Hose, Sprinklers, and Couplings

HOSE

Garden hose is a staple item. The gallons of water a hose will carry is determined by three factors-size, length and available water pressure. Most manufacturers have charts giving this information.

The inside diameter of the hose determines its efficiency.

Low-priced, promotional hoses, usually 1/2" diameter, deliver 9 gal. per minute (gpm), and higher quality hoses with 5/8" diameter deliver 17 gpm. A 3/4" hose delivers 23 gpm, almost three times what a 1/2" hose delivers. The larger the inside diameter of the hose, the less pressure loss over any distance. If the pressure is low (under 40 psi), the hose is running uphill, or is extra long, then the largest size hose available should be used to minimize pressure loss in the hose line.

To prevent premature cracking, hose should never be kinked or bent sharply either in use or in storage. Hose should be stored in season by coiling it on a wide bracket, hose hanger or reel, never by hanging it on a sharp nail or hook.

Before winter, drain all water from the hose, and then store it inside in coils. Use a small brush to clean out fittings threads prior to winter storage.

Never tug on hose when trying to eliminate a kink. This can cause the kink to permanently set in. Kinks should always be worked out by hand. Inexpensive hoses have a greater tendency to kink due to their thin walls, and frequently sprout leaks at those kink points.

Rubber Hose reinforced with tire cord fiber, generally nylon or polyester, and other additives has good resistance to weathering, cracking and ozone deterioration. A top quality hose can be shut off at the nozzle without bursting. Promotional lines have less reinforcement material.

Couplings should be full-flow, meaning internally expanded to maintain inside diameter for better water flow.

Most reinforced rubber hose can be used with hot water.

Rubber-Vinyl Hose - Although all rubber-vinyl hose is reinforced with tire cord fiber, there are two basic kinds in use.

One uses an expanded (or foamed) cover containing tiny air cells, similar to a fine sponge, giving it a softer feel, easier handling and more kink resistance.

The other has an extruded (non-foam) cover; it offers good flexibility but not as much as the expanded cover type. However, it is just as durable and has more dirt and abrasion resistance.

Vinyl Hose - "Reinforced vinyl" is the preferred generic name for vinyl hose, although a great deal of non-reinforced vinyl hose is sold.

The variables in vinyl hose include cover type (clear or opaque), reinforcement (knit or belted), foamed or non-foamed layers, wall thickness, burst-pressure rating and couplings.

Reinforcement is the primary factor in vinyl hose quality. Other factors, such as the tube compound material used in manufacturing, also affect the quality of the hose.

Burst-pressure rating depends most on reinforcement. Best quality hoses have two layers of belted bias radial or spiral and knit reinforcement.

Burst pressure should be at least four times the average faucet pressure to allow for surge pressures, use with pistol nozzles, etc. Burst strength depends upon the combination of reinforcement and the tube wall gauge. Lower-quality hoses typically have a burst rating of 200 psi, medium quality 275-350 psi, and high quality 350-500 psi.

Couplings should be internally expanded type to allow full inside diameter to be used; externally crimped couplings tend to restrict water flow.

"Wing connector nuts" make attaching hose to faucet very easy.

Non-reinforced vinyl hose is adequate for "open service" only and is suitable for use with rotary or oscillating sprinklers. Because of its low burst pressure, nozzles, pulsating sprinklers or any accessories with integral shut-off valves are not recommended.

Flat Hose lies flat until water pressure rounds it into 5/8" hose. A prime feature is that flat hose stores more easily and more compactly than conventional hose.

Flat hose must be completely extended before water will pass through it and it must be completely drained before storing.

There are two types of flat hose. One is made of a polyurethane liner and a tightly woven polyester jacket. The higher quality product has the liner bonded to the jacket to reduce kinking and leaking.

The other type is similar to conventional, reinforced vinyl hose, yet is flat when empty and expands when water is added. It is not as small as the first type but has excellent wear resistance and is half the size of conventional hose.

Once rounded, flat hose performs exactly like ordinary hose, delivering the same amount of water as a regular 5/8" hose. Weight is about one-third that of conventional hose; but because it is self-draining (provided the nozzle or sprinkler end is left open), it retains less water than ordinary hose (which may hold as much as 6 lbs. of water in each 50' length).

