Expandable hoses are a new addition to the gardening industry. When pressurized, these light hoses expand up to three times their original length. These products are popular with those with limited space, find lugging a garden hose around the garden difficult, and hate it when a hose gets a kink.
So, can you use a sprinkler with an expandable hose? While you can technically use a sprinkler with an expandable water hose, it is not advised. Expandable models increase in length when they are filled with water, which tends to move the sprinkler around when turned off and on, potentially damaging the lawn. Securing the sprinkler is a possible solution.
Expandable hoses are a revolution in their industry, but there are some issues with these hoses when used as part of a sprinkler-based irrigation system. If setting up sprinklers is the primary use of the hose, a traditional water hose is probably a better option.
An Expandable Hose Could Damage Your Lawn
Expandable hoses have many benefits that make them attractive. However, by their very nature, they expand when water is pumped through them. If you have your sprinkler attached before you connect the water, then the sprinkler will move through your garden until the hose has reached its maximum length.
As the expandable hose generally elongates to about three times its original length when pressurized, this can cause a lot of damage to your foliage. The same destruction will occur once the water is turned off and the hose contracts. To avoid some of this friction damage, you can turn the water on before placing the hose. However, the same problem exists once you disconnect the water.
A feature of expandable hoses is that they self-drain. Such a feature is terrific for many purposes, but not necessarily ideal if you are watering your garden with a sprinkler. As the hose contracts, water will pool around the sprinkler while it has scraped across the topsoil. A consequence of this, some areas of your garden will get far more water than others, and the soil in the sprinkler’s path will suffer a more considerable disturbance due to the excess water.
While these issues are minimal in a single-use, over time, they could cause real injury to your yard or garden. Be mindful that in hot climates, lawns need to be watered at least once a day, often more frequently.
You Have to Remain Vigilant
If you are a person who likes to set something up and then walk away, then an expandable hose isn’t the option for you. Each time you turn the water on, the sprinkler will move to a different position. In a network of hoses, there could be several areas that do not get any water at all, and the inverse is also true; some areas will get too much water. The effect of inconsistent watering over the course of months could severely affect your lawn or garden’s health.
A traditional garden hose is probably best for a stationary sprinkler. Although it is heavier and thus more challenging to maneuver, it retains its position when the water is turned on and off. This prevents the sprinkler from moving across the grass when the water pressure is released. Ultimately, a normal hose will protect the lawn or your flowers around the sprinkler far better.
I highly recommend getting a Giraffe garden hose (click to see Amazon listing) for sprinkling lawns. They are more robust than normal hoses so they won’t kink easily. You also don’t have to worry about the sprinkler moving around when you turn them off and on.
Expandable Hoses Aren’t as Durable
Expandable hoses consist of two tubes, with one housed inside the other. The outer tube is usually made from nylon, and its function is to protect the inner tube. Nylon is a favorable material because it is flexible, durable, lightweight, and can scrunch easily.
The inner tube holds the water and consists of either latex or thermoplastic copolyester (TCP). Latex is more durable than TCP; therefore, it is the most popular material used in expandable hoses. Many hoses now use multiple layers of latex, four isn’t uncommon, to give the most strength. Unfortunately, despite technological advances, at high pressures, the inner tube of expandable hoses can fail.
Consequently, such failure produces leaks and holes in the tubing, rending the hose useless. If you opt for an expandable hose, make sure you get the highest quality hose possible. Otherwise, it won’t be long before it needs replacing.
Due to their fragility, most users do not turn the water pressure all the way up on their hoses. Low water pressure can result in inadequate sprinkler systems that do not spray water effectively over the intended area. Furthermore, low water pressure will also cause the hose not to expand fully, meaning its placement will not be correct or consistent either.
Benefits of Using an Expandable Hose
There are several benefits to an expandable hose that makes them highly attractive products to consumers.
- Expands up to three times its length when water pressure is applied
The main benefit of hose expansion is that it takes up less space to store the hose. A small footprint makes storage on a wall easier or less cumbersome when you want to move the hose from one location to the next. The expansion hose makes portability a reality.
- Weighs five times less than a traditional garden hose
A significant reduction in weight is a substantial benefit to using an expandable hose. Traditional garden hoses are made from rubber, which results in a heavy product before it is filled with water. For the frail, or injured lugging something dense like rubber around your garden is a barrier that the lightweight expandable hose can overcome.
- Self-contracts to its original length when the water is turned off Putting away a recently used hose is a lot of work. The hose’s weight, combined with the water inside it, makes it difficult to move. Having a third of the length of hose to deal with makes the task far more manageable. That, combined with expandable hose’s other features like self-draining and being constructed of lightweight materials, make this a game-changing feature.
- Self-drains itself after use
One of the most challenging elements of dealing with a hose is trying to drain it after use. Emptying a hose usually involves winding or moving it around at various angles to drain the water. However, in expandable hoses, from the moment the water is turned off, it contracts, draining the liquid contained within it in the process. This is possible due to latex that makes up the inner tube contracting once it is depressurized.
- Never tangles, twists or kinks
Hoses are notorious for developing kinks and twists during their lifetime. Once they are formed, that area of the hose is automatically weaker and prone to kinking in that area time and time again. Kinks are frustrating as they lead to a loss of flow and need to be manually corrected. Due to the materials used in expandable hoses (latex and nylon), it cannot kink or twist. As a result, you will never have a loss of flow while using an expandable hose.
For many purposes, expandable hoses are highly beneficial and a vast improvement over the standard garden hose. It makes tasks like watering plants, washing a car, or filling a paddling pool far easier. However, by design, they have limitations. A clear one is that they are not suited to any permanent watering or irrigation system.
Expandable garden hoses have many benefits, including portability and ease of storage. For many uses, such as watering plants, cleaning cars, and driveways, it is an excellent hose of choice. However, as expandable hoses expand and contract when water pressure is applied and removed, respectively, they are not best suited for sprinkler systems.
Here are my favorite tools for keeping the grass as green as possible:
Why Does Latex Expand When Pressurized?
Latex is commonly thought of as a particular form of rubber. Most latex sold in North America is blended latex, meaning it comprises of both natural and synthetic latex. Latex’s composition is 55-65% water, with the remaining being rubber-like material. During manufacturing, Sulphur, carbon black, and oil are added. These additions make the latex more durable, stretcher, and resistant to temperature changes. The result is that once pressurized, by water running through it, e.g., is the monomers in this mix stretch, but do not break due to the stabilization from the Sulphur and carbon black. Once the pressure is turned off, the chemical bonds relax and contract. If you are ever wondering what is happening inside your expandable hose, think of blowing up a balloon with air. It is precisely the same process, but with water rather than air.
How Long Do Expandable Hoses Last?
Provided you purchase a high-quality expandable hose and you look after it, it should last around ten years. Of course, this estimation depends on how often and what you use your hose for. The latex inside an expandable hose is not as durable as the rubber in traditional hoses, so it will not tolerate high water pressures flowing through it frequently. If you plan on using your hose weekly, even daily, purchase one with as many latex cores as you can afford to elongate its lifetime.
Can You Fix an Expandable Hose?
Expandable hoses are prone to leaking around the fittings. Instead of replacing the tube, you can perform a manual repair. A simple method is to cut the ruptured inner hose out and attach the existing fitting to the undamaged inner hose. As most fittings are barbed, you shouldn’t need any additional sealants to prevent a leak as the latex will expand around the joint.