Used by thousands of civilizations since 79 AD, a watering can is a simple, portable container with a spout and handle. It’s used to transport water from a source to plants, flower, and crops in a garden. Apart from watering plants, the watering can has seen numerous technological improvements that make it quite the versatile tool. This includes streamlined designs, diverse spout lengths, seasonal types and many more.
Types of Watering Cans
- Metal Cans – These are the classic type that usually comes with a silver coloured finish. Provided they are galvanized and rust resistant, metal watering cans are the most durable type there is. They won’t break or rust easy no matter the conditions. However, metal cans are a bit heavier to lug around and are usually more expensive.
- Plastic Cans – These are made entirely from plastic and are far cheaper than metal ones. They also have no chance of rusting and are incredibly light. However, they’re not that durable compared to metal cans and could be blown away by the wind on account of being lightweight.
Pros and Cons of Watering Cans
Compared to other types of watering systems such as sprinklers and hoses, using watering cans has numerous advantages. The main benefit that immediately comes to mind has to be the cost. With garden hoses and sprinklers, you have to buy lengthy systems with intricate piping which can get a bit expensive. Watering cans allow for a cost effective way to get water exactly where you need it.
On the downside, watering cans are hands down the most archaic mode of irrigation currently in existence. You have to carry tens or hundreds of litres of water manually to the field and then tip the cans to empty the contents. They may be cheap, but they sure are labour intensive.
Key Features and Considerations when Buying a Watering Can
i) Quality Material
You have to remember that your can will be exposed to the elements everyday. As such, you don’t want an overly brittle plastic can, or a metal can without rust resistance. Even high end watering cans really aren’t that expensive compared to other irrigation systems, so make sure you get one made of high quality materials.
ii) Size and Weight
This is a very crucial consideration when buying a watering can. It wouldn’t make sense to buy a heavy, monstrous steel can for a small ornamental garden. So make sure you match the size to the desired usage for more efficiency.
iii) Comfortable Grip
You’ll be handling your water can manually for lengthy periods of time. So it pays to have as comfortable a grip as possible to reduce hand fatigue and allow for faster watering.
iv) Sprinkler Attachment
Often called a rose, the sprinkler attachment is another crucial feature to consider. A rose is not just a rose, so make sure you choose a sprinkler attachment that suits your specific needs. A fine spray attachment (smaller holes) delivers water gently making it ideal for nurseries and delicate plants while bigger holes deliver more water for quicker watering.
The Best Watering Can Reviews
If you’re looking at this hardy specimen, then I’m guessing you’re already sold on the durability of metal watering cans. Touted as one of the best metal cans in the UK for gardening, the Gardman really did a great job on their 4.5 litre model. This particular can boasts of an all black, galvanized exterior that is as practical as it is durable. Not only will the can stand out in a patch of green, but you don’t have to worry about rusting as well.
The Gardman Metal Watering Can is cleverly designed with a large handle that folds up at the top, and an inanimate side handle that helps you pour water much easily. But it’s the copper coloured trim around the handles that really grabs your eye. It gives the watering can an attractive, heritage look that makes this choice both a useful garden tool and a beautiful yard ornament as well. With a 4.5 litre capacity, the metal can does however feel more suited for smaller home gardens and flower beds.
What I like about it:
- Attractive black and copper exterior
- Robust, galvanized metal construction
- Foldable top handle for more flexibility while watering
There’s a reason why plastic watering cans make for some of the most popular types in many UK households. Not only are they cheap to purchase, but their lightweight nature allows them to be used for long periods or hauls without issue. But you don’t just stick a spout on a thin plastic container and call it a watering tool. If you’re looking to save money both now and in the long run, then the Stewart 2438019 Watering Can is exactly what you need.
As one of the best plastic models in the UK, this particular watering can stands out for more than one reason. For starters, the manufacturer made the can from heavy duty plastic so that it can withstand both abuse from gardeners and the elements as well. At a glance, it even kind of looks like a small tank. The spout is also reinforced with a bar at the middle and more plastic at the bottom to give it more rigidity. At 5 litres, you can get your indoor and outdoor gardening tasks through fairly quick.
