Are Expandable Garden Hoses Worth Trying?

Expandable hoses emerged on the gardening scene a few years back and caused a lot of excitement. While the infomercials made a meal of the video scenes of people struggling with regular garden hoses the idea wasn’t too far fetched. Tangled hoses that kink and are a pain to move or store is not an unfamiliar experience. We’ve all had our share of troubles with garden hoses so when we saw the first ads for expandable hoses we opened our wallets and rushed our orders off.

That excitement soon turned to disappointment, though. The hose looked great when it arrived, it felt light and it certainly didn’t kink or tangle no matter how hard we tried, The problems started when we connected it up and started to use it. The hose dutifully expanded up to three times its length, as advertised, but after the first few uses it started to leak. A lot. If you read the discussions on some gardening forums then you’ll know that there have been a lot of complaints about these products.

leaking expandable hose

The inner tubes of the expandable hose is normally made from latex but some manufacturers used poorer quality materials or thin latex tubes. These very quickly sprung leaks. As soon as you dragged it across the driveway the outer material got snagged and did a poor job of protecting the inner tube. And don’t get me started on those poor quality connectors. If the inner tube didn’t leak then the where the connector joined the hose quickly became the culprit.  After using up loads of cable ties and bits and pieces to fix the hose we eventually just threw our expandable hose in the bin and went back to our regular hose.

The newer versions of expandable hoses are, however, a lot better. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of poor quality expanding hoses that we just wouldn’t bother with, but there are some really good ones too. The best expandable hose options are definitely worth considering again. Here’s what you should look out for.

expandable hose

Make sure that the inner tube of the hose is made from a double, or even triple, layer of good quality latex. The walls of the inner tube should be around 6mm thick.

The connectors on the hose are important too. Forget the plastic connectors and rather go for a hose that has solid brass connectors. These won’t crack or rust even if you leave it outside. Make sure that the connectors are joined to the hose with a decent quality interface.

The outer material sheath is there to protect the inner tube. Make sure that this material is made from a high denier synthetic material like nylon. It needs to be something that won’t snag on concrete the second you take it out.



Expandable hoses are not as durable as regular garden hoses but they should still last you at least a year or two before starting to leak. If you spend around $40 you should be able to get a good one. Even if it only lasts you a year or so then the ease of use makes it worth the money you spend. View it as a garden consumable that saves you a lot of stress and effort. Just make sure you read some reviews and get a good quality one.

Should You Till Your Ground?

If you have a look on gardening forums you’ll see that there is a lot of discussion around the topic of tilling ground. There seems to be varied views on whether or not you should till ground. Some say it does no good, while others say that you actually harm the soil by tilling it. Should you till your ground? Well, the answer is a very unsatisfying “Maybe” because it depends on a number of factors.

Vegetable garden

When You Should Till

The argument for tilling is a valid one if you’re faced with these conditions. If you’re breaking new ground then you’re probably going to need to till it before you can plant. In the good old days you’d have to go at it with a hoe or get out a small plow to hook up to your horse. Fortunately today we have rototillers, also known as a cultivator, that make the hob a lot easier.

If your veggie garden is completely bare at the end of the season then it might be a good idea to till it before planting again. You can then cover it with cardboard or newspaper and then throw compost and muclh on top of it.  In a few weeks you’ll have great soil ready to plant and you can then go the no till route afterwards.

If you want to speed up decomposition and try to add organic material into your soil the tilling will definitely speed up the process. Just make sure that you don’t till ground that is full of root spreading weeds because that will just make a bad problem worse.

Earthworm

When You Shouldn’t Till

The argument against tilling is that it destroys the structure of the soil. Gardeners in this camp will tell you that tilling may solve some short term problems but, in the long term, the soil suffers because of it. At best they say that you may just be wasting your time and effort.

Nature does have a way of doing its own tilling. Earthworms and other creepy crawlies make their way through the soil and do a good job of keeping the soil in good condition. These bugs do some great natural aeration of the soil. Running a rototiller through soil can damage the healthy bacteria and kill the earthworms.

Garden Tiller
Norlett 5210 Garden tiller

Choosing The Right Tiller

If you feel that you must till then make sure you get the right tiller for the job. For softer soil and established gardens you can save yourself some money and get a smaller front tine tiller. If your soil is hard clay, rocky or full of roots then you’re going to need to get a rear tine tiller to get the job done properly. These can be pricey but it’s the only way to go if you need to break new, hard ground. Make sure you read some rear tine tiller reviews before choosing so that you get the best rear tiller for the job.



Conclusion

Perhaps the best strategy is to be patient and take the long-term view with your soil. Take good care of the soil and within a few years, you’ll have ground that is fairly weed free and doesn’t need any tilling or digging. If you absolutely feel like you need to till then make sure that you don’t till too deeply. Happy gardening!

Garden and Lawn Care Tips

Lawn Care

There’s nothing quite as pleasing to the eye as a green, well manicured lawn. It takes a lot of hard work to get your grass looking that good though. While you may not have the time or budget to get your lawn looking picture perfect, there are some simple things you can do to still get it looking really good. Here are the 5 keys to getting a great lawn.

Good Fertlising

Your grass doesn’t just need water, it needs food too. When you cut and water your lawn you end up removing some of the nutrients that your grass needs to grow. This is why it’s so important to fertilise your lawn. Once you get to the start of Spring you should fertilize your lawn about once a month. Just make sure that you follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging and don’t put too much on your lawn because that can damage the grass.

Regular Watering

Giving your grass water regularly is crucial to keeping it looking green on top and developing healthy roots under the ground. How often you need to water the grass really depends on the weather conditions you experience. A good indicator of grass that isn’t getting enough water is when the ends of the blades curl a bit or begin to wilt. The grass will also get a blueish grey color if it isn’t getting enough water.  Watering by hand is fine for a small lawn but if your lawn is big then rather get a decent manual sprinkler, or an automatic irrigation system if you can afford it. These automatic systems can often be set to regulate the moisture content of the ground with clever sensors that save you having to decide if your lawn needs water or not.

lawn watering

Cut Your Lawn Properly

It’s important to cut your lawn regularly. Not only does it keep it looking neat but it also makes your lawn thicken up. You’re better off cutting the lawn regularly without removing too much than waiting until it gets long and then having to take off a whole bunch. When you run your mower over the lawn don’t keep mowing in the same lines. Criss cross your lawn each time so that the grass doesn’t get pressed the same way each time. You want to be removing a little less than a quarter inch with each mowing. To edge your lawn properly it’s worth spending the money to buy the best weed eater your budget allows for.

Lawn Aerification

Your lawn needs to breathe. This doesn’t just apply to the blades on the surface but to the roots below the ground. Sometimes soil can be so compacted that it is difficult for air to get down to the roots. You can use a garden fork and some elbow greas to put some holes in the ground and, for the most part, this will help quite a bit. You also get garden tools that will make your efforts more consistent and a little easier.



Remove Weeds

Weeding can be a pain but it’s important to pluck them out of your lawn as soon as you see them. Don’t let the weeds get a chance to go to seed because then you’l have an even bigger problem.  When you remove weeds use a weeding tool so that you get the weed out along with the root.

There’s a lot more that you could do for your lawn but if you cover these 5 main things then you should start to see some good results. It does call for patience and persistance though. Keep watering, cutting, weeding and fertilizing regularly and your lawn will becomer greener and better established day by day.

When To Prune Roses

We love roses but they can be difficult to grow successfully in your garden. One of the keys to growing great roses is to know when to prune them. We’ve experimented with a couple of different techniques and have found that in general, it is the timing of the pruning that is most important.  We found this great video that explains when the best time is.