The garden hose is an underrated gardening tool. Without one, tasks that require water would be difficult and time-consuming, yet many gardeners don't give their hoses the care they deserve. Freezing temperatures, intense sunlight, repeated impacts, kinking and lawnmowers can all shorten the life of your hose -- and it isn't difficult to protect your hose from all of these hazards.
General Hose Care
Most gardeners use hoses to transport water for watering plants, clearing gutters and general cleaning purposes. More often than not, you'll want to attach a nozzle or sprinkler to the end of the hose to distribute water over a wider area or to stop the flow altogether; this puts pressure on the walls of the hose, and leaks may result if the hose material has been compromised.
Leaving your vinyl hose out in the sun compromises it, because ultraviolet sunlight makes vinyl brittle enough to crack when you bend it. Kinking your vinyl hose can also crack it, as can driving over it. Rubber hoses are tougher and more flexible than vinyl ones, but it goes without saying that any hose -- rubber or vinyl -- should never be in the path of your lawnmower. Coil and store your hose whenever you aren't using it. Before storing your hose for the winter, be sure to drain it completely, because any water that freezes inside will damage it.
Storing Your Hose
A revolving garden hose holder is a good investment; when you're done with the hose, you need only rewind the roller to automatically retract and drain the hose at the same time. If you don't have a holder, use a simple procedure to wind the hose:
Turn off the water and open the nozzle to relieve water pressure.
Walk back to the spigot; hold a section of the hose about 3 feet away and draw it back to the spigot, making a loop.
Grab another 3-foot section and make another loop; continue until the entire hose is wound.
Hang the hose on a hook or hose hanger. If you don't have one, lay it neatly on the ground next to the house. Avoid crisscrossing the loops when you hang or lay down the hose to make it easier to unwind it the next time you need it.
Leaving nozzles and sprinklers attached to your hose leads to corrosion and possible damage when you try to remove them. To prevent this, spray lubricant on the threads before attaching a nozzle or sprinkler.
Conventional and Unconventional Uses
Hoses are meant for transporting water under pressure, but they also have other uses. In a pinch, you can use a hose as a rope when you need to pull a heavy load -- a rubber hose is the best one to use for this job. You can also cut up old hoses and use the pieces for a variety of purposes, including protecting saw blades, hanging tools, making door hinges, and providing buffers around patios and gardens. When you use a hose for its intended purpose, it's ideal for clearing drains and downspouts. You merely feed the hose into a blocked pipe, turn on the water and let the combination of water pressure and pushing motion clear the blockage.