It requires 20 psi to round out (home water pressure is 40-60 psi) and is able to withstand normal treatment. Because it drains itself, it is less susceptible to freezing and cracking.

Flat hose will return to flat shape after repeated uses, will not wear on edges, will not crack around fittings and has comparable burst strength to conventional hose.

Some flat hose is packed in a cassette that holds the hose, allows it to be pulled out for use and retracts for storage. The cassette can be hooked to the water source for use and hung in garage or basement for storage. A hose cassette is ordinarily used only for handling and storage. If the hose remains in the cassette during use, the pressure of the expanding hose could damage it.

HOSE HANGERS AND REELS

Hose hangers and reels provide compact and efficient hose storage.

Hangers are inexpensive and mount on the side of a house or garage for draping hose loosely.

Reels are more complex. All have rotary action which unrolls and re-rolls hose. Some are mounted on house or garage wall while others ride on a caddy which connects water supply to hose. A quality reel will have easy flowing construction in the leader hose that attaches to faucet and leak-proof design.

ROOT FEEDERS

Root feeders water and feed trees, shrubs, bushes and other plants by injecting pre-measured plant food (or plain water) into the ground at root level.

The feeder consists of a container for plant food concentrate, a tube to carry liquid into the ground and a coupling to connect the unit to garden hose. After the container is loaded, the spiked tube is sunk in ground under outer leaves of plant-full length for established trees, half-length for newly planted trees and shrubs, 8" for borders and shallow-rooted plants. Feeding solution seeps into ground to roots of plants.

Although primarily for feeding plants, root feeders can also be used to apply systemic insecticides-to nonfood plants only.

Fluidic lawn feeders fertilize at the same time the lawn is watered. After connecting the feeder (a cartridge of concentrated, water-soluble fertilizer) to any lawn sprinkler, it evenly distributes the fertilizer with the stream of water from the sprinkler.

SPRINKLERS

There are five general types of sprinklers: stationary, rotary, oscillating, pulsating or impulse and traveling. The type and size of coverage needed and price range will determine which sprinkler you should purchase.

Stationary Sprinklers - Most fixed sprinklers spray water through a pattern of holes in the top of the sprinkler. The size, shape and pattern of these holes, and water pressure, determine the area covered. Generally, they are the lowest cost sprinklers. Smaller lawn or garden areas are watered quickly and effectively by stationary sprinklers.

Stationary sprinklers include a variety of designs. These include rings, full- and half-circle, which spray water through two or three rows of holes along the top edge for a circular pattern; salt shaker types with a single pattern on a sled or spike; multiple salt shaker patterns on a turret which can be set to different patterns such as square, rectangle, strips or circles, and swirling type spot sprinklers.

Oscillating Sprinklers - Oscillating sprinklers spray multiple streams of water out of openings in a spray tube that "oscillates" back and forth, watering a rectangular pattern. Traditional designs use curved aluminum tubes. However, recent designs use corrosion-free, molded straight tubes with jets set at progressive angles. Oscillators water medium to large areas and are one of the most popular designs. They are widely promoted and, as a result, price points vary widely.

Important features affecting performance include the length of the tube, the number of spray openings (usually 13-19 as coverage increases), and if the tube has spray jet nozzles (nozzles control the jet of water for longer throw). Coverage varies from 1,600 sq. ft. or less up to 4,000 sq. ft. To get these coverages, use at least a 5/8" hose and have a minimum of 40 psi water pressure available, smaller hoses or less pressure reduce coverage significantly. However, recent design changes on some models allow full operation at lower water pressures.

Pattern adjustments are usually full sweep, left, right, or center.

Units with multi-position dials allow fine tuning coverage settings between these basic settings.

Pulsating (Impulse) Sprinklers - Pulsating sprinklers are the most efficient and versatile. A pulsator operates on lower pressure, yet will discharge more water in a given period of time and cover a greater area than other sprinklers. The spray is strong and close to the ground, making it wind-resistant. The large orifice prevents clogging, unlike oscillator holes.

