A hose nozzle offers a variety of advantages: you don’t have to kink the end of the hose when you want to temporarily stop the flow of water; you don’t have to strain your thumb to create a hard stream of water; and you can change the water from a soft rain to a concentrated stream. Also, the wide array of heads available lets you accomplish a multitude of jobs.
Nozzles and heads are made of several different materials. Solid brass is best, followed by brass-plated zinc, followed by plastic (this is adequate but less durable than the other types). You may wish to choose several nozzles and heads; they save a lot of labor and don’t cost too much.
This adjustable nozzle has been the standard for years. Shifting the dial on the tip changes the flow of water from a fine spray to a hard stream.
Both brass and plastic models are available. On some brass models, the front stem can be unscrewed and removed to expose the base, which provides a direct, higher-volume stream of water. The plastic models cost less than the brass, and the better ones are insulated to protect your hand from either hot or cold water.
Pistol-grip nozzles are available in brass-plated zinc and in plastic. The pistol grip and trigger make it easy to hold and change the spray type with one hand. Squeezing the trigger controls the volume of water and, therefore, the pattern of spray. To keep the volume at a certain level, just turn a knurled knob near the trigger. The next time the trigger is squeezed, it will instantly produce the preset volume. Some models have a stainless steel clip that locks the trigger. This relieves the strain on your hand, which can be a problem with this type of nozzle.
On some models, the tips are threaded to accept other attachments, such as fan sprayers, water wands, and proportioners (these feed out specific amounts of liquid fertilizer from an attached container).
Sweeper or Cleaning Nozzles
Patterned after the firefighting hose, these nozzles are used to direct large volumes of water in powerful streams. They are short, tapered, and not adjustable. Their main use is for cleaning driveways, walks, exterior walls, and garden statues and for clearing leaves from lawns.
This head is an excellent choice for watering seedlings, delicate border-garden flowers, or flower boxes. The head produces a wide spray with a fairly high volume of water, but its delivery is more gentle than that of pistol-grip or twist-control nozzles.
These heads tend to be made entirely of plastic, but some have a brass watering head that’s set in plastic.
Some are available with a swivel-mounted spike that holds the head in the lawn for heavy direct watering. The spike snaps under the handle when not in use.
Bubblers or Soaker Heads
These are good accessories for doing gentle watering. Shaped like a bulb or small ball, bubblers screw onto the end of the hose. They mix the water with air to deliver a high volume of water without eroding the soil. These bubblers are ideal for deep watering, soaking, or filling irrigation ditches for vegetable gardens—just put the nozzle on the ground. However, some types can also be adjusted to shoot a straight stream or deliver a gentle spray.
A variety of soaker called a breaker works like a fan sprayer, with many holes in a shell. There are so many holes, however, that the water does not squirt from them, but just gently pours out as it does from a bubbler. Breakers are often used to water containers quickly but gently.
Misting heads put out a fine, foglike spray and are especially useful for seedlings and in greenhouses for watering tropical foliage plants. The sprays may adjust from a coarse-but-delicate spray to a fine mist. The better heads are made of brass and have removable jets for periodic cleaning. The water output is so slow that they are not practical for most watering.
When a head (e.g., a bubbler) lacks a shut-off device, consider buying one—it will save you trips to and from the spigot. Constructed of plastic, zinc, or brass, these valves have a female end for connecting to the hose and a male end for attaching the accessories. A ball valve located inside is operated by a lever to control the flow of water.
Hose-extender wands are excellent aids to water shrubs or hanging plants in hard-to-reach spots. They are also useful in greenhouses where seedlings may be located far back on the plant bench. The handles can be up to 48 inches long. Most are made of aluminum, with a hand grip of soft vinyl or rubber.
The better wands have a threaded tip, which lets you remove a damaged nozzle or other accessory head to clean or replace it. Some wands also have shut-off valves built in so you don’t end up inadvertently watering the floor or ground between the potted plants.
Root waterers are used to get water and fertilizer deep into the ground next to tree roots. This tool is a long steel tube with a series of holes near the sharpened bottom and a hose connection at the top. Many root waterers have a chamber at the top, in which a fertilizer cartridge is placed. The water flows through the cartridge, dilutes the fertilizer, and carries the solution to the roots.
These waterers are especially useful in areas with compacted soil that keeps water away from the roots. Just insert the root waterer at the tree’s drip line (the limits of the branch extension). Use moderate water pressure and move the waterer 6 to 8 feet every hour or so until you have worked your way around the tree.
To maintain nozzles, heads, and hose accessories, check periodically to see that the holes (jets) are not clogged. If they are, unplug them. After each job, rinse the entire unit so that it is completely cleared of soil and debris.