Before right now, you might have never even heard of yard hydrants. They’re not super high on the radar for most people. However, for a specific set of circumstances, they’re a perfect solution.
Here, we’re going to take you through everything you could possibly need to know about yard water hydrants before adding one to your property. We’ll start with basic definitions and situations where yard hydrants are most useful. Then, we’ll move into more detailed topics: What parts a yard water hydrant contains, how to go about selecting one, and whether you want to install them yourself or have a professional do it, among others. The goal is to help you make an informed decision.
If you’re considering adding a yard hydrant to a property you own or manage, then we’ve rounded up all the initial concerns you might have and addressed them here. Let’s jump in.
We won’t get very far if we don’t answer this most basic question. What exactly is a yard water hydrant, anyway?
When you hear the word “hydrant,” your first association is probably a fire hydrant, the kind of bright yellow things on street corners. The hydrants we’re talking about here are pretty different from those kinds of hydrants. A yard water hydrant might also be called a water pump, a frost- or freeze less hydrant, or an outdoor hydrant. Basically, it’s a piece of plumbing equipment that gets water to an external place, and it drains itself to ground after you turn it off to prevent freezing in the winter. In the simplest terms, it’s an outdoor faucet.
When you need to get water to a semi-remote location on your property, yard hydrants are a great choice. They come in several different varieties for different purposes, as we’ll explain in more detail later.
Now, let’s move into the places where you’re most likely to encounter a yard hydrant.
You probably don’t see yard hydrants too often if you only frequent urban areas. Yard hydrants can typically be found on farms, campgrounds, horse ranches, parks, and other rural properties, but we’ll go into specifics here shortly.
Any more remote location where you need to get water without laboriously lugging it from site to site is a good candidate for yard hydrants. If you need water somewhere a hose won’t reach or there’s no spigot nearby, then you need a yard water hydrant. We dive a little deeper into each of these in the following sections.
Farmers have all kinds of water needs. If you need to get water to animals that don’t have a convenient spigot nearby, a yard hydrant is an obvious solution. You can place yard hydrants around the farm at convenient locations for livestock, crops, holding pens, and any other place where water is important to have handy.
Fresh water is a definite must-have at any campsite, for obvious reasons. Since yard hydrants are usually frost-proof, they make for a great choice because they’re ready to go at a moment’s notice. They’re versatile, and there are few limits on where they can be placed. Large campgrounds can definitely benefit from having strategically placed yard hydrants around, making it convenient for everyone to get water.
Since the grass is pretty much the main draw at any golf course, maintaining it properly is super important. That means lots of watering. A yard water hydrant at the right spots around a golf course can make that huge job a bit easier. Precision is important here, and that’s one reason why yard water hydrants often make a good choice — you have a lot of freedom in where you place them.
These are much the same as campgrounds in many ways. You’ve got a public place where people need access to water. Parks can benefit from yard hydrants both for irrigation purposes and for drinking water (using sanitary yard hydrants), depending on their location. In some cases, they can also be helpful in fire suppression (but they are typically not fire rated like a fire hydrant).
Most residential lots have adequate water access without adding any extra hydrants, but that’s not the case for everyone. Some homeowners with large plots benefit from adding yard hydrants near gardens that need regular watering. Others add one near the driveway so they can have an easier time washing their car.
Placing a hydrant in your yard means you won’t need super long, hard-to-maneuver hoses, and you’ll have an overall easier time with your chores.
Generally, there are three main aspects of a yard water hydrant: The standpipe, the head, and the valve.
The standpipe is a vertical pipe that comes out of the ground. The height will vary a bit from model to model, but they typically stand a few feet tall. On top of that is the head of the hydrant. That’s where the outlet for the water is. Some of them are threaded, meaning you can attach a hose, while others are smooth. This is one of the most important features to keep in mind when you’re selecting a yard water hydrant.
How you operate a yard hydrant can also vary between different models. Some hydrants have a spoked handle that you turn, while others have a long, gripable handle that you raise. The former category tends to be more decorative, while the latter is fairly strictly utilitarian. Different kinds of hydrant heads will dictate how they work.
The final component we’ll mention is inside of the standpipe. This is, of course, the valve. The valve has to sit below the frost line, which means it’s past the point where the ground freezes in the winter. This construction is how the hydrant can function all year long, even in extreme cold, without freezing the pipes.
