Gardening Watering

Never Enough Taps in a Garden

20170731GIt’s pretty clear that architects have no understanding of gardeners … and especially, of their need for multiple water outlets.

Hose Sprinkle Water Outside Garden Tap
Only one outdoor tap per house? That’s just not enough! Photo: Max Pixel

A typical house has only one outdoor tap whereas it would obviously require at least four, one on each side of the building. When our plants need watering, dragging a long hose all around the house is slow and complicated—the hose gets stuck, forms kinks and half the time ends up crushing plants as you struggle to steer it on the proper course. Then you have to drag it back again, running into similar problems.

Worse yet, apartment balconies have no outdoor tap at all! How are we supposed to water our balcony gardens without a water outlet right at hand?

It really makes no sense!

Adding Water Outlets

This awkward situation forces gardeners to innovate.

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A partial solution is to add a multi-hose connector to increase the number of spigots.

For example, you can add a two-, three-, or four-way connector to an ordinary outdoor tap, allowing you to use multiple hoses. I figure almost all gardeners use one.

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You can add extra taps to your garden. Photo: Lee Valley Tools

It’s also possible to install a tap well out in the garden: just run a hose to the right spot and install a riser, then fix a tap to it. Some companies even make it easy by offering garden tap extension kits. You can even add more than one tap so the places that need the most water are covered: one near the vegetable garden for sure, one near the water garden, etc.

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Run the hose underground so it will be invisible and protected from frost. Photo: Lee Valley Tools

However, leaving hoses lying around leading to your various garden taps constitutes a tripping risk for both you and your visitors, plus hoses lying here and there don’t give your garden a very finished look. Also, in climates where outdoor hoses can freeze and split open over the winter, you have to bring all those hoses indoors during the cold season. For that reason, it’s worthwhile considering burying the hoses in a trench deep enough to keep the water from freezing. Out of sight, out of mind and out of danger.

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Water barrels are another source of water. Photo: regan76, Flickr

A water barrel with spigot placed on the drainpipe of the gutter also offers another source of water … even a third if there is also a drainpipe on the other side of the house to which you can add a second barrel.

In Apartments

Back when I was living in an apartment, I installed a “houseplant watering wand” that went from the kitchen tap at one end of the apartment to the balcony to the other. It wasn’t very reliable (I needed to replace the flimsy hose frequently) and only delivered water at a fairly slow rate. Plus, I had to roll it up after every watering. Still, it was better than hauling watering cans full of water back and forth from the kitchen sink to my hot and sunny balcony vegetable garden, something I sometimes had to do multiple times each day.

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Spiral hose you can attach to a kitchen sink. Gardener’s Supply Company

There are now spiral watering hoses you can attach to a kitchen sink. I’ve never tried one, but they should be easier to store, as they contract back to the kitchen all on their own, and therefore ought to be much more convenient.

Still, having a tap on the balcony would be so much more convenient!

At My Place

At my home, I installed an extra outside tap on the house itself right near my deck (which I use as a support for the dozens of thirsty containers that summer there), so I now have taps on two sides of the house, each with a four-connector adapter. Plus, I added two extra taps away back from the house, one in the front yard, one in the back. (I ran the garden hose underground through PVC pipe to protect it from accidental shovel cuts.) And I have a rainwater barrel as well.

But even these nine water outlets aren’t really sufficient. For things to work swimmingly (sorry: awkward attempt at a pun!), I would pretty much need a tap each of the other two sides of the house … and I can think of two other places out in the garden where an extra tap would be very handy. So, one of these days…!

Planning Your Dream House?

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Dream houses need lots of outdoor taps. Illus.: Clipartion.com

If you’re planning to build your dream home with the idea of being able to garden at your leisure, I suggest having taps installed on all four sides of the house from the get-go and, if your lot is a big one, in several other convenient locations out in the garden. Gardening is so much easier when you have a source of water right at hand!20170731G

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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