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Pump sprayer, a key tool for gardeners

Hand pump spray for gardening

On the balcony, in the ornamental garden or in the vegetable garden, one accessory proves indispensable: a sprayer. Completely versatile, the sprayer comes in a multitude of models suitable for various uses or areas.

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How to operate a pump sprayer

Regardless of the design or size, a sprayer always includes the following parts:

  • A tank with a volume that ranges from 1 quart to over 5 gallons (1 to 20 liters). Most have seals against leaks.
  • The pressure system, crucial, since that’s what projects a liquid in droplet form. Either you squirt by hand directly or you pump to build up pressure.
  • A hose
  • The trigger
  • A nozzle that usually has several settings: flat or straight jet, a wide spray, high volume or mist
  • A telescopic wand for larger sprayers. This makes it easier to treat tall fruit trees

Some sprayers, relatively heavy, are equipped with wheels to be moved more easily. Others have straps for wearing on the back or shoulder-held with a sling. Manufacturers are getting better at making their designs more ergonomic, especially for larger sprayers.

Lithium batteries now appear in sprayers to treat large areas in a single go, such as an entire lawn or removing moss from a large roof. These batteries, powerful enough to last up to 4 hours, do the pumping in your stead.

More powerful and sophisticated sprayers give the user the ability to adjust pressure with a pressure gauge.

Different types of sprayer

Gardening sprayers, different typesPump sprayers come in a multitude of models, the choice of which depends on your use.

  • A handheld or trigger sprayer has a capacity of 1 quart (1 liter). Use this one only for houseplants, balcony plants and seedlings.
  • Pre-pressurized sprayers operate thanks to a pumping system. Capacity ranges from half a gallon to 5+ gallons (2 to 20 liters). With these, you can cover a whole vegetable garden or ornamental flower bed.
  • Motorized pressure sprayers allow provide constant pressure. This sprayer is ideal for very large gardens or when de-mossing wide areas.

The sprayer, a multi-purpose tool

A sprayer is as useful in the vegetable garden as it is in the orchard, flower bed, and even for courtyard and terrace plant care.

  • Sprayer pump uses in gardeningUse it to apply natural weed killer products derived from pelargonic, acetic, capric or caprylic acid. Spray moss-repellent on slabs of a terrace, in a courtyard or along a path. It is best to schedule such work every year, in spring, on a sunny day without wind nor rain, with temperatures in the 60-80 °F range (15 to 25 °C).
  • This tool is essential for preventive action against fungal diseases and pest insects. A sprayer indeed allows to treat the vegetables of the vegetable garden or the fruits of the orchard with all sorts of manures, infusions, macerations or weedy teas. Likewise, Bordeaux mixture can be sprayed where needed.
  • Small hand sprayers are very useful to mist indoor plants
  • It can also be useful to feed plants with liquid fertilizer
  • If it connected to a telescopic wand, it is an effective solution for watering hanging plants that are set high up. As for handheld or trigger sprayers, they are very useful for watering indoor seedlings of the year’s tomato, zucchini, eggplant…

In general, it is rather advisable to have two separate sprayers, one used for treatments and weeding, and another for watering or fertilizing.

Rules to follow for safe and proper use

Whatever use you will make of your sprayer, it is essential to respect some precautions and common sense rules:

  • Use gloves, glasses, a long-sleeved garment, closed shoes, and a mask to spray biocontrol products, manure or Bordeaux mixture
  • Never do any spraying during flowering periods to preserve bees and other pollinating insects, or auxiliary insects (except perhaps for Bt).
  • Bring your pets indoors during the treatment and for at least 4 hours after the work is done
  • Intervene in the morning or evening and never during peak heat times
  • Respect dosages for biocontrol products and never combine different products in the same sprayer
  • Clean your sprayer well after use

Last but not least: clean it up!

The durability of your sprayer depends on proper cleaning! It is therefore very important to wash it carefully after each use. Similarly, never leave any product inside.

  • Start by filling it with clear water and spray to thoroughly clean the hose, wand, and nozzle
  • Repeat this operation two to three times
  • Open your sprayer and let it air dry.

To preserve seals, coat them with vaseline or grease.

If a nozzle is clogged after use, disassemble the different elements of your sprayer and soak them in water together with baking soda and/or black soap.

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Images: depositphotos: Nina Malyna, photographee.eu, InsideCreativeHouse
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