You have plenty of options when it comes to yard water hydrants. So, you’ll need some ways to narrow it down. A good place to start would be how decorative you want your yard hydrants to be. Some of them are more utilitarian, while others are designed to be more pleasing to the eye and fit in with a more upscale garden.
Think about what you really want out of your hydrant and then go from there. Do you just need something that will get the water to where you need it, or will the standard models stick out to you as a bit of an eyesore?
Then, of course, you want to consider the weather and climate conditions where you live. Most yard hydrants are self-draining, so they’re fit for most places. However, this is something you want to check before making a final decision, especially if you live somewhere that experiences extreme cold.
Another important aspect is what the hydrant is made of. For durability and longevity, you want to avoid cheap plastic construction. These sorts of parts tend to fail more quickly than their metal counterparts.
Also, make sure your hydrant can be attached to the right kind of hose if that’s something you’re planning on using it for. They come in different sizes, and not all of them have the threading required to screw on a hose. A ¾” GHT (garden hose thread) is usually what most end users will want.
Finally, perhaps the most important consideration of all: Are you planning on using the yard water hydrant for drinking water? If so, you’ll need to find a model specifically designed for potable water. These are called sanitary hydrants and are designed not to drain to ground.
You might want to save money by putting the hydrant in the ground yourself, sidestepping the need for a professional to come out to your property and get the job done. However, unless you’re totally confident in your digging and plumbing skills, it’s better to leave this job to the professionals.
You’ll need to dig deep enough that the pipe leading from the water supply to the hydrant is beneath the frost line. Depending on where you live, that could be a lot of digging. Find out how deep the ground freezes in your area and then make sure you’re willing and able to dig a trench that deep. If not, calling in the professionals to install your yard water hydrants is definitely the way to go. They’ll know exactly how to do it properly. That way, you’ll save yourself some major headaches down the line when the weather gets rough.
Fortunately, yard hydrants do not require very much maintenance. And when they do, it should be fairly easy to service them. This can all be done from above ground — no digging required.
Yard hydrants drain to a level below the frost line, meaning you don’t have to worry about their pipes freezing. This is helpful for climates that experience extreme cold temperatures. Warmer areas don’t have to worry about pipes freezing as much, so this is less of a concern in those places.
While freezing shouldn’t be an issue if your yard water hydrants have been installed properly, there are other problems that might arise and require some work. Your hydrant might begin to leak, for example. In that case, you’ll likely need to replace the seat and/or O-rings on the plunger. Staying on top of leaks is important because it prevents freezing issues.
So, to sum this all up, you don’t have to do much to maintain a yard hydrant, besides periodically changing the seat and O-rings on the plunger. You should be able to get many years of good use out of them without too many issues, and those can usually be fixed without much headache. The digging only needs to be done once when initially installing the yard hydrant.
Much like the question as to whether you should have a professional install your yard hydrants to begin with, this one will depend on your comfort level with this kind of work. It’s certainly easier to do most of the typical maintenance or easy fixes than digging deep trenches, though. If you’re moderately handy, you can probably handle most of this on your own.
Like we already said, you should be able to do basic fixes and maintenance without digging the hydrant up or doing anything too invasive. Most people can take care of it themselves, but you do want to be sure you’re doing the job properly. Check if there are any brand-specific instructions and collect all the tools you’ll need to make sure you have everything. As long as those boxes are ticked, then you should be able to take care of basic maintenance on your own.
Regular wear and tear means no hydrant is going to last forever. However, you shouldn’t worry about replacing yard hydrants too often. As we explained in the previous section, you can service your hydrant from above ground if anything needs attention if the yard hydrant you choose has this ability. Digging up the whole thing and replacing it is a much more difficult task and shouldn’t be done unless absolutely necessary.
It’s impossible to say exactly when that replacement will be unavoidable, but you should be able to count on many years of faithful service from your yard water hydrants. This is especially true if you avoid hydrants with cheap plastic parts and instead opt for durable materials like brass and steel.
Now that you’re fairly confident a yard water hydrant is the right choice for your property, refer back to our section about choosing the right hydrant for your needs. Decide what you want and get looking! There are lots of yard hydrant options on the market.
Whether you manage a commercial property like a golf course or just want an extra water outlet in your yard back home, these kinds of hydrants could make your life a whole lot easier. As we’ve explained, there are lots of great benefits to adding one of these pieces of equipment to your water system. They’re versatile, frost-proof, and able to meet a wide variety of needs.
You can start by seeing if any of your different yard hydrant options here at Kupferle will fit your needs.