Long before hoses, spray nozzles, and sprinklers became standard weapons in the gardener's aqua arsenal, watering cans were the tool of choice. Elegantly styled and often ingeniously engineered, watering cans gave gardeners a reasonably effective way to supplement natural rainfall in the days before modern plumbing. Today, watering cans may not match the raw volume, power, and efficiency of high-tech hydrating gear, but cans do combine portability, precision, and a personal touch that no hose or sprinkler can duplicate.
There's really not much to the average watering can. It's a round, wide-mouth vessel with a handle and spout attached. You fill the reservoir with water, tip the spout toward your target, and let gravity do the rest. Often, the spout's end is fitted with a rose, a perforated disk that converts the stream of water into a showerlike spray. From that basic design, variations in size, shape, materials, and color evolved to fit specific gardening needs and individual tastes.
How big a can you need depends on the job. Smaller watering cans, holding a few pints, are lightweight and narrow-spouted for use indoors or out on the porch, deck, or home's perimeter. They're particularly suited for hanging plants, window boxes, and other high-up or hard-to-reach spots. Larger watering cans, holding as much as 2 or 3 gallons, let you wander out into beds, borders, and the farther reaches of the garden without frequent refills. The 2- to 3-gallon size holds about as much water as most people can comfortably carry, but resourceful gardeners double their watering output by toting a can in each hand. Large cans typically feature two handles for tilting the heavier load without causing hand or arm strain.
Continued on page 2: Where to Water