March 1 2005 12:00 AM

In the world of landscape maintenance, the contractor rarely gets an epiphany. But that’s what happened to Anthony Reynoso the first time he used a new brand of flexible pipe.
As the owner of Anthony’s Landscape and Maintenance in Fallbrook, California, Reynoso had been using other types of pipe when he happened upon a sales rep at his local supply house.

“They did a little vendor show at the supply yard,” says Reynoso, “and I think right then and there I got turned on to it.” The sales rep was introducing this new product and gave Reynoso some samples: a few dozen fittings and a 100-foot roll of pipe. Once he tried the product, he was hooked.

He quickly used up all the samples, and wanted to buy some more, but there was a problem. The product wasn’t yet on the market. He kept calling his sales rep to find out when it was coming out. The secret is out, Blu-Lock is now available through normal distribution channels.

“So what is this miracle pipe?” you ask. It’s called Blu-Lock. The manufacturer describes it as “the next generation in the flexible pipe irrigation market.” It’s a catchy phrase, but what does it mean?

Unlike most flexible tubing that is joined together by barbed, compression fittings installed inside the pipe, Blu-Lock uses a stainless steel retaining ring that grips the flexible pipe from the outside. This permits a quick, easy-to-slide-on fitting instead of the twisting, heating and sore hands often associated with barb fittings. Removing the fitting is just as easy: simply pull back on the release tab.

Currently, ?” and ?” elbows are available, along with adapters, swivel elbows, couplers, tees, and ?” flexible tubing. The company says that since the fitting slides over the tubing, the flow rate is increased by 25 percent. It adds that the fitting’s retaining ring gives it a burst pressure that exceeds 350psi, and a working pressure of 200psi. But what do users say?

Well, you won’t get any complaints from Reynoso. His company specializes in renovating pre-existing irrigation systems. And that often includes moving sprinkler heads around trees and other obstacles, and installing them in hard-to-reach places. It was a chore that bordered on a nightmare; that’s not the case anymore.

“With other flexible pipe, you have to use a little bit of strength to push the fitting into the pipe. Over the course of a day it can get pretty tiring on the wrist,” says Reynoso. “But this is much easier to use; you can almost do it with one hand. I did my sister-in-law’s place, and I had my 12-year-old niece helping me put it together! It’s a lot quicker and a lot less labor intensive.”

“When we’re moving sprinklers,” he adds, “it’s also more cost effective. We don’t have to dig as much; we don’t have to try to finagle pipe around and search for fittings that will work.”

In the past, Reynoso used either regular PVC pipe or other brands of flexible tube. He says that other types of flexible pipe are not as easy to work with, and that hard-piping an irrigation line with regular PVC takes a whole lot longer. He estimates that by using Blu-Lock, he’s cut down his installation time by as much as 50 percent. He adds that it is priced competitively with other products he’s used.

Since it’s relatively new to the market, some landscape contractors may not even know the product is available. Others may be skeptical of its claims. The road of the contractor is often littered with products that say they work wonders, but ended up failing miserably. For the naysayer, Reynoso offers this advice.

“I would just try it and find out for yourself. I understand that people don’t want to change things that have worked for them in the past. So when they see something like this come along, they might think it’s a gimmick. For them, I say cost it out, and see what comes up, as far as saving you time.”

“In our line of work,” he adds, “time is pretty much your business. Whatever you can get done quicker, that prices out for the same cost, it’s going to make you money. That’s the bottom line, making money.” And while Reynoso says he’s one of the few contractors in his area using Blu-Lock, he’s not keeping it a secret. He’s now got his brother, who’s also in the business, using it as well.