By the end of August, anyone who has plants growing in outdoor containers has logged plenty of hours with his or her watering can.
I'm picky about watering cans. What makes a good one? In my opinion:
- First of all, it needs to pour without dribbling or leaking. (It's surprising the number that don't pass this basic test.)
- I also prefer a lightweight can (which generally means plastic) because it will get heavy enough once a couple of gallons of water are added.
- And yes, I prefer outdoor cans that hold two gallons rather than one; less walking back and forth to faucet that way.
- It should be well-balanced -- which means that it's easy to carry and easy to pour.
- I realize that appearance is a personal matter, but if I'm going to spend a great deal of time with a piece of garden equipment, I want it to look good. And if it's a bright color (so I don't accidentally put it down and have to hunt all over for it), so much the better.
All of those are reasons that the watering cans found at my house are usually Dramm 7-liter watering cans. I was initially attracted to them by the bright colors -- yellow, orange, and purple, among others. But what has kept me using them for years is their high quality and the fact that they meet all my criteria for a good watering can.
Dramm watering cans aren't inexpensive, but they do have a lifetime guarantee. (Which I've never had to avail myself of, and I'm really hard on watering cans.)
But when I moved from Massachusetts to the Carolinas last summer, I gave away my Dramm cans to friends who were also the recipients of some of my plants. I figured that I'd earned a couple of new ones.
In search of a new watering can
Then I couldn't find any locally, and I kept putting off ordering by mail. In the meantime, I remembered another watering can that had been sent to me to test, but somehow didn't get moved with us. So I bought one online.
It's called the U Can, and incorporates several nifty features that other watering cans don't. It has a built-in container for fertilizer (dry or liquid), with the lid surrounded by a dial that has the days of the month on it so you can mark the last time you fertilized, or the next time it's due.
The U Can also has a large, sturdy spoon to measure out the fertilizer. Don't think in terms of those free measuring spoons that come free with a box of fertilizer -- this is heavy-duty but attractive in an unfussy Scandinavian sort of way.
The clear vial that the spoon fits into can also double as a cup for measuring fertilizer or other liquids.
I was sure in the beginning that water would get into the fertilizer chamber (I've tested it using a dry plant food as well as a liquid) -- but it never has. This is a well-made can.
Not just garden variety
Two bonuses are that it's made in the United States of recycled plastic.
I didn't realize it until I looked up the U Can's website, but this watering can also has a handy little spot on the front for you to stick your gardening gloves. [See the second photo above; click on the arrow at the base of the first photo.]
Nearby, there's an outcropping on which to store the "rose" (that's the correct name for a watering can's sprinkler head), which I do use all the time.
The U Can's well-designed features have worked well and made my watering chores easier this summer. Admittedly, it's not bright purple. (I bought a green one. As you can see from the photos here, it also comes in blue.)
But for anyone who waters plants in window boxes, hanging baskets, or other containers, it's a gem.
Judy Lowe is a long-time garden writer, the editor of the Monitor's Diggin' It blog, and the author of 11 books. Her latest book shows how to create dozens of interesting herb theme gardens, from herbs mentioned in the Bible and by Shakespeare to a nighttime herb garden to herbs that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.