Time Saving Watering Tools

Over the years I have accumulated a number of favorite watering-related devices and accessories that make the watering job just a bit easier.

Moisture meter. Inexpensive moisture meters, usually sold in the houseplant section of the garden center, have been available for years. It's a little box on top of a metal prong, and costs about $6. It is used to determine if there is a need to water. The trick is to stick the prong down only about 3 inches. If it says that soil is dry, it is time to water.

Faucet extender. If your house is like mine, the outside water faucet is covered up with the foundation shrubs, making getting to the faucet an adventure. A faucet extender is simply another faucet attached to a hose that is attached to your existing faucet on your house. Mine extends about six feet, so my new faucet is in the front of the shrubs where I can get at it. You can buy these at Lowe's or check out Lee Valley Tools. They cost about $38.

Hose guides. If you have to move your garden hose around to change the location of a sprinkler or to be able to walk through the garden with a watering wand, you soon find that if the hose is pulled around a certain corner it will roll right over some of your flowers.

Hose guides come in all manner of shapes, sizes and prices. The idea is to pound the hose guide into the soil at that point where the hose needs to go around a corner where you need to protect the plants. You can get inexpensive guides at Lowe's, or more fancy choices at Gardener's Supply Co. ( Gardener's Supply Company) or Lee Valley Tool Co. ( Lee Valley Tools).

Timers. Timers are designed to be set so your watering system will run for a certain period of time and then automatically shut itself off. I use mine to turn off my sprinkler when it is watering my lawn. The simple version is a mechanical timer much like the timer my mother used on her stove. Wind it up to the right amount of time, and it ticks away until the system turns off. You can get a three-hour timer from Lee Valley Tools (Lee Valley Tools) for $17.

Quick-connect devices. These are attachments, usually brass or plastic, that are placed on the end of each watering device and also on the end of all faucets. Instead of having to thread a device to a hose or faucet, you simply push the ends together and the leak-proof connection is made. The key to this device being truly helpful is to go to the trouble of having quick-connects for every single watering device you have including all hoses, watering wands, sprinklers and faucets. If only part of your watering system has quick connects, you will invariably be trying to connect one device with no quick-connect to a hose having a quick-connect -- very frustrating. I like the brass devices that are not cheap. They cost about $6 a pair and I use about 12 pairs. The plastic version works OK and costs much less. Most garden centers and home centers sell these handy helpers.

Hose kink eliminator. If you happen to buy a hose that is very soft and tends to kink easily, stopping the water flow, you know that if you pull the hose all the way out so it is fully extended, it will kink right at the faucet. The solution is a 6-inch device called a "hose kink eliminator" or "hose saver" that is attached between the hose end and the faucet. For $6 at Lowe's you eliminate that kinking problem at the faucet. Also see Lee Valley Tools

Hose nozzle. I've tried a gazillion nozzles and after only 30 years of searching I found my favorite. It is called the Ultimate Nozzle and is modeled after a fire-fighting fog nozzle. It is adjustable from a real strong solid stream to a light fan shape. It is comfortable to hold for a half an hour or more. You can find it at Ultimate Nozzle Site or check out Gardener\'s Supply Company about $27.

Self-rollup hose storage device. There are lots of ways to store a garden hose. If you want to feel pampered, try the Reel Smart Hose Reel by Hydro Industries (Lowe's, $60 to $80). It is an attractive plastic box that will store 100 feet of hose, which can be pulled out of the box easily. When you are finished, you walk back to the storage box, push a lever, and the box pulls your hose back in by itself. It uses the power from the pressure in your water faucet to do this magic. There are no batteries or other electrical connections required. Mine has worked well for three years now.

Mulch. Of course for me, the ultimate water-saving device is the organic mulch I use over all my flower and vegetable garden beds. It eliminates the evaporation of water from the soil and cuts the needed watering time in half.

see all questions...

Do you have a gardening question? Ask Nancy