quick_connectors.jpgI’ve been gardening for years, and I still struggle with finding the ideal way to handle watering (ok, “irrigating” for the more technical term) my plantings. I inherited an in-ground sprinkler system with the house. It was designed and installed with turf in mind, and since I’ve gotten rid of much of the turf, I’ve had to make it work for the xeric and vegetable gardens that fill the old lawn space (but that’s another post!). I have soaker hoses that I run manually for watering my tree lawn, a.k.a. parkway, a.k.a. “hell strip.” And I have some plantings that I still need to (gasp!) hand water. For example, I have two windowboxes that I plant with ‘Lady in Red’ salvia every year because they bring the hummingbirds right up to my windows. And don’t forget the tomatoes I grow in a self-watering container on my deck, and the peppers I grow in a similar container on the south side of the house. (By the way, “self-watering” is a misnomer…I still have to fill up the reservoir in the bottom!)Given my watering requirements, my garden hose gets quite a bit of use. I use it to fill a watering can that I then use to fill bird baths or to water the above-mentioned containers. It also needs to be connected to the soaker hoses that I use in the tree lawn and also the soakers that handle the very xeric strip along the south side of my house. In the winter, I attach a regular above-ground sprinkler fixture to it and drag it around for winter watering. And sometimes I even use it to wash the car.

Screwing and unscrewing the different hose-end fixtures gets to be a bit of a chore. So I was thrilled to discover quick-connects several years ago. Quick-connects are two piece hose-end fixtures that let you easily swap out different hose-end sprayers, sprinklers, etc. One piece, the “female” piece, is screwed on to the hose itself. Then the other piece, the “male,” is screwed on to the irrigation fixture (nozzles, sprayers, manual sprinklers, etc). I also have male pieces on the ends of my soakers that need to be attached to the garden hose. The female piece has a sliding cuff that you pull back before inserting the male piece. The cuff is slid back again to remove the male piece, usually to insert a different one (yes – we are STILL talking about irrigation equipment here!). The hardest work is attaching them in the spring and removing them in the fall (you do NOT want to let them freeze since the female connector will be damaged if water freezes inside it). What a marvelous invention!

But…I have tried several different brands over the years, and inevitably, usually after a season, they leak. And the leak is not between the pieces and the fixture they are attached to (yes, I’ve made sure to use washers there), but within the female piece itself. It’s so frustrating to see the steady drip, drip, drip of water leaving the coupling and running down the hose as you water with a hose-end sprayer. I’ve used plastic quick-connect sets and brass ones. No difference…besides price! After a season, they leak. I hate to waste anything; hence, I have a number of out-of-use female quick-connect pieces gathering dust in my shed. It frustrates me to not be able to either find a way to repair the problem or to find a set that does not leak.

If anyone out there knows of a brand that doesn’t leak OR of a way to repair a leaky set, I would love to hear from you! I’m also open to any other suggestions for making hand watering easier.

(Photo courtesy of Melnor, Inc. – http://www.melnor.com)