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New Options for Watering

I have done away with the great serpent, the mighty beast I struggled so hard to control.

Stay! I would command, panting as I heaved it into its place, but when I turned my back, it would hump its body over azaleas, hydrangeas, and tender lilies, breaking branches willy nilly. When I turned to defend my plants, it would coil itself around my ankles, aiming to take me down. As I gripped its thick neck, it would hiss and spray me in the face.

The serpent is a commercial strength water hose, and I was so happy the day I brought it home. 

I am fortunate to live in an area that receives plentiful rain throughout the year, averaging about sixty inches of precipitation annually. We are blessed with many lakes, streams, and rivers, and water shortages are not common. Nevertheless, we do sometimes have droughts, usually during the hottest part of summer. Some plants are drought resistent, but others, including hydrangeas, are not. Their name comes from Greek words meaning 'water vessel', a tip that that these lovely shrubs especially need to be watered during dry spells. An assortment of hydrangeas are beginning to bloom in my garden now.Parts of my garden are far from a water source, and desperate times mean pulling a very long garden hose deep into the yard. I dream of a sprinkler system, but I doubt my budget will ever afford that.

I was fed up with flimsy, cheap hoses that burst at the first kink in their system or whenever a car inadvertently ran over them. So when I inherited a durable one from my father, I was pleased. I don't know where he found it. It's not the kind of hose one buys at a big box store. It is thick walled, black rubber, heavy duty, indestructible. A bulldozer couldn't crush it. My dad owned it for many years. Life-time guarantee? I don't know, but it outlived him, and I am sure it will also outlive me. 

The problem is, lugging that hose is heavy, hard work. It belongs in an industrial site where muscular men lift aircraft parts for fun.

This year I have done two things to replace the serpent. Thanks to modern technology, hoses can now be strong as well as lightweight. I recently purchased a hundred foot, super thin but heavy duty hose reported to be half the weight of normal hoses. I was skeptical but decided to try it out. Hooray! It looks very sturdy, indeed, and I can easily lift the entire hose with one hand.100 feet of lightweight, yet durable hose fits easily into this hose pot.

The second thing I did was to order a 65 gallon rain barrel, shaped like an urn, to serve as a water reservoir in my woodland garden. It is outfitted with a spigot and a short hose, and I can easily fill my watering can. It is wonderful to have a water source close to the thirsty plants!The urn shaped rain barrel fits easily into the woodland setting. I put mosquito control tablets in the water to prevent mosquitos from breeding.

When it quits raining, I look forward to trying out my new options!

5/13/12 Addendum: A number of commenters have asked if I depend on rain to fill the urn. Because the urn is not attached to a downspout, it would take a long time for rain to fill it. I used a hose to pre-fill it, and rainwater is a bonus. I am using the urn as a reservoir, so a water source is handily available in the woodland garden.

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Reader Comments (31)

Sounds like a great plan. My industrial hose is still in a coil buried under a ton of leaves. I've gone back to the medium grade flexible hose that seems to kink in the same place. Oh well at least it's cooler.

May 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreggo

Of course here in the dry tropics we wrestle with these beasts quite a bit, especially during the dry when we get no rain for anything up to nine months of the year. I had a bit of a chuckle when reading your post today, because it's all so familiar. Love the look of your new rain barrel!

May 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBernieh

Hi Deb
Your hydrangeas are stunning! Wow - very beautiful. An easy-to-manoeuvre hose is a joy, isn't it - and I'm sure the rain barrel will be handy. My friend had great success with a simplified drip irrigation system so you may want to consider that.

May 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAstrid

I'm envious of your 60+ inches of rain a year. I think we get about 10" in Santa Fe. I have a drip system, but I still have to drag the hose out to water new plants until I put drippers in. I'm interested to find out how the new lightweight hose works for you.

May 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGirlSprout

We have the same kind of situation with mostly no watering required but then some drought. The rain barrel is elegant. Does the rain barrel just rely on catching water in the opening at the top? It doesn't seem like enough would get in.

Watering really is a beast of a job! I bought exactly the same olive colored skinny, lightweight hose that you got, but I could not use it. It didn't kink, but it tangled and curled and the outer material seemed to stick to itself so it would not coil. The scenes of me wrestling this 100 foot piece of spaghetti were awful. You seem much more at ease with it .. wish I knew the secret. I got so frustrated I actually threw it away, brand new.

What a show of beautiful hydrangeas you have!

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

Very nice!!! That rain barrel is just the ticket too and I love the look. A perfect fit for your beautiful oasis!!!!

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEve

How clever you are to put a rain barrel out in the woods right where you need it! I only wish my rain barrel had enough water pressure to use a hose, even a small one. Filling the watering over and over again is hard work, and it's heavy! I have a fairly heavy duty hose too, I swear it will outlive me. But it's hard to wrangle, that's for sure. I've already used it for 30 years, is it possible that I could replace it with one of those lightweight but strong models? The scandal!

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobinL

That urn-shaped water barrel is fantastic; I would love one like that to store water run-off from the greenhouse - perfect for filling the watering can for drenching pots newly filled with compost ready to plant cuttings, potting on, pricking out. etc. I like the pots for storing hoses too, this is an idea I saw in a friend's garden in Phoenix that I intend copying. yours looks like it has somehitng to actually wind the hose around, is that right?. Christina

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

I love the urn - its beautiful and functional!

Love your woodland urn, a piece of sculpture as well as functional - fantastic! We only ever use a hose for the fruit and veg garden because we are on a water meter and have to pay for every drop, thank goodness we have such heavy clay that hangs onto the rain when it comes!

