Choosing A Water Can
Whether made of copper, galvanized steel or humble plastic, watering cans are surprisingly diverse in the kind of watering jobs they do best. Smaller ones which fit easily into a kitchen sink for filling may serve indoor plants best, while larger designs may perform a variety of tasks around the yard and garden, ranging from giving spring fresh seedlings a head start to mixing concrete for the occasional patch of mortar.
When choosing a watering can, consider the size of the can--which might range from 2 pints to 2 or more gallons--before you fall in love with a nostalgic looking design and material. Some galvanized metal models can weigh in at five or more pounds when empty--at least four times as much as a similarly shaped plastic model. That number goes up quickly when you factor in water at a whopping eight pounds per gallon. A lighter plastic can is easier for watering overhead hanging baskets. Plastic cans also offer a greater variety of designs with curving narrow spouts.
On the other hand, metal cans are less likely to be blown over when left outdoors in wind and rain. Metal is also a better choice if you plan to dispense soluble fertilizer from a watering can. Plastic materials may take on residue and contaminate future waterings. Metal cans, if cared for, will always last a great deal longer than will any plastic versions.
When choosing a galvanized steel can, look for reinforcement around the base and spout and between the can and spout, as well as a solid reinforced handle. A plastic can will last longer if it's made from plastics designed to resist degradation from sunlight and temperature variances. Aesthetics can be satisfied with either copper-clad models or galvanized steel cans covered in bright epoxy paint colors. On any model, spills are less likely when there's a collar around the opening and the end of the spout is higher than the water level in the can.
Balance when carrying and using the can is important in any purchase decision. When the can is filled, it should feel comfortable to hold and carry. More important is how the can feels as you use it. If it is properly balanced, it will take very little energy to slowly tip the can and offer water in a controlled manner.
About Spouts & Roses
The spout and the nozzle, or rose, at the end of it are the working parts of the can. Some models have snap-on roses, some screw on to a threaded spout. The least expensive have a one-piece spout and rose and tend to provide a less effective spray. A rose can be made of plastic, brass or copper and may face up or down. Oval shaped roses that point up are best for seedlings as they mimic a gentle rain and won't disturb soil. For general watering, the rose can be pointed down. A round rose puts out a greater volume of water and is better suited for older plants.
Some long reach cans have spouts of 36 inches or so. Generally, a longer spout makes for good balance, regardless of the can's material. If it feels well balanced in your hand when you pick it up it should feel that way when it's full of water.
Tips For the Care of Watering Cans
Watering cans should not be used for applying any kind of pesticide – they should be used for water and fertilizer only. Plastic cans in particular might absorb any toxic chemical put in them.
Drain watering cans whenever they are not in use, and store them upside down if you can. It is critical not to let metal cans hold water when left out during the winter months when the water can freeze and seriously distort the bottom of the can. When possible, keep the plastic varieties out of the sun’s ultraviolet rays while in storage. Periodically remove the rose to clean it of sediment. Rinse it by running water back through the holes from the front. Use a toothpick to clean out any stubborn particles.