How To Use a Hose-End Sprayer
Hose-end sprayers are a great tool for spraying liquid garden products. You need to know a little bit about how they work or you will undoubtedly have a problem with over or under-applying your products.
A hose-end sprayer is simply a tool that siphons out products from a bottle and mixes the product with water for easy spraying . All hose-end sprayers designed for use with liquid products (not powders or granules) work in a similar fashion.
When you turn the sprayer on, water passes through the spray head on top of the bottle and shoots out the other end. A s the water moves through the top of the spray head, it creates a suction or vacuum that siphons the liquid product up the tube to the top of the spray head. There, and not in the bottle , it mixes with the hose water and gets sprayed out. Most hose-end sprayers have a knob or button that allows you to close off the hole on the siphon tube so you can spray water only if desired.
The size of the hole underneath the spray head will determine how many ounces (or teaspoons) of liquid product will be siphoned up for every gallon of water that you spray . Sprayers will have either just one hole underneath, or they will have multiple holes (or settings) that you can choose from.
Adjustable hose-end sprayers have a dial on top that allows you to choose from multiple hole sizes, ranging from as low as 1 teaspoon per gallon to 8 oz per gallon.
Adjustable hose-end sprayers allow you play around with different setting or to mix a product with water an exact specific rate if needed. They generally are very easy to fill and easy to use. And, as you will see below, they allow you to spray out your products faster or slower.
Many hardware stores carry their own brand. You can usually find the Ortho Dial N Spray or a Gilmour Select N Spray at one of the big box stores.
Pre-set or Fixed Rate sprayers are usually found on RTU (Ready-To-Use) products. There is just one hole in the spray head so it always siphons out at the same rate.
An example of a Fixed Rate sprayer is the hose-end applicator we use for our liquid lawn aeration product called Aerify PLUS , there is a small hole on this that siphons out just 1 1/2 oz of product per gallon of water.
Since this bottle hold 32 ounces of product you would need to spray 32 gallons of water out over your lawn or garden to empty it.
If you have a hose-end sprayer in your garage that says something like "20 Gallon Sprayer", that tells you it is a fixed rate sprayer that will empty out after spraying 20 gallons of water. A "10 Gallon Sprayer" empties after spraying just 10 gallons. Our Aerify PLUS sprayer would then be called a 32 gallon sprayer.
APPLYING THE CORRECT AMOUNT OF YOUR PRODUCT
Most garden product labels will recommended applying a certain amount of the product per every 1000 sf. But all hose-end sprayers are set up to siphon out in ounces per gallon- not ounces per 1000 sf. So, how do you go about getting the right amount of ounces per 1000 sf applied?
The key fact you need to know about hose-end sprayers is this:
The amount of product that gets sprayed out on a lawn is determined by both the sprayer hole (oz per gal) setting , and by how many gallons of water you actually spray on the lawn as you do an application.
And, because everyone walks at a different speed, sprays a wider or narrower swath and has different water pressure, there is always going to be some trial and error when using a hose-end sprayer.
Here is our advice on how to apply products with either a fixed rate sprayer or an adjustable hose-end sprayer :
Before you start spraying, get an approximate idea of the total area (in square feet) that is going to be sprayed. Walk it off heel-to-toe if necessary and measure length times width to get the area.
Once you have the total area, figure out how much of the product you should use. For example, if your yard is 4,000 sf and you want to apply our Aerify PLUS at 4 oz per 1000 sf rate, you want to use 16 oz total on your lawn.
Attach your garden hose to the sprayer. Turn your water on at about ½ to ¾ pressure for best functioning of the sprayer. You can turn the sprayer to the Water Only setting while you get the pressure right.
If you are using a fixed rate sprayer, turn the sprayer to ON (MIX). If you are using an adjustable sprayer, set it to 1 oz per gallon (for Aerify PLUS) or whatever the recommended sprayer setting is on the label of the product you are using. Walk at a slow to normal pace moving your wrist side to side enough to spray a 6-8 wide swath over the lawn (or gardens). Spray enough to make sure all areas get wet on top. You do not have to soak these areas at this time. You can water it in later.
After you have sprayed a small area, say ¼ or ½ of the lawn, stop and check to see how much of the product you have used up. Figure out if you have sprayed too much or too little based on how much area has been treated. For example, if you have treated about 2000 sf and you want to apply at 4 oz per 1000 sf, you should have used approximately 8 oz (or 1 cup) of the product.
If you have used too little, you need to walk at a slower pace when spraying and/or spray a narrower swath. If you are using an adjustable sprayer you can simply increase the spray setting and walk exactly like you did the first time. Test another area re-adjust as needed.
If you have used too much, you need to walk faster and/or spray a wider swath. If you are using an adjustable sprayer you can turn it down to a lower setting.
If nothing or very little has come out of the sprayer check to see that the siphon tube is still connected. If there is a filter tip on the end of the tube, make sure it is not clogged. Our filter tip can be cleaned out with a large paper clip.
As we said, there is always some trial and error when you spray with a hose-end sprayer. Even commercial lawn spray technicians have practice and make adjustments to get their walking speed and spray pattern down correctly. It gets easier after you have done it once or twice.
Hope this has been helpful.
President of Nature's Lawn & Garden, Inc
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