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPauline Mulligan

I'm not sure they make hoses like that any more. We've gone through so many since moving here, it's absurd. Sure, I can cut up the burst ones to make tree-ties, but who needs that many! ;) I think the rain barrel will be an enormous boon to your more remote areas of the garden. I'd like to add a few here, the only issue is that we normally get no summer rainfall to replenish them, but they'd work for part of the year at least. I like the urn style you chose, it blends in well with the garden, without looking utilitarian.

Beautiful hydrangeas! I would like to try a lace-cap variety. I fear I have lost my Oakleaf. I moved it one too many times. Still, I hope to see some sign of life.

I love my rain barrel installed last year. I want to install two more. I like that you have placed it as a reservoir in your garden by the plants that need it most. That hose looks wonderful, too. I struggle hooking a few together. I may have to invest in some of these!

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterthevioletfern

I love your urn - it looks perfect there! And the fact that it's useful, too, makes it even better! As for the hose - don't get rid of your Dad's! I have tried every 'good' hose they make, and after a few years they all seem to break down. I hope you have better luck with yours, but obviously your Dad's heavy one is made out of something durable! I know exactly how you feel about the 'serpent', though. Dragging any hose is a real challenge - they all seem to have a mind of their own!

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHolleyGarden

Do tell, does your urn just fill with rain? Or do you fill it so it is ready to use?

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElephant's Eye

Hi, everybody! I thank you all who take time to comment; I appreciate each one very much! Carolyn and Elephant's Eye both asked if my urn fills only by rainfall or do I pre-fill it. It will collect rain as it falls, but since it is not attached to a downspout, that process could take a long time! So yes, I have pre-filled it. It serves as a reservoir to keep the water handy. Christina asked about my hose pot. Yes, it has a center section to wrap the hose around. It also has a hole on the side through which one threads the end of hose that connects to the water spigot.

May 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterDeborah Elliott

Oh my gosh, 60" of rain! That would be heavenly right about now. We've gotten some recently and it has been a God send. We're still praying for Lake Travis to be full. It's just under 50% right now. The addition of the rain barrel is great. You're going to enjoy that, I'm sure!

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCat

The hydrangea's are looking wonderful and I just love that rain barrel... So unique..... Happy Mother's Day!

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchris

What a great idea to have a hose pot! It wasn't until I started taking photos of the garden that I realised what an eyesore a reel of hose is.

May 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterb-a-g

The urn looks great along with those terrific hydrangeas - but with your canopy of trees does any rain water get in there?

May 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRosie leavesnbloom

Deb we have that heavy black rubber hose...it will live forever...thought about a rain barrel and that is great to locate it out in the garden where needed....of course my garden is accessible with 2 houses joined together...and we get quite a bit of rain and snow here too....unless it was newly planted all plants survive on their own except the veg beds and containers.

I haven't seen a rain barrel like that before -- it looks lovely in your woodland garden. Your collection of hydrangeas is beautiful!!

May 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

The rain barrel as a reservoir is a great idea. It will make watering your garden so much easier. Our hose is always kinking. Grrr!

May 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

Deb, I'm having a hard time leaving a comment - this is my third attempt!

Your wily serpent story made me laugh as I'm pretty adept at snake wrangling myself!

The rain barrel looks perfect with the shrubs - quite the art piece. Great idea

May 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Chapman

I have been looking for something just like that rainbarrel: not ugly and not drainspout dependent. I'm in love with yours...and its a darn good idea to prefill, that also never occurred to me.

May 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJess

I love your hose pot! You have all my comprehension as I water my plants with a hose too. The only difference between me and you is that you get at least 50% annual rainfall water more than me!
Your hydrangeas are beautiful, I assume you have an acidic soil because they are all in the blue shades, you fertilize them with aluminium? I like your urn, we are using some very big plastic (fake terracotta looking) pots for the same purpose but mine are full of mosquitos...

May 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlberto

I really like the idea of an urn as a reservoir in the garden. I have four rain barrels that I use to water containers and sometimes the vegetable garden. It might be nice to have a reservoir somewhere.

May 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Sage Butterfly

Hi Debs, my first thoughts were rain, yes we get our fair share here in Aberdeen Scotland. Then I thought 60 inches that sounds extreme, just had to google to find out our rainfall. We get a mere 24inches, so I am going to stop complaining. I also have a hundred foot length of hose and yes it certainly is easy to be destructive. The pictures of your Hydrangeas are truly stunning. happy gardening Alistair..

May 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlistair

Where do I begin? I LOVE the urn. I also love the Hydrangeas. In my garden, I leave a soaker hose snaking through and around the hydrangeas -- then I hook up the water hose to the soaker hose. Instant irrigation. I really enjoyed the post.

I had no idea a rain barrel could be so attractive; how clever. I had to laugh at your descriptions of unruly hoses. Recently, as I was rushing around trying to finish gardening chores in my Gettysburg garden before leaving for Maine, I decided to take a "shortcut": rather than watering the herb bed that runs along one end of the patio by hand, I decided I could do it by resting the working end of the hose in a crook of a little fence that borders that garden area, aimed low at the side of the house. Of course, when I turned on the water to the hose, instead of spraying a low fountain of water over the length of the herb bed, the hose jumped and twisted in a different direction and and sent a high stream of water through the open patio door into my dining room!! Some shortcut; I hadn't been planning to shampoo those curtains and that carpet before I left!

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJean

I have never seen such an elegant rain barrel before. The hose pot is also lovely.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDenise
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