With drip irrigation systems, specialized hose-end nozzles and various automatic irrigation methods, water has become high tech. And, for good reason. These high-tech devices help gardeners save time, help communities save water and help plants by delivering the water right where they need it. However, perhaps the best watering device ever invented is the oldest and most low-tech: the watering can.
The watering can is the ultimate water saver because it allows gardeners complete control over how much water to provide to plants and allows them to water individual plants at the root-zone where it is most beneficial, without any water going to waste. A garden hose with a spray nozzle attachment provides similar benefits, but hoses drip, can be difficult to maneuver and only reach so far. The portability of the watering can is perhaps its greatest advantage.
No matter the size, location or type of garden, every gardener needs a watering can. Although a watering can is low-tech, that doesn't mean they are all the same. When you buy a watering can, consider the following:
Watering can capacity: Watering cans come in all sizes and each size has its benefits. Small watering cans are lightweight and great for watering small plants such has many house plants. One gallon of water weighs 8 pounds, so think about how many pounds you can carry around before you buy a four-gallon, 32-pound watering can.
Small watering cans can require more frequent trips to a water supply, of course. Considering buying two watering cans, one for each hand. This will minimize the back-and-forth and might also save your back. Two one gallon watering cans provide a large amount of water and can be easily carried by most gardeners. If you garden in leau of going to the gym, maybe buy a pair of two-gallon watering cans. The problem with watering cans bigger than two gallons is even if you can carry them, they are cumbersome to use. The control a watering can is supposed to give you can be lost in the struggle to point the can at a plant's roots.
Watering can design: There are several important design aspects to watering cans. Consider the handle. A handle built for two-hands is best because it will give you full control over the watering can. The watering can should have a grip at the top for easy carrying and also a grip on the back side, which is will help with control. Both grips should be comfortable and ergonomic.
The watering can spout is also crucial and the type of spout you need will vary based on what you need to water. Long, thin spouts are great for plants in small pots and plants in hard-to-reach places, such as deep into beds and hanging baskets. Watering cans with shorter, fatter spouts work fine for larger and easier to reach plants and provide more water quicker.
Watering can rosette: A rosette is the part of the watering can at the end of the spout where the water is dispersed. Rosettes divide the stream of water into many smaller streams, which provide for a gentle, rain-like application of the water. This is great for watering tender plants, such as seedlings, but also prevents soil erosion and is great for giving plants foliar feedings of organic fertilizer. Not all watering cans come with a rosette, and you do not always want one. For example, when you need a small amount of water in a very specific area, such as a small pot, a rossete may not be ideal because it spreads the water out over too large of an area. A rossete can also make it harder to work the can into tight places. The best watering cans come with a detachable rosette, so you can use it and take it off as needed.
Watering can marerial: Watering cans used to be primarily made out of either galvanized steel or copper. Now, most watering cans are plastic, but you can still find metal ones. Plastic watering cans are usually cheaper, and they are also lighter. However, they are more prone to breakage. Metal watering cans tend to be more durable and decorative. Many serve as works of art when not in use, making them suitable for storage right in the garden among their plants.
There is a lot to think about when buying a watering can and if you have a lot of plants and at least several types of plants, chances are you will need more than one watering can. Fortunately, there is a watering can for every plant and every gardener.