Nifty new nozzle multiplies fun of watering by seven

July 22, 2006|By ROB KASPER

On most hot summer weekends if I have a hose in my hand I am happy.

Watering the tomatoes, washing the car or dousing the hanging plants delivers moments of cool comfort plus a feeling of mission accomplished. And, of course, as any kid can tell you, playing with the hose is terrific fun.

Lately my watering duties have taken an exciting turn as I become acquainted with the delights offered by my new, seven-spray pattern, trigger nozzle. This nozzle, also known as a pistol grip, works simply by squeezing it with your hand. When you apply pressure to the trigger, water shoots out of the nozzle head, when you release it, the water stops flowing.

A few weeks ago my old trigger nozzle began misfiring. It would spray me when I set it on the ground. It also leaked, soaking my shoes. Besides being irritating, this bad behavior was an affront to my pride.

I tried to plug the leak. I tried replacing the washer in the nozzle, but water still streamed from its base. I inspected the end of the hose and saw that the metal male coupling was bent, preventing a snug fit with the nozzle.

I tried the traditional male remedy - force - squeezing the coupling back into shape with slip-joint pliers. That failed, so I opted for surgery, slicing off the faulty coupling and replacing it with a new one.

Life is full of choices, and as I stared at the severed hose, I asked myself "plastic or brass?" Those are the two types of material used to make replacement couplings. The plastic is easier to install but it looks cheesy. The brass is more expensive, but classy looking.

The guys who work in Belle Hardware, my neighborhood hardware store, talked me into springing for the brass coupling. One of the benefits of frequenting a neighborhood hardware store is that over time the folks who work there get to know your sense of style, as well as your weaknesses. When Mickey Fried waved that shiny brass replacement coupling in front of my eyes, I was a goner.

Later, when I couldn't get the brass coupling to fit the hose, I tossed the hose in the back of the station wagon, and drove over to the hardware store. Mickey came out of the store and showed me how the deed was done. This was more proof that neighborhood hardware stores and neighborhood taverns are what keep this country ticking.

Once the coupling was in place, I treated myself to a new trigger nozzle. This beauty, from the Melnor Titanium series, had a rotating head. It enabled me to send out streams of water in not one or two, but seven different configurations or spray patterns.

I screwed the nozzle onto the hose and stood out in the backyard, rotating between the settings for jet, flat, center, cone, soaker, mist and shower. Life was good. Since I wasn't sure exactly what I was supposed to do with each of these settings, I began reading up on trigger nozzles and correct watering techniques.

The trigger nozzle, I learned, is held in high regard by advocates of water conservation. The old, twist-style nozzles are regarded as water wasters because they can't shut off the flow of water. But a properly functioning trigger nozzle is efficient, delivering water only on demand.

In some communities in Australia where water is scarce, I read, trigger nozzles are required garden hose wear. In Melbourne, if you are caught washing your car without a trigger nozzle, you could, I read, be subject to a fine up to $1,000.

Although trigger nozzles don't waste water, they are not, I learned, the recommended way to water your lawn or garden.

The preferred watering method is to either use a soaker hose, which is a porous hose, or a sprinkler. That is what the treatise on yard and garden water management written by the experts at the Montana State University Extension Service (available on the Web site mon, keyword "watering") told me.

Instead of light, daily watering with a nozzle, your lawn and garden should be given a lengthy watering session, once every 10 days or so, with a sprinkler or soaker hose. This soaking style of watering encourages development of deep root systems, the experts said.

I learned other fine points of watering. I learned that if you are using a soaker hose, which does not get foliage wet, the best time to water is in the cool evening so the soil has all night to absorb the water. But if you are using a sprinkler, you should water early in the morning or late afternoon so that the wet foliage will dry before nightfall. The worse time to water, the experts said, are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in full sun, when much of the water will evaporate.

The experts outlined two methods, one using a spade and one an empty can, to measure how much water is getting in your soil.

With the spade method, you water for two hours then sink the spade in the ground and check the soil for moisture.

Or, the experts said, you could place an empty can near an active sprinkler and see how long it takes to fill the can with 1 inch of water. When the water level hits the recommended 1-inch mark, you move the sprinkler.

These experts said nothing about the joy that comes from making an empty can dance, seven ways to Sunday, with the spray from a new trigger nozzle. But I highly recommend it.

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