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How to Choose a Garden Hose for Watering Tomatoes

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When it’s time to choose a garden hose for watering tomatoes, be prepared. One size does not fit all.

A garden hose is an indispensible piece of garden equipment, but you may use it for additional household tasks such as rinsing off the patio, washing the car, and even filling the wading pool. Fortunately, hoses are available in all kinds of sizes and materials. Consumer-grade hoses are constructed to meet the needs of an average homeowner.

When you know what to look for, you can choose a garden hose that’s right for you and for watering your tomato plants.

Choose Hose Length

Garden hoses measure from 10 feet to over 100 feet. Determine how far you need to water source to reach in order to water your tomato plants. You can pace off the length or use a builder’s tape measure.

If your tomatoes are on the patio, balcony, or just adjacent to your house, a shorter length should suffice. Further than that and you want a longer hose. Yet be careful not to choose too long a hose for your situation, because added length reduces water pressure, weighs more, and increases the chance of puncture. Choose from standard hose sizes:

  • 25 feet (7.6 meters)
  • 50 feet (15 meters)
  • 75 feet (22.8 meters)
  • 100 feet (30 meters)

Choose Hose Diameter

Most hoses are ½ inch in diameter, which translates into about 9 gallons of water per minute (give or take, depending on your water presser.) A wider diameter, such as 5/8 inches or even ¾ inches, delivers more water. But fair warning: as the diameter of the hose increases, water pressure decreases, especially over distance. If your tomato plot is a bit of the hike from your spigot, you may want to choose a narrower, more standard ½ inch hose diameter.

Chose Hose Material

garden hose by Rodale

Most garden hoses are constructed from vinyl or rubber. Choose between the two based on your climate and your watering requirements.

Vinyl hoses are lightweight, less expensive, and easy to handle. They work well for gardens that require light watering or for gardens in a mild climate.

Rubber hoses are heavier, more expensive, and bulky. They are a good choice if your weather is extreme or when you need considerable durability – for instance, if you water a very large garden daily over many months or if you need to move the hose often, especially through rough terrain. Rubber hoses are more crack-resistant and kink-resistant than vinyl hoses.

(See a good selection of garden hoses here.)

Choose Hose Thickness

To choose a garden hose, also consider hose construction. Look at an additional element: its ply designation, which refers to the number of layers in the material. Hose ply ranges from weakest to strongest, with ply designated from 2 ply to 6 ply.

A higher ply number means more layers of vinyl or rubber, and therefore a stronger material. In addition, hoses with a mesh layer in between plies or a mesh covering on the hose exterior are even stronger. If your yard and garden has gravel, equipment, or hardscape, or if you anticipate heavy use from your hose, a higher ply hose with mesh covering can help provide extra protection against snags and rips.  Another advantage to higher ply hoses: they kink less.

Choose a Hose Fitting

The fitting (coupling) attaches the hose to the water supply. Fittings are constructed in metal (usually brass) and plastic. Brass is more durable than plastic and less likely to leak, but can be difficult to tighten. A brass fitting is often octagon-shaped, which allows you to fit it on the spigot with a wrench. Plastic fittings are easier to tighten, but less resilient and more prone to cracking. Good hoses often have a plastic or rubber collar extending 4-6 inches from the fitting along the hose, which helps prevent kinks and splits near the spigot attachment.

To Choose a Garden Hose, Consider Another Feature

Hoses treated with microbial protection help prevent mold, mildew, and other microbial growth on surfaces. The antibacterial agent, a positively-charged polymer, bonds to the hose material surfaces. As microorganisms contact the hose surface, they are electrically charged and rendered useless.

What Prevents Garden Hose Kinks?

  • Rubber hoses kink less than vinyl hoses.
  • Hoses with brass fittings (couplings) and plastic or rubber collars at the spigot attachment kink less than those with other fittings.
  • A higher-ply hose, especially one with mesh layers, kinks less than lower-ply hoses.

Specialty Hoses

Sprinkler hoses are designed to water lawns. They can be set on timers and are dotted with holes on one side to spray upwards and distribute it across the lawn.

Soaker hoses are porous. Made specifically for garden irrigation, they can be laid on the garden surface or buried under a layer of mulch. The hose leaks small amounts of water directly to the roots of your tomato plants, which offers an economical use of water and prevents excessive evaporation. You can program soaker hoses to turn on and off using a timer.

Commercial hoses are designed to be used continuously and in very hot temperatures. They are suitable in a nursery or professional garden center.

Get information about different hoses and watering gear iconfrom Gardener's Supply.

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