For the love of a sprinkler

Over the past several years, I have been on the hunt for a decent sprinkler. I started out my gardening career innocently believing that I could just go to the hardware store, buy a sprinkler, bring it home, set it up, and viola, it would work. Not so. I have tried what seems to be every sprinkler on the market and been disillusioned with each and every one of them. In my quest to find one that would work, I have tried seemingly everything on the market: backyard sprinklers, lawn sprinklers, environmentally friendly sprinklers, back-n-forths, round-abouts, heart shaped, bird shaped, free standing sprinklers, stick in the ground sprinklers, stick on a pole sprinklers, even a whirly-gig type sprinkler. Most of them work for a couple/few weeks and then they start getting fussy if not downright useless.

At first, they need a little knock to get them jump started. Then, they move on to the stage of needing readjusting: a little tick here, a wee nudge there, a slight click-clock to realign their plastic parts. Eventually, I’m reduced to taking them completely apart in search of some miracle. I find I’m out there with them adjusting and fiddling long enough that I may as well be hand watering for the time it takes to get these fuss-budgets working. Is there not enough water pressure to keep them moving? Are they clogged? Do they need lubrication? Has a vital plastic bit broken off? I have taking them apart to see if they are clogged, I have lubricated the heck out of them, I have even turned off all other water sources to try to solve the problem.

Just about every fiddle has worked for a few days–if I’m lucky–and sometimes only long enough for me to be satisfied (fooled) into thinking I’ve at last found their ‘sweet spot’ only to come back twenty minutes later–with aspirations of moving them–to find them deeply involved in an earthworks project in the middle of a newly seeded veggie plot.

I don’t recall this problem from my youth. I recall my mother setting up the sprinkler in the yard for a bunch of my friends to come over and play during a hot summer day. Running and jumping through the sprinkler kept us kids entertained for hours. The sprinklers of my youth worked long hard hours for their living. Never do I remember them stopping, getting stuck, or clogged or being generally fussy as the sprinklers of today–and those sprinklers took some abuse! I remember stepping on them, knocking them over, and tripping over them in the quest to stay cool and beat someone else through the rainbow of artificial–yet uninterpretable–rain.

I’ve asked my neighbour about the sprinkler situation and she concurs with me: they don’t make em’ like they used to! She scours garage sales for the ‘old fashioned metal back-n-forth’ type of my childhood past. She also claims that the heavy duty metal ones that go in a circle and back on themselves in a ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr fashion are keepers. In lieu of finding any of the above at garage sales (mostly due to the fact my neighbour treats garage sales like the breath of life itself and beats me to the ‘good stuff’ every time), I’ve bought the present day reproductions of these types only to be disappointed to date.

Last summer, I thought I finally had the answer. My husband went to Vancouver and took up the challenge of finding the fool-proof sprinkler: he brought home two different kinds, and two of the ‘guaranteed to satisfy’ kind. Here was the answer to my watering problems and for the rest of last summer they worked. They are the back-n-forth type, made of plastic, adjustable in the width of the spray coverage and also the depth. I was thrilled and relieved–until this morning. We’ve not had rain now for a few weeks and my garden is in dire need of a good showering. I set the sprinklers up this morning in hopes of quelling the veggie patch’s thirst. However, twenty minutes after setting them up, I was aghast to find one of them stuck in one position and a small farmer’s dugout developing in the middle of the strawberry patch! Ugh.

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2 Comments

Filed under Vegetable gardening

2 responses to “For the love of a sprinkler

  1. We can only hope that as gardening and urban food production become more popular, that cottage industries will spring up to build and repair solidly-made gear. When I think how much abuse my bike takes on a daily basis and keeps moving, it’s hard to imagine that we can’t be building more rugged sprinklers and other tools.

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