giveaway: i hate to water, but met a hose to love

sprinkler on stool
IHATE TO WATER, but unless the heavens provide an inch a week, it requires human intervention on these two hilly acres with thousands of plants, a well that is understandably precious and limited, and no irrigation system beyond a few basic spigots to connect to. Lately, we’ve been blessed locally with extra rain; any day now, it could be hose-dragging time—which isn’t as bad as it used to be since I finally found a hose I can handle (and you can, too, if you win one of two I’ve bought to share).

First, a disclaimer, since my old-style journalistic policy is not to accept samples of garden products or plants, even for my giveaways, and because I almost never write about a product:

I got my first length of this particular hose when it was a prototype, in an inadvertent swap with the man developing it. Jeff Thomas of Water Right Inc. emailed me when I left my job and started A Way to Garden; he’d heard I was consulting, and wondered if I might be free to help with something. We met, and though we never did work together, that morning I swapped some of my ideas for a bagel, tea—and a piece of the most unusual-looking garden hose I’d ever seen.

I know more than the average gardener about garden hose, because at Martha Stewart, I worked intensively with manufacturers on her original K-Mart line. Plus, I own many, many hundreds of feet of hose, all of which I thought was top quality to match my tough site—but I nevertheless have been dissatisfied with every foot.

Even the very best—sporting claims like “kink-free” and multiple “ply” (the layers of reinforcing materials that make up the tube, up to eight of them), or better-than-average fittings (still mostly junk), and maybe even dyed a color that didn’t make my teeth ache–even with all those improvements, hose is my least-favorite tool.  In fact, I blame traditional garden hose design for my bad relationship with the chore of watering.

It’s just too heavy (especially “kink-free,” since attempts at reducing kinking typically add weight). Though it’s often hot when I need to water, I am not built like a fireman, and lugging hundred-foot lengths to set sprinklers in one spot after another is no fun.

Worse than kinking, it gets damaged wherever a kink tries to happen. Ever notice how once you crease a hose too far, that spot will be where creases occur again and again? No coincidence. When you bend multi-ply hose beyond a certain point, you actually damage all those layers, and leave a memory in the material, a weak point.

And by then it has already also probably started to leak near the connectors because the fittings were cheaply made, and it’s time for repair…or what most people do instead: haul it off to the dumpster. Do we really need more “disposable” PVC products in our lives?

SO IN 2008, THERE I WAS with this attractive olive-colored, narrow, almost weightless length of prototype hose from Jeff Thomas, thinking: What a nice man, but this must be just another garden-product gimmick, right? This looks too sleek to actually work.

Obviously the punchline is that it wasn’t a gimmick (or I wouldn’t be giving away two hoses). When Water Right started selling its Slim & Light line, I ordered more, and am gradually retiring my old clunkers as they give out.

All of Water Right’s hoses (they make coil hoses as well, for smaller jobs) have some unseen features. They are drinking-water safe (most hoses contain and leach lead and other chemicals), made of polyurethane, not PVC, a stronger material requiring fewer “ply.” They have machined fittings made of solid brass plated in chrome. They’re made in the United States, and even come in nice colors (including a new blue shade called “sunken pool” that Martha Stewart selected.

Even though the hoses are really slender and lightweight, at just 1 ounce per foot—meaning a 50-footer weighs just 3 pounds—they deliver 4 to 5 gallons per minute, plenty to run my sprinkler (and a slightly wider diameter model is being introduced in July). Speaking of which, if I can just find a sprinkler that I really love just as much…watering might be not so bad after all.

By the way, that’s my favorite piece of watering gear in the photo up top: an old metal kitchen stool from the tag sales. I use it to prop up a sprinkler to do small beds here and there around the yard, when placing the sprinkler on the ground just sprays the water right into the foliage and flowers.

How to Win 1 of 2 50-Foot Hoses

BY COMMENTING BELOW, you enter to win one of two Water Right 50-foot Slim & Light hoses that I will purchase for you (you can choose your favorite color). All you have to do:
Tell me your take on watering: love it, hate it, have any secrets to it? I know that Americans are suffering every extreme this year, from record drought to record flooding, but if there ever is a “normal” year in your garden, how do you grapple with your watering chores? (Or you can tell us how bad things are in your garden and area because of water troubles; complaints are fine, too.)

You know me: I won’t count you out if you just want to say “I want to win” or something to that effect. If you have any watering tips or rants—all the better.

I’ll choose the two winners after entries close at midnight, Sunday July 3. Good luck to all.

  1. My main two beefs with hoses are the “fako-cako” green colors they come in, and the connection points at the spigot that always seem to leak. Those turquoise green colors are so obtrusive in the garden and against the house, I want my hoses to camouflage and disappear. The drips might be because I tug too hard to get that last couple of inches closer to my plants, then the brass connections start dribbling. I use plumbers tape and fresh washers to help a bit, but I have quit expecting a drip free connection. Why can’t manufacturers take the inevitable tugging into consideration and make a better joint between rubber and brass? I also hate the coiled memory in a hose after leaving it on the reel attached to my house, it takes several skipping rope swings to get it straight so I can stretch it out fully. I would love a lightweight tan or beige hose, 50’ long, with a 5/8” interior opening, good water pressure, strong fittings and drip free guarantee.

  2. Sandy Mullins says:

    I would, of course, like to win. We live in Virginia, in the country. My soil is 4.4 pH and needs constant amendment. Water is from our well, so precious. I can’t walk anymore but do whatever possible in the garden. Pulling heavy hose via my scooter is difficult, especially on hills where I try not to turn over from the weight. Watering is a real pain but I sit looking out the kitchen window at whatever I’m able to maintain and enjoy the view. A lighter hose, maybe faster watering, would be a true blessing. Thank you! Happy gardening!

  3. Shawn Hamill says:

    I’ve been using the Water Right hoses around my place in Sonoma County, CA. I love them. We have had one stretched to our 2nd floor deck for 7 years constantly on all year long. (it gets down to about 27 degrees at the coldest at nignt in the winter) It has never kinked or split the entire time. We are just a flip of the nozzle lever and ready to water the pots when ever we want. It is wonderfully light wieght even with it full of water. I have just given them away as presents to my avid gardener friends to get them hooked. I would like to try a larger diameter one so I can flood my raised beds faster when I need to in the hot dry summer.

  4. Janice Herr says:

    If I win, I will donate the hose to Hilton Head’s butterfly enclosure at the Coastal Discovery Museum, which really could use it! I love these light weight hoses and have bought two for front and back yards.

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