What I like about it:
- Made from strong, durable plastic
- Bulging sprinkler head provides more pressure
- Ergonomically positioned handle
When you’ve got a generously sized piece of land dotted with gardens, flower beds, and hundreds of crops, the last thing you need is a teapot sized watering can. To make sure that your plants get as much water as possible, as quickly as possible, you need a watering can built for the job. For all those who have just started their allotment and want to put a personal touch to their water and fertilizer measurements, then the BFC Garden Watering Can fits the bill.
At 57 by 37cm and a whopping 14 litre capacity, the green can from BFC is hands down the best largest model on our list. Much like some high end models, this one is also made from strong quality plastic. But don’t be fooled by the rugged look and sheer size of this watering can. Surprisingly, the plastic construction makes it a fraction of the weight of standard metal watering cans. Combined with the streamlined design and rounded handle that extends all the way to the top, handling this large can is a breeze.
What I like about it:
- Best large watering can in the UK market
- Big, clear markings for water measurements
- Easily detachable sprinkler attachment for trees and large crops
Whether you’re doing gardening as a pleasurable hobby or farming allotments for commercial purposes, one thing’s for sure. You will need to deal with young, tender seedlings and shoots. While your trustee hose might get water to these seedlings, you have to remember that young shoots are very delicate with weak stems and shallow roots. Strong irrigation will just uproot and kill the young fellas. And this is where the best watering can for seedlings and shoots comes in.
The Ward GN357WGN Woodstock Watering Can is a small plastic model with a simple design engineered for one main purpose. And that’s to get enough water gently to your seedlings without disrupting their growing environment. At only 1 litre in capacity, the lighter weight allows you to hover consistently over the tender seedlings without getting tired. The spout itself is made in a conical shape and narrows as it moves to the top to ensure gentle water flow to your crops.
What I like about it:
- Perfect for watering seedlings and indoor use
- Narrower spout for controlled usage
- Smaller capacity allows for extended use
Now here’s a unique watering can that gives you twice as much reach as your ordinary model. For years, Haws has been renowned for their high quality and innovative workmanship. And it clearly radiates from one of their most peculiar yet functional watering cans in the UK. If you’ve been wondering how to get water to those hard to reach areas and make full use of your piece of land, then allow me to introduce the long reach watering can from Haws.
Haws was clearly fed up with the standard length spout that just sprinkles water willy nilly. That’s why this model comes with an elongated spout to reach hidden areas such as the back of your newly built polytunnel, potted plants behind the couch, suspended flowers in the balcony as well as tucked away pots in the patio. That’s right, no more messy water sessions. This model can hold over 5 litres of water and comes with a special rose and down spout for directed, gentle spraying. Overall, the sturdy plastic construction makes it a durable, functional purchase.
What I like about it:
- Lightweight injection moulded plastic construction
- Best long reach spout watering can
- Two gripping points on handle for balance and accuracy
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much water does a watering can hold?
Watering cans come in all shapes and sizes, so the amount yours holds will depend on its capacity. You can get larger and smaller ones, but the standard average watering can capacity is about 10 litres.
Q: How to fix a leak in a metal watering can?
Metal cans are attractive and very practical, but they can, after years of use, suffer from rust and the odd hole. They usually develop leaks in the bottom, around the seal, but can develop holes in other places too.
- Make sure any holes in your watering can are open, by poking the small holes with a toothpick and then filling up the can with water and watching to see where leaking occurs. This makes sure you know where all the holes are, so you can fix them.
- Sand the watering can to make sure there is no rust, then wipe it dry with a clean cloth.
- Apply a thin layer of epoxy repair putty to the holes (there are many different brands of this, so check at your local hardware store who will be able to direct you too the right one for you).
- Leave it to dry, then test the watering can by filling it up with water.
Once the sealing repair putty has dried, there will be no danger of it leaching chemicals into the water, so you don’t have to worry about causing damage to your plants. This quick fix can buy you many more years of use out of your metal watering can, and saves money buying a new one as well as saving more refuse being thrown into landfill.
Q: How to make a watering can out of paper?
A paper watering can, although making one is possible, is not actually very practical. The water will seep into the paper very quickly – it might take a little longer if you use incredibly thick paper, but using a paper watering can as a long term watering solution is not a good idea!
You can make a pretty, decorative watering can using some cut out pieces of paper and a little glue – check out this video if you are interested.