By the end of summer, many a back yard looks like a plate of spinach spaghetti. Green plastic and rubber hoses snake in all directions to tend to thirsty plants. Even if you have a sprinkler system, vegetable gardens, containers and raised beds have needs much different from those of grass monocultures.
Most houses have just one or two exterior faucets, which can mean dragging hoses from place to place all summer long. Tired of slogging around the yard to move hoses and sprinklers, we just routed hoses to central locations like our garden plot. Instead of shifting the hoses several times a week, we leave them in place and route the water flow with a series of Y connectors, using the built-in shut-offs to control the ultimate destination.
We have a number of different Y-connectors in our system, several of which are plastic Gilmour Poly Y’s. As you might expect from the name, this is a Y-shaped plastic pipe that connects water hoses. The upright of the Y is female threaded to attach to the input hose or a faucet, and the arms have male threads for attaching output hoses. The arms have individual ball valves controlled by thumb-turn handle. Align the handle to the arm and the water flows through. Set it crosswise to the arm to stop the flow. You can one valve or both, even close both if necessary. The valves also function as an inline shut-off so you don't have to go to the faucet to turn off the water.
We've used Gilmour’s Y's for years, and know they work just fine in light use. They won't leak as long as the washers remain intact. Unfortunately, the plastic is soft enough that it’s not hard to damage the threads if you cross-thread a metal hose connector; doing this ruins the connector. Gilmour and other manufacturers make brass or aluminum Y connectors. They’re typically more durable and easier to install; but they cost more.
A Gilmour Poly Y Hose Connector is just fine for light or medium use, especially if you just install it and leave it in place for a watering season. One of its main advantages is that it’s inexpensive enough that it’s more or less disposable. We keep a couple in the toolbox as backups, just in case.