Singing Hosannas to the Hose…


I’m in the market for a new garden hose.

My first foray into the world of “flexible” garden hoses ended when my stylish black model just lost pressure while spraying out the patio door tracks of tree material.

You do remember the onslaught of maple tree “helicopters” earlier this spring?

The ones that didn’t clog my gutters or take root on the garden beds seemed to be attracted by our patio door tracks.

I got to like using that flexible hose.

I kept it on a hose reel, in the garage, away from the harsh rays of the sun.

My favorite time was closing the valve and turning on the spigot after hooking up the hose and watching it stretch out and crawl forward.

It was also as much fun as turning off the spigot and watching the hose shrinking back to a manageable size.

Not sure that the one I bought was one of the “better” models available since mine seemed to catch and snag on things around the house and in the yard.

It wasn’t one of those models that Al from “Tool Time” used to peddle.

I have a more traditional “rubber and vinyl model on a wheeled hose-cart but it’s a little more unwieldy.

In cold weather it maintains the “coil” position which forces me to do the “garden hose tango” to reach my watering destination.

These “flexible” models will expand to three times their usual length and weight considerably less than their rubber and/or vinyl counterparts.

These “flex” models are also easier to drain and store (Agreed!) but as is usually the case, there are things you need to consider when buying these hoses.

Check the make-up of the inner tube.

There’s something referred to as “TPU” and, as you might suspect, the cheaper the quality, the lower the life span.

The inner tube transports the water and the outer fabric, usually a fabric made of nylon can be an issue, good or bad.

My old black beauty was getting pretty snagged and frizzy-looking when it finally succumbed.

You also have to watch those with brass fittings because they can chemically react with some types of latex in hoses and cause premature failure.

Garden hoses are often referred to as “hoses”, “water hoses” or “hosepipes” (which I’ve never used).

Green is the top color for hoses although black, blue, red and silver models are noted.

This whole “hose” thing goes back to 400BC when they were made from ox intestines.

I understand the ox weren’t too crazy about the idea.

Of course, the fire fighting industry has ties to hoses when folks stitched together leather models.

Dutch inventor Jan van der Heyden is credited with inventing the prototype firehose in 1673.

As a 12 year old boy, he watched as the city hall in his home town burned down, in part, due to the fact firefighters couldn’t splash enough water on the flames with their bucket brigades.

You might say van der Heyden had a “burning desire” for as better way to fight flames.

Nineteenth century firehoses went to a cotton and rubber blend.

By the way, I have some empathy with firefighters since I’ve participated in a few “fireball” events at street fairs and events over the years.

A pressured firehose meant to be aimed at a ball suspended from a cable has pretty much its’ own mind as to where that stream of water wants to go when the PSI is increased.

You gotta really hang on!

Then add that heavy firefighter gear and you’ll see it’s not as easy as it might look.

I come from the generation of backyard garden hose drinkers.

I remember going to someone’s backyard to get a sip of water from a playmates water hose.

If it was one of those green plastic models that had been baking in the sun, you had to let the water run to push out the molten lava before you got to anything somewhat refreshingly cool.

Even then it had that obvious “plastic” taste and aroma.

Health officials say it’s generally not “safe” to drink from a garden hose due to the chemicals used to make hoses water-tight and leak-resistant.

But I still sneak a sip today from the hose when I water or rinse.

It’s the “daredevil” in me.

You should not leave hoses attached to the spigot with something on the other end restricting the flow of water.

Did you know that a dripping hose bib can lose up to 180 gallons of water per month?

That would easily allow for a couple of “Slip ‘n Slide” adventures in your backyard.

If you’re really a “hose geek”, you might find some interest in going to firefighting museums in

Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts and New York state.

Hose diameter determines how much flow you can expect.

Those quarter inch models deliver about 9 gallons a minute while the 3/4 inch ones can spray out 25 gallons of water every 60 seconds.

I’ll be looking for a new flexible hose soon but I’m just happy to know it won’t be made of ox intestines.