When it comes to garden hoses, there are a few different ways to do the same job
WHETHER YOU ARE READY to water your lawn, toss a sprinkler out on the lawn, or wash your car, one of the first things you need is a good garden hose. You might think this would be an easy task since just about every department store sells them. But, if you want the best garden hose for your money, you need to know what to look for.
So, let’s start by talking about what it takes to make a top-quality garden hose and which hoses are best for each particular application. I found that there are hoses made for general purposes that can be used for just about anything and then there are those that are made more for specific purposes. It is far too easy to buy the cheapest hose you can find, but if you want the best garden hose, you should be prepared to spend a little more of your hard-earned cash.
The amount of money you spend on your garden hose will have a direct impact on how long it is likely to last for you. If you shop for quality and don’t scrimp on the price, a good hose should last for anywhere from 5 to 10 years or even more. A cheap one is likely to crack, rip, and end up leaking in a very short period of time.
Now, let’s go over what you should be looking for if you want to get the best garden hose for your money.
Of all the things you should be concerned about when buying a garden hose, the material it is made from should be your prime consideration.
This classic example is a reinforced vinyl hose
Hoses made from these materials are typically the least expensive. They are lightweight, which makes them much easier to handle and to store. The problem with vinyl is that hoses made from this material (even those that are reinforced) tend to crack, split, and kink easily.
They are also easily damaged from being left out in the hot summer sun and the cold winter months. If you are on a very tight budget, at least go for one that is reinforced.
Rubber hoses tend to last a little longer and can take more wear and tear
Hoses made from rubber make a better choice as they tend to be very strong and offer you a much longer lifespan. At the same time, they are typically more expensive. More than this, they are significantly heavier than vinyl hoses. Rubber hoses can handle hot water, won’t kink, and are more resistant to cracking and splitting. When you want a hose that is going to last for many years, rubber is your best choice.
Hoses that are listed as “reinforced” are usually made from at least two layers or “plies” with a nylon or cotton mesh sandwiched between them. They can be made of either vinyl or rubber and are stronger and less likely to kink. However, there is a myth surrounding hoses with numerous plies. Some would have you believe that the more plies a hose has, the stronger it will be. The reality is that the number of plies is not as important as the materials they are made from.
One very important note you may be aware of is that today’s vinyl and rubber hoses have been found to leach toxic chemicals into the water flowing through them. If you plan to drink water out of any hose you buy, be sure to buy one that is labeled as “safe for potable (drinking) water.
The most common lengths for garden hoses are 25, 50, 75, and 100 feet. Your first temptation might be to buy a hose that is longer than you really need, just in case you need the extra length. Unless you actually need a 100-foot hose, buying one just means you have more weight to lug around your garden. Not only this but now you also have to find somewhere to store all of this extra hose. Depending on your water pressure, you may find a longer hose results in a loss of pressure at the nozzle end.
How do you determine how much hose you need? It’s really easy, all you have to do is measure from your outdoor spigot to the furthest place you need to deliver water. Now that you have this measurement, simply buy a hose that is slightly longer to give you room to move the hose around and use it without kinks. Keep in mind that if you need more than 50 feet of hose, you will be better off buying two 50 foot hoses as they will be easier to move around and store.
The diameter of the hose is important for water consumption, but also for your fittings and connections to sprinklers, nozzles etc.
Garden hoses come in three main sizes, these are 1/2", 5/8", and 3/4" and represents the inside diameter of the hose. The larger the inside diameter of the hose you choose, the more water it will be capable of carrying.
Of these sizes, the most common are the 5/8" hose as it offers good pressure and plenty of water flow. Bear in mind that the larger a hose is in diameter, the heavier it is going to be, no matter what material it is made from.
Brass fittings don't crack, fade, warp or change shape when exposed to weather and general wear and tear
When it comes to fittings, the best garden hoses have brass fittings. However, you will find many cheap hoses come with plastic fittings. You should avoid these at all costs as the plastic couplings are prone to cracking, breaking, and leaking. In many cases, you simply cannot tighten these fittings properly for fear of breaking them, this results in constant leaking. Plastic fittings are also susceptible to damage by the sun's UV radiation.
Chrome plated metal fittings are slightly better than plastic as they stronger, but many will rust and fail if left out in the yard all year long. Brass fittings are thicker and typically have an octagon shape. These are the most durable and you can use a wrench to tighten them and prevent leakage.
No matter what type of fittings your hose comes with, the best way to prevent leakage is to be sure you use the rubber washer at both ends. You should also look for hoses that have a sleeve at the spigot or "female" end to help reduce the chances of the hose kinking. The sleeve can be made of nylon mesh, a metal coil, or thick rubber, these hoses may cost more, but you will find they are worth the money.
Although you can buy just about any hose on the market and use it to move water around your yard or garden, some hoses are better suited to particular jobs or climates. Rather than simply looking at all of the hoses and which of them make the best garden hoses, I am going to break the hoses down into different categories and look at the best ones in each.
