdy and weather resistant.
You can connect lengths of hose together with both straight and T-couplers (the latter allow you to run branch pipes, so you can water the lawn and theat the same time). The most versatile types are known as automatic connectors and come in male and female parts, rather like electrical flex connectors. With these it is a simple matter to unplug and reconnect individual sections of hose, change nozzles at will or fit sprinklers of various patterns.
Some hose connectors incorporate what is known as a water stop; this cuts off the flow of water through that section of hose if you disconnect the coupler, which is useful if you want to change components without having to walk back to the tap. However, water-stop connectors can cause water hammer in the pipework supplying the hose.
Lastly, you have a choice of spray nozzles and guns, many of which incorporate a trigger or other on / off control. Types of spray guns or nozzles giving a fine spray are best, since soil can absorb small droplets more quickly than a coarse spray and you are also less likely to damage delicate young plants or injure developing flower buds.
Sprinklers are available in many types. Attached to a hose pipe instead of a nozzle, they water the garden while you get on with something else. By applying a fine spray over a long period you can thoroughly moisten the soil without creating puddles and surface capping. Leave the sprinkler on until every area has had at least 2.5cm (1in) of water — stand jam jars in the spray area to check the amount. Lawns andin particular are best watered in this way.
You can set up two or more water sprinklers at once. Use Y-connectors to join hoses; water-stop end caps turn off one branch hose until required. Water timer units are also available, though the price is high — you dial in the watering time required, set the pattern and the sprinkling is then automatic, turning off when the watering is completed.
Simple static garden sprinklers are the cheapest, and can often be mounted on an extender pole to allow them to be used among tall plants, but their circular spray pattern makes it difficult to get even coverage on lawns. Rotating types generally cover a larger area and can often be adjusted to vary the area covered from a narrow wedge shape to a full circle. Oscillating types deliver water in a rectangular pattern, which may be preferable if you have a square or rectangular lawn.