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Quick connects help hose do double duty

Oh, it all sounds so facile. And it is. Put quick connects on your hoses and sprinklers to make the job easier.

Finished using the sprinkler on a newly planted bed? Need to begin using the soaker hose on your old beloved dogwood? Click the sprinkler off your water hose and click the soaker hose on. The job is done in 12 seconds.

And it is easy. But first you'll need a few details. All of my first quick-connect hose fitting purchases were broken within a year of use - a good lesson in not acquiring what is cheapest off the rack. How was I supposed to know that plastic or chrome quick connects would easily crack and malfunction?

Then I bought brass quick connects and was very pleased. After a year of satisfaction, I bought more male quick connects, as the products say they are universal. You may have already guessed why I'm sharing this story. The new males wouldn't fit the females. The manufacturers were not compatible.

Was it easy to find more pieces by the original manufacturer? No. And I bought a couple of new females. Things spun out of control, and soon, I couldn't tell which male would go with which female and I was spending inordinate amounts of time quick connecting.

One of the female quick connects was haughty enough to quit working entirely. Her outer brass ring refused to slide down over her ball bearings. Honestly, I thought this was due to my own inadequate female strength.

But then I got into the most interesting conversation with an engineer from the Savannah River Site, a gardener, obviously. His carbon steel ball bearings had frozen in place, rendering them useless. He was excited about discovering a place selling brass quick connects with stainless steel ball bearings. Non-gardeners can never guess how fun it is to have a new, challenging and arcane mission.

Another trick for faster quick connecting is to place a brass shut-off valve at the end of your hose. This saves time by cutting down on walking back and forth to the faucet. You can turn the water on or off wherever you happen to be in the landscape while setting your soaker hose, sprinkler or water wand.

If you don't have an irrigation system, add a brass "Y" connector with shutoff at your faucet for two hoses. Most homes have two faucets outside and this allows you four hoses. Each faucet should have a long hose to reach far into the landscape and a medium or short hose for watering potted plants.

So, the quick-connect story in my garden has begun anew. Out with the old and in with brass quick connects having stainless-steel ball bearings, all from the same manufacturer. Luckily a few of my old males fit the new females.

Don't laugh, you would have tried too. We gardeners are cheap and always looking for an easier way.

Stone Mountain resident Tara Dillard designs, installs and writes about gardens. E-mail her at TaraDillard@agardenview.biz or visit www.agardenview.biz.