Sprayers are a valuable tool in the gardener's tool shed. They provide an easy and efficient method of delivering the right amount of material in the right place.
Garden sprayers allow you to:
Before choosing a garden sprayer, you must identify the problem. Some areas can be spot-treated with small amounts of pesticide, other areas (lawns or large gardens) need a larger-capacity sprayer. Sprayer sizes vary greatly, from 1 quart to 4 gallons, so finding a model to fit various gardening needs won't be hard.
It's recommended that gardeners have at least two sprayers, one for herbicide and one for pesticide. This isn't a sales gimmick; the residue from many herbicides is difficult to completely remove form inside a sprayer tank. This leftover residue could potentially harm other areas if the sprayer is used there. Plus, it's not a good idea to mix pesticides. Make sure you label each sprayer appropriately.
Remember that both synthetic (man-made) chemicals as well as organic materials like dormant oils can be applied with garden sprayers.
Hose-end sprayers are the simplest and least expensive of the category. A sprayer jar is attached to a regular garden sprayer. Concentrated material is added to the sprayer jar. An adjustment on the jar determines the amount delivered. The force of the water through the hose pulls the material up from the jar and mixes and dilutes it with the water. A built-in antisiphon device prevents unused material from being pulled back into your water supply.
Compression or tank sprayers are the most common type of spray equipment. Concentrated material is added to the tank. Water is then added to a marked fill line. The remaining air is pressurized by pumping the handle a designated number of times. A control lever on the wand controls the spray pattern and amount. Compression sprayers provide a precise, on target, nondrift spray good for soil and lawn pests. Adjust the sprayer for a coarse, drenching spray, a concentrated stream or a fine mist.
Tank capacities range from 1 quart to over 3 gallon for handheld models. Homeowner-type backpack sprayers hold up 4 gallons. The tanks may be made from polyethylene plastic, galvanized steel or stainless steel. In addition to treatments for pests and diseases, compression sprayers are designed for applying cleaning solutions for decks and siding.
Backpack sprayers are operated in the same manner as the handheld compression sprayer. The over-the-shoulder configuration makes it easier to carry the heavier load of material. Some backpack models also use a lever-style pump to maintain pressure without removing the unit form your back.
Powered sprayers rely on a gasoline engine for spray power. These are great for larger yards or gardens due to portability and capacity (12 gallons).
Dusters are a slightly different breed. Dry powders (mostly for blooming plants such as roses) are added to a canister and applied by manually pumping.
Note: Compression sprayers deliver liquid under pressure. Compression sprayers are powerful and efficient tools. This fact also makes them potentially dangerous. Always read the manufacturer's instructions and safety precautions carefully.
With all sprayers, make sure the material is suitable for application with a sprayer.
A regular spraying schedule can help prevent many lawn and garden pest and disease problems.