This is a somewhat unique category and one that usually involved cheap "As Seen On TV" hoses, which is why I really didn’t have much to say about them. These hoses are designed to expand either in diameter, length, or both. The problem with most of the hoses in this category is that they are poorly made from cheap materials. However, here is one I can actually recommend:
This may be one of the strongest expandable hoses on the market and is made from three layers of latex rubber that won't split or burst. The design prevents kinking, twisting, and binding. It is fitted with solid heavy-duty brass couplings on both ends. This is a good all-around hose that can be used to water your garden, run the sprinkler, or wash your car.
|Expands from 25 to 75 feet||Expanding to 75 feet can be too much hose|
|Heavy-duty brass fittings||Expensive|
|Easy to store, kink free, very durable||Hose may puncture more easily than a solid rubber hose|
These hoses are good for anyone who can't or doesn't want to lug a heavy duty hose around the yard. They come in all lengths and in all diameters. But the most important thing to remember is that they are light duty and not made to stand up to things like being drug through rocks, run over, or being left out in the sun. Here are two of my favorites.
Just because this is rated as a light-duty hose, doesn't mean it isn't up to the job. It is perfect for light garden and yard watering. It features a 3-ply construction and the manufacturer's Water Guard Leak Free® construction and solid brass fittings. The inside diameter measures a full 5/8" and offers 280 psi burst strength. At 50 feet long this hose only weighs 5 1/2 pounds and is fully UV resistant to prevent cracking and splitting.
|Very light only weighs 5.5 pounds||Flimsy construction|
|Solid brass fittings||Kinks easily|
|Triple-ply construction||Hose punctures easily|
If you are looking for a super-strong lightweight (it only weighs 4.7 pounds) garden hose, this might be just what you are looking for. The hose is made from Gilmour's Flexogen Adventage®8-layer hose right here in the U.S. and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. This hose is perfect for use in any climate from freezing cold in the winter to the hottest summer days without breaking down. The 8-layer construction helps to prevent kinking from the spigot to the end of the hose.
|Very Light at 4.7 pounds||Couplings may start leaking over time|
|Perfect for hot, sunny climates||Thick construction not very flexible|
|Lifetime warranty||Hose will kink easily away from the spigot|
These are at the other end of the scale but have much more to offer. They may cost more, but offer long life, better weather resistance, and are impervious to cracking, splitting, and punctures. They are great for use in the driveway as you can drive over them without causing damage.
How many hose manufacturers can sell a heavy-duty hose that is guaranteed not to kink or tangle when you are using it. IT features lead-free all-aluminum couplings that are completely crush-proof and a heavy gauge power coil to prevent kinking at the spigot. It is designed to remain flexible at temperatures as low as 45 degrees. This is a commercial grade heavy-duty hose being offered at homeowner hose pricing.
|Guaranteed not to kink or tangle||Coupling at the spigot end leaks|
|Remains flexible at 45 degrees||Not as kink free as described|
|Made with Microshield® antimicrobial protection||Hose material may develop bubbles or leaks|
There is nothing worse than pulling your garden hose along as you water your garden and suddenly have the spray die because the hose kinked. With this hose from Tuff-Guard, you never have to worry about kinks due to its unusual design. Despite the fact it is 100 feet long, this hose is very lightweight and easy to move around the yard with. Provides you with great water pressure and so easy to use even your younger kids can haul it around. The all metal fittings are designed for ease of use and simply don't leak.
|Double Helix design means no kinks||Some issues with metal fittings coming off|
|Solid metal fittings will not leak||Expensive|
|Very lightweight||Cannot use standard repair parts|
This is the final category and covers the types of hoses typically used by commercial landscapers, car washes, and those in the construction industry. They tend to be very heavy-duty as these hoses have to stand up to a lot of use and abuse.
When you need a hose that can deliver plenty of water, this one from Neverkink may be just what you need. It is made using the latest NTS® reflex mesh technology that not only eliminates kinks, but also tangles and twists. The inside is made using MicroShield® anti-microbial protection that prevents both mildew and mold. As a contractor grade hose, this one has a burst rating of 500 psi and industrial grade fittings on both ends with a crush rating of 1400 lbs.
|3/4-inch diameter delivers plenty of water||Very heavy|
|Crush proof fittings||Tends to be stiff and hard to roll up on hose reel|
|Kink, twist, tangle proof||Expensive|
Not all garden hoses, are made to handle hot water. But then how many people water their gardens using hot water? This hose from Apex features all rubber construction that is perfect for use with hot or cold water, It has all brass fittings and a rigid sleeve to prevent kinking at the spigot. The fittings are leak-proof using the latest in SealFast™ technology. Best of all the hose comes with a lifetime guarantee.
|Can handle hot water to 180° F||Hose tends to kink when using hot water|
|Leak-free brass fittings||Female coupler small and difficult to tighten by hand|
As you can see there are lots of hoses to choose from and a lot of things to consider. In my mind, the best garden hoses are those that won't kink, deliver plenty of water, and are still light enough to move around the yard easily. For my yard and garden, I picked the NeverKink Commercial Duty Pro 100-foot hose as it does the job for me. Be sure to buy a hose that is a little longer than you need as this will give you room to maneuver around the yard and avoid dragging your hose in a way that might damage your plants.
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