Anyone who's sprinkled a lawn, washed a car, or filled a wading pool should thank Jan van der Heiden, the Dutchman who invented the first water hose (and nozzle) in 1672. Although his hose was intended for fighting fires, the citizens of Amsterdam were soon hose-watering their thirsty gardens and window boxes, happy to avoid the mean, messy work of lugging the liquid in buckets. More than three centuries later, we still depend on the humble hose to keep our landscape lush.
Hoses of seamless rubber and PVC have long since replaced van der Heiden's sewn-linen (and later leather) tubes. Now the real innovations are happening at the hose ends—with nozzles. These fittings take ordinary tap water and give it a useful shape, be it a mist, a hard stream, or droplets as gentle as a summer drizzle (or all of the above, if you like). Just as helpful, they put the shutoff at your fingertips, so you don't have to walk all the way back to the spigot or kink the end when you're done dousing the daisies. Besides, kinking is hard on a hose, and that's no way to treat such a venerable, beneficial tool.