Pulsators are manufactured in a number of materials-brass, zinc, aluminum, plastic, stainless steel and combinations. Top-of-the-line units offer four advantages:

  1. Baffle plate - controls height of stream to allow sprinkling under low tree branches, etc.
  2. Diffuser pin - adjusts water stream from full jet to fine mist by screwing the pin into or out of the stream.
  3. Part circle operation - manually spaced adjustment rings allow user to select narrow segment or almost full-circle operation.
  4. Full-circle operation - moving reverse pin away from the adjustment rings allows sprinkler to operate in a full-circle pattern (no reverse action occurs).

Promotional pulsators have fewer of these "convenience" features and generally use a combination of materials.

Rotary Sprinklers - Rotary sprinklers spray water from the tips of two or three spray arms that spin as the sprinkler waters the lawn. These spray arms may have fixed or adjustable tips. Designed for watering small- to medium-sized areas, rotary sprinkler prices range widely.

Deluxe units provide three adjustments: mist or jet spray by turning the nozzles; spray diameter by swiveling the nozzles inward or outward; stationary watering by the use of a locking collar.

Traveling Sprinklers - Traveling sprinklers are self-propelled to cover large, irregular areas. There are basically two types: wind-up and tractor. A shutoff valve is a desirable feature on either type. Watering is done by two arms like a rotary sprinkler and width of coverage can be changed by adjusting these arms.

Wind-up units follow a cord laid out by the user, have two speeds and large hose capacities.

Tractor units drag the hose behind them as they follow the hose pattern. Deluxe units are heavier (allowing greater range) and have two speeds.

OTHER WATERING DEVICES

Tandem sprinklers - usually come as sets of three spiked heads. They can be used to simulate an underground system by attaching them between short sections of hose.

Distance of water throw is governed by water pressure. Heads can be used individually or all at once. Water is discharged in a circular motion.

Nozzles - are an important part of the accessories business. Two types are generally offered-pistol or lever nozzles and straight nozzles-in either metal or plastic.

Pistol nozzles adjust spray patterns from a fine mist to a solid stream to full flow by squeezing the handle, or by turning an adjusting screw, dial or by using a multi-position clip. Plastic valves and/or stems are often used because they do not corrode, but metal stems are available. Deluxe units are usually larger and heavier with molded hand grip, thumbguard and fully adjustable spray patterns. Some units use a dial control for fixed spray patterns.

Straight nozzles are usually brass, die-cast zinc or plastic. Deluxe models use O-rings to seal off the waterflow, protect the inside adjustment threads and allow smoother and easier spray adjustment.

Water timers or meters - can be attached to hose to control sprinkling. Set timer for number of inches needed; it will compensate for changes in pressure and turn the sprinkler off when preset amount is reached. Pre-settings operate from 100 to 1,500 gal. Some timers can be preset to operate for a certain amount of time, regardless of the amount of water discharged.

Soil soakers - are now being manufactured of vinyl or reprocessed rubber and are replacing traditional canvas hoses for softly soaking the ground with water. Water is fed in at low pressure and then seeps out of the hose through thousands of tiny holes at a very slow rate. These hoses save significant amounts of water when compared to conventional sprinklers. Used to water shrubs, trees or gardens. Hose can be run on top of ground, under mulch or buried, and will last for years.

Flexible triple-tube or two-tube sprinkler soakers - vinyl soaker, with two or three tubular channels, lies flat on one side for spray watering; when turned over becomes soaker. Spreads water evenly at low pressure.

Spray hose - flat plastic hose in 20 to 50 lengths with fine perforations throughout entire length. Creates rain-like spray for flower beds or bird areas.

Fan-type hand sprinklers - have small round holes that allow a fine, gentle spray. Excellent for new seed beds and delicate flowers. Some have a spike that allows unattended use.

Rain spout lawn protectors - attach to downspouts to channel rainwater away from house foundation. Rainwater from downspout forces protector to uncoil, sprinkling water uniformly over the immediate area through tiny holes in the hose. Some will recoil automatically when water pressure subsides; others must be re-rolled by hand. All are heavy-duty vinyl, available in several lengths.

