Spray Nozzles: Tips on choosing the right garden hose fittings

As a self-confessed gadget obsessive, I’m both optimistic and cynical when new products hit the market. Not that garden spray nozzles are particularly new but as hose fittings they’ve come a long way since the technological achievements of the twist head sprayer.

In fact, it was probably the twist head that paved the way for these new fan-dangled multi-sprayers. Where once we were excited with the amount of control we could brandish over our watering tasks, we can no longer settle for gradual increments from jet to spray. It always has to be more.

Admittedly I’ve tried a number of these multi sprayers with varying degrees of success – and obviously contributed more than my fair share to landfill. Which highlights the problems of not choosing your garden hose fittings carefully. The less you spend almost guarantees its destiny with the garbage bin. But then spending more won’t necessarily safeguard you against throwing your hands up in despair – and the spray nozzle in the trash.

What to look for in a quality spray nozzle

The best hose fittings usually have similar redeeming qualities, such as;

  • Brass Mechanisms – offering more resistance to seizing and rust, brass mechanisms are better able to handle the rigours of service we expect from our garden tools. At the very least, the pin that levers open the nozzle should be brass and if possible the male hose attachment should also be brass (but I’ve found good ones without the latter option).
  • Hard Plastic – especially the lever that activates the brass pin. If this isn’t sturdy – and unfortunately it probably won’t be recyclable – then you will only ever get one season out of your nozzle.
  • Molded Hand Grip – this is a necessity if you plan to spend more than 10 minutes watering your garden each day. Many of the good ones have now added softer grips as well to ease any undue strain on your hands
  • Always-on Clip – these are essential for long watering stints. Holding a lever against a spring for long periods can cause stress on your hand muscles. The Always-on clip can be set once you’re into your watering process saving copious amounts of pain.

Once you’ve found a good spray nozzle the next task is deciphering what all those options are used for. Most combinations available today are similar, even if they’re not labeled the same and most sprayers will feature 4,6, 7 or 9 differing combinations. Which is best? The jury is still out on that one but for me, I’m enamoured with my 6 pattern.

This is what it offers and how to use each option;

  1. Jet – while I don’t waste precious water hosing down my driveway every week there are always tasks that require a little more pressure than just dribbling water through a hose. Cleaning buckets, tools, the wheelbarrow etc seem to take a little more forcefulness. Plus, this pattern gives you the option where needed to blast some unwanted lichen from your patio bricks or hose down your compost tumbler. In reality, the main purpose of the jet option is for cleaning more than watering.
  2. Shower – a handy choice for watering your established perennials that can handle some aggressive action. It delivers water efficiently around the root ball of the plant and helps with those where watering the foliage is also desirable.
  3. Flat – this produces a flat, almost horizontal spray that works much like a water sprayer used on raodworks. It’s a great option for bedding in seeds especially in the veggie patch and while you probably won’t use this option much, it is handy if it’s available.
  4. Cone – similar to the Shower pattern, the Cone differs only in that it doesn’t water the foliage per se. It can deliver water to the roots of the plants in a fashion that’s less aggressive than the Shower option and will apply less to the foliage than to the root ball.
  5. Soaker – I always wondered the purpose of this option until I transplanted some seedlings in the garden. The Soaker option is a must for this chore because it delivers a heap of water very gently around the base of each plant. It does the same for planting any of your plants ensuring that any air pockets within the soil are quickly eradicated.
  6. Mist – the final option on my 6 pattern is Mist and it doesn’t really need any introduction. Useful for container plants and soft-foliage herbs it’s a must for any spray nozzle. This option is also great for keeping your seedling trays moist where you don’t require a lot of water.

So, just when you thought buying garden hose fittings was a no-brainer there seems to be more to consider than just price. Choose a spray nozzle that will last for your purposes and offers as much as you require.

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