Abolish open hoses

Depending on water pressure and hose size, the average open hose uses in one hour almost as much as the average American family of four uses indoor in six days. Plants cannot use that much water.

Like so many others, we used open hoses week in and week out. As I began to measure our water use, I timed how long it took to fill a 5-gallon bucket. With our big hoses and great pressure, it filled quickly. Extrapolating, I determined their flow rate was more than 20 gallons/minute.

Then I found an app for that. Washington State University Extension’s Garden Hose Flow and Time calculates water flow from a garden hose based on the hose size and its supply pressure. The app’s results validated my bucket test. A typical 5/8” size 50-foot long hose with 50 pounds/square inch supply pressure blasts 25 gallons/minute or 1,500 gallons/hour.

Next, I did a bucket test for an adjustable nozzle. Dispersal was 2.5 gallons/minute, more than enough to refresh container pots when dry, deep-water desert succulents now and then, and supplement new plants for a week or two. And unlike bending an open hose while shifting from one plant to the next, releasing a nozzle’s trigger is watertight. No water escapes without a worthy purpose.

Taking shorter showers, flushing only when necessary, and not pre-rinsing dishes each save a few gallons a day. That is a drop in the bucket compared to thousands of gallons a week saved by banning open hoses. When hand watering is needed, gardening cans or nozzles stop 90+% of the waste.

Water Use Average Gallons Used
Ten-minute shower 25 per shower
Low flush toilet 1.6 per flush
Open hose 25 per minute
Hose with nozzle 2.5 per minute

Old habits die hard, but this is one whose time has passed. Open hoses are incredibly inefficient for plants on drip, and totally unnecessary for surfaces that can be cleaned with brooms or leaf blowers. To nullify any lingering temptation, we even switched from 5/8” diameter hoses to 3/8” diameter coil ones with a nozzle permanently attached.

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