Back flow protector - prevents reverse flow of water and contaminants sucked back into plumbing pipes through unprotected hoses. Protector is plastic or brass vacuum breaker that fits between the threaded faucet and hose. Most plumbing codes require that non-removable breakers be used; they must be drained in winter to avoid freezing.

WATERING SYSTEMS

Underground Sprinklers - Many homeowners prefer the convenience of timed and pre- measured lawn watering provided by underground sprinklers. The development of systems for do-it-yourself installation have brought underground sprinkler costs into the range of many family budgets.

A basic system can be installed in an afternoon. The system offers these benefits:

Water savings because sprinkler heads apply water at the rate of a gentle rain.

Reduce water loss from erosive run-off. System can be preset to operate at those hours when evaporation from wind and sun is minimal, when demand on water supply is lowest.

System is freeze-proof and can be winterized quickly.

Sprinkler heads are mounted flush with the ground, out of the way of mowing equipment and children.

Component parts, also packaged in kits, are:

Electric control center - runs the system from any 110 V outlet.

Simple adjustment permits watering schedule to be changed. Can be scheduled to water as often as five times per day, as little as once every other day.

Sprinklers - wave and automatic pop-up. Special heads, such as bubblers and fixed spray, are also available for specific watering tasks.

Pipe and control tubing - flexible and freeze-proof. Can be slit into the ground with little disturbance to the lawn.

Valve assembly - system attaches to a hose faucet in seconds.

A basic system can be added to without uprooting equipment already installed. This building block concept permits homeowners to establish large custom-designed installations over several years.

Don't overlook potential sale of underground systems to schools, golf courses, parks, apartment complexes and industrial grounds.

A good complete commercial underground system has both gear-driven and fixed spray to custom water turfgrass and special plantings. Precise turf maintenance is accomplished by matching precipitation rates and positioning sprinklers according to the water requirements for each lawn and garden area (full sun, shaded, special plantings, hilly terrain).

Drip Irrigation systems are placed close to plant roots to water slowly, replacing only the moisture the plant uses daily.

Confining the watered area to the root zone saves water-as much as 50 to 70 percent. Weeds are not encouraged to grow and nutrients are not washed from the soil.

A drip irrigation system is installed on top of the soil.

The key fitting is the emitter, which has a small orifice and is fitted into a flexible hose. It emits about one gallon of water per hour.

Other parts include piping to run from the water source to the garden and from there to each plant or row of plants.

The hose can be laid beneath the ground but most users leave it above the ground and remove it at the end of the season.

COUPLINGS AND HOSE MENDERS

Small hose leaks are usually simple repairs. On a rubber hose, apply a layer of plastic rubber compound, allow it to dry, then rub lightly with fine sandpaper. Apply a second coat covering a slightly larger area to insure a lasting patch.

Small leaks in plastic hose can be cemented with a plastic adhesive, then reinforced by wrapping with plastic tape or applying a plastic patch. Dab the cement on and wait until it gets sticky, then wrap with tape or press patch into place. When this is hard, apply a second layer of cement on top of the patch.

While these repair methods are still used, many consumers are turning to inexpensive plastic couplings to repair even small leaks. Metal couplings made of sheet and/or rod brass have always been used for sizeable leaks or badly split sections of hose, but the plastic couplings can be used on large or small leaks.

One plastic hose mender kit includes a barbed tubular insert and clam shell-shaped clamps that can be used on either plastic or rubber hose. The defective section of hose is cut out, the two hose pieces are pushed over the barbed tubular insert and the clamps are screwed around the outside of the hose. Damaged male or female hose couplings can also be repaired with this system.

Metal clincher couplings have metal cleats around a brass insert. After the hose is pushed over the insert, the cleats are pounded down with a hammer or crimped with pliers to hold the hose. It is important to crimp the cleats evenly or the repair leaks. These clinchers are also available as menders for male or female ends. They can be used on rubber or plastic hoses. However, for plastic hose a compression fitting with a threaded collar is better because it is less likely to puncture the outer covering.

