KC Gardens

Dennis Patton: Give some care to your garden hose now and it will give back next spring

Storing a garden hose in the garage for the winter.
Storing a garden hose in the garage for the winter. Johnson County K-State Research and Extension.

From Dennis Patton:

There are many unsung heroes in the world of gardening. We take for granted some of our best gardening equipment. Honestly, we treat some of our tools with total disrespect. One such often-mistreated garden tool is our good ol’ garden hose. Often neglected, it is really the lifeline of the garden, helping to supply needed water during periods of dry weather.

As this gardening season comes to a close let’s take a few minutes to show some respect to this tubular piece of plastic usually found meandering through our yard. Most people just leave their hoses out all winter in the elements, suffering the effects of freezing conditions, then thawing in warmer, more pleasant days. What we don’t often realize is that winter conditions are not only hard on us but our investment in the utilitarian hose.

Garden hoses are constructed of various types of plastic and rubber compounds. They are designed to be flexible, yet rigid enough to supply a constant supply of water under pressure. A good quality hose can also be an expensive investment, one that we would like to get years of service out of before replacing. As we head into winter here are a few tips to help your friendly hose last longer.

Hoses should always be disconnected from the faucet to prevent damage to the home. Outdoor faucets are self-draining, reducing the chance that they will freeze and cause a pipe to burst. The design works best when the hose is removed. All the water pressure is released, which allows the self-draining feature to function. Hoses should always be unscrewed from the home before freezing weather.

Next, hoses should be drained for the winter. Water left in a hose expands. This expansion will cause the hose to rupture. That means they will leak and either need to be repaired or replaced come spring. Disconnect the hose from the house and drain by lifting one end higher than the other allowing the water to slowly drain. This will now prevent ice damage and extend the life.

Over time sunlight breaks down the plastic or rubber material leaving them more brittle which can lead to cracks and leaks. Garden hoses should be stored out of the sunlight during the winter to help extend their life. Many people just coil their hoses by the spigot and leave them exposed to all the elements. Properly store your hoses indoors or in a shady location to reduce the effects of the sun.

Coiling a hose for storage is simple but does take a little work. Hoses should be stored in a coil, but not so tight a spiral that it creates a kink. A 3-foot circular diameter is a nice coil, easy to manage. Once coiled the hose can be stored in several ways. Hose reels are handy but expensive and take up space in a cramped garage. Traditional hose hangers have a gentle arch to reduce kinking and neatly hold the hose while storing. The coiled hoses can really be stored in a number of ways as long as the support does not cut into the hose, which will lead to a weak spot.

There you have it, one more task to do before we get completely caught up in the holidays. Take some time and show your ordinary garden hose a little love. Be sure to disconnect, drain, coil and store to help protect your investment. Come next spring when you need your garden hose to come to your rescue it will ready for action and the use (or abuse) of another season.