Sometimes in metal hose repair a steel worm gear clamp is used to hold the hose to the insert. On plastic hose, a tapered brass bushing may be screwed into the inside of the hose to wedge it against the hose repair coupling. This bushing can be taken off and used again.

Another mender for plastic hose is a tube that is inserted into the hose and sleeves are screwed over the hose. This system is also removable and reusable.

In all cases, whatever type of mender or coupling is needed, be sure the hose has been sized correctly as most systems come in several standard hose sizes.

CONNECTORS

Connectors link garden hoses and watering devices to the home water source, connect sections of hoses, provide linkage for sprinkling devices. Usually made of plastic or brass, they serve several functions. Some simply connect one hose to another; others, primarily those that connect to a sprinkler or nozzle, provide a built-in shutoff valve.

"Y" connectors, with or without shutoff valves, attach to the water supply to control two hoses at the same time.

PONDSCAPING
The latest use for underground water systems is in the decoration of garden ponds. With the introduction of tough, puncture-resistant PVC liners and performed fiberglass shells, just about anyone who wants a pond can have one.
The latest expensive pool to build is one using 20- or 32-millimeter "fish grade" PVC liner. Fiberglass shells, however, are easier to install, but cost twice as much. Fiberglass will last indefinitely; whereas, PVC liners have a lifespan of about 10 years. Underground sprinkler systems make an attractive addition to the pond, along with lights, plants, fish and even water lilies.
PLANT PESTS
Most pests do their damage by sucking the sap from plants, weakening them and excreting honeydew on which mold grows. Following are descriptions of the more common household plant pests.
- Sluggish insects often called "plant lice," they suck the sap of plants, discoloring and deforming them. Winged and wingless, depending on stage of development.
- These microscopic orange/green insects are especially dangerous because they breed so quickly and cause such great damage. Attaching to most kinds of plants, they spin fine webs on the underside of the leaves and suck the juices.
- These hard or soft, oval or round slow-moving insects are often hard to identify and resemble colored blisters on the plant. Protected when mature by tough scale coating. Color depends on species. Sucks plant sap and excretes honeydew, weakening plant.
- Oval; covered with a mealy, waxy substance; gather in sheltered corners of the plant and suck the sap. Attack almost every kind of plant, especially African violets.
- these worms, also sap-suckers, produce hard swellings on the plant which vary in shape according to the type of plant. Symptoms are slow growth; pale, yellow leaves. Sterile soil is the best prevention. Infected plants and soil should be burned.
- Tiny fly-like insects. Harmless to plants, but a nuisance. Severe infestation of maggots can damage plant roots.
- These sucking insects feed on juices and plant tissue. Indoor thrips like gloxinias.
- Adults look like miniature moths. Cluster on underside of leaves. Like begonias, citrus, fuchsias, geraniums. Also suck sap. Adults difficult to control.
WHEN TO WATER OUTDOOR PLANTS
Most plants want moist (but not soggy) soil around their roots all the time. In the spring, too frequent and too shallow watering makes roots rise to the top of the soil for moisture; this discourages deep root growth and leads to survival problems during hot summer months.
Deep-watered plants will have long, deep-seated roots that will find moisture beneath the surface when the sun has baked the ground.
In summer, apply water when the temperature is moderate and when the wind is calm-not in hot sunshine or strong wind that will immediately evaporate the water and leave the soil harder than if it had never been watered.
The rate of penetration into the soil is very important. Water should be applied no faster than the soil surface is able to absorb it. This is determined by the rate of application, hose size, length of hose, water pressure, the water head and the type of soil. Sand has coarse particles and will absorb water faster. Clay particles are much finer and absorb water at a slower rate. As a general rule, the faster the soil absorbs water, the more frequently it needs to be watered.
If you live in a region that has fairly strong, constant wind, recommend a sprinkler with a low, moderate to heavy spray; otherwise the homeowner can lose up to 40 percent of the water.
Night watering can be recommended because water pressures are higher, winds calmer and temperatures lower to reduce evaporation if the sprinkler has a timer or meter or the homeowner is willing to watch the watering so that the soil isn't overwatered.

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