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Shopping Guide for the Best Garden Hoses

They may look alike at first glance, but garden hoses are not all the same.

In fact, you could visit your local lawn and garden store and find a number of different hose types, each of which performs a particular function.

Choosing the right hose is like choosing the right tool for a job.

Select the wrong type of garden hose, and your job could take twice as long to complete.

At BestReviews, we aim to help you find the right products the first time.

After extensive research, we created a product matrix (see above) containing the best garden hoses for the tasks you may need to perform.

But before you can pick the best garden hose, you need to figure out how you plan to use it, as well as where you are going to store it.

If you want a hose that’s safe to use for drinking water, look for a hose specifically rated to carry it.

That’s where our shopping guide information, found below, can help you. We’ll discuss the different features found in garden hoses that promote fast, efficient work around the yard.

You can rely on the product research we perform here at BestReviews.

We never accept free samples from manufacturers, so our reviews are not biased toward any particular brand.

Our research is extensive, which is especially important for a product like garden hoses. Without the proper research, we can’t help you discern the subtle differences in these products.

Richard
EXPERT CONSULTANT

Richard is a seasoned small business owner in the hardware industry. He also owns a pool maintenance business and serves as an advisor on groundskeeping committees for a number of prominent organizations. He’s a regionally renowned safe cracker/locksmith expert, and in his spare time, he renovates and repairs vaults, safes, appliances, and a number of other products.


Richard  |  Hardware Store Owner, Do-It-Yourself Guru

Garden Hose Diameters

If you’re concerned with water pressure in your outdoor work, the diameter of your garden hose plays a key role. The diameter is the measurement of the opening on the inside of the hose, and it determines how much water the hose can hold.

An empty hose with a smaller diameter weighs less than one with a larger diameter, and it’s easier to move and carry. However, a small-diameter hose may not be able to handle jobs where a lot of water is needed quickly.

The diameters available for garden hoses are as follows:

  • 3/8 inch: These hoses aren’t commonly available. When they are, the manufacturer may label the product as a “coiled garden hose.” They’re designed for light-duty work and are available only in short lengths of less than 50 feet.

  • 1/2 inch: These hoses excel at light-duty tasks like watering flowers or a small garden. Avoid purchasing ½-inch hoses with lengths of greater than 50 feet. The small diameter would not be able to generate enough water pressure to perform well at a longer length.

  • 5/8 inch: The most common diameter for a hose is ⅝ inch. It works well for a large number of tasks, giving it plenty of flexibility for different usage patterns.

  • 3/4 inch: This large-diameter garden hose can tackle heavy-duty tasks where high water pressure is required. The hose works well in lengths up to 100 feet. Note: it’s a heavy hose that some people find difficult to carry.

EXPERT TIP

A 3/4-inch hose will deliver more than double the water of a ½-inch hose.


Richard  | Hardware Store Owner, Do-It-Yourself Guru

Garden Hose Lengths

Although it’s tempting to just buy the longest garden hose you can afford, this isn’t always the best idea. Longer hoses cost more than shorter hoses. This means you could be wasting money on a hose that’s longer than you actually need.

Additionally, a longer hose can be heavy to move, and it requires more storage space. What’s more, you may not receive adequate water pressure if you’re using a longer hose.

The standard available hose lengths are as follows —

  • 25 feet: This length is best for areas around a deck or in a small garden near the water spigot.

  • 50 feet: This length would suit a large garden near the water spigot or a medium-sized yard.

  • 75 feet: Choose this length if you have a large yard where you need to move a sprinkler to numerous locations.

  • 100 feet: We recommend this length for extremely large yards and locations where you have only one spigot. Make sure you have plenty of water pressure to use this length of hose.

DID YOU KNOW?

An expandable hose will uncoil itself as it fills with water. It then collapses to a flat state when the water is drained from it.

Garden Hose Materials

The type of material used in the construction of a hose affects its durability and weight. Materials also determine the price of a particular hose.

Here’s a look at the most common materials found in garden hoses —

  • Vinyl: A vinyl hose typically weighs and costs less than hoses made from other materials. Consequently, it’s not as durable as other hoses. Some manufacturers reinforce the interior with a radial cord to try to strengthen it. Still, hoses made of vinyl tend to kink or crack more easily than hoses made of other types of materials.

  • Rubber: A rubber hose weighs more than other hose types. It’s a heavy-duty hose that can withstand tough environments under high water pressure or when using hot water. If you want to use a long-length hose, rubber is recommended.

Rubber hoses are the most durable, and they work well in all types of weather conditions.

Staff
BestReviews
  • Vinyl/Rubber: A vinyl/rubber combination hose is a great “compromise” option with a mid-range price. It’s designed for an average workload.

  • Polyurethane: Hoses made of polyurethane are rare. This type of hose is often marketed as safe for drinking water. Humans and pets shouldn’t drink water from hoses made of rubber or vinyl; such hoses can leach lead or plasticizers into the water.

  • Nylon/Collapsible: Also called an expandable garden hose, this type of hose collapses flat when no water is in it. When you connect it to a spigot and water flows through it, it expands to roughly three times its original size. To maintain the flexibility needed, this type of hose sports an outer layer of nylon. The inner tube that carries the water is typically made of elastic rubber.

EXPERT TIP

A nylon/collapsible hose is best for light-duty work, as it can puncture easily after it expands. After collapsing, it’s easy to store and carry.


Richard  | Hardware Store Owner, Do-It-Yourself Guru

Garden Hose Couplings

All hoses come with couplings — metal or plastic connectors that are attached to both ends of the hose. The type of couplings on your hose can affect how well it works for you.

If you choose a hose with cheap couplings that leak easily, you could end up wasting a lot of water. And if the coupling attached to the spigot on your house leaks, your home’s foundation could sustain expensive water damage over time.

Here’s a look at coupling types —

  • Plastic: Plastic couplings are the cheapest you’ll find on a garden hose. They’re prone to leaking, as it’s difficult to tighten them properly. Wide temperature variations can also cause them to crack. If you’re going to use a hose for watering the lawn all day, the risk of leakage of a plastic coupling is too great. But if you’re only using the hose for a couple of minutes per day, you could save some money on a plastic coupling.

  • Aluminum: An aluminum coupling is sturdier than a plastic coupling. However, because it’s made of thin metal, you could inadvertently bend it out of shape. Some aluminum couplings are round, while others have six sides, making them easier to twist on and off the spigot.

  • Brass: A brass coupling is the best type to use with a heavy-duty hose. You can identify a brass coupling because it often has an octagonal or hexagonal shape on its exterior. (This is not always the case, though; some brass couplings are round.) A brass coupling is thick, meaning it will hold its shape and last several years, even if you treat it roughly.

If an aluminum coupling sustains even the slightest bend, it will no longer attach to the spigot without leaking. But as long as you’re careful with it (don’t step on it, don’t use tools on it), it should serve you adequately for several years.

Staff
BestReviews

Tips

  • Always drain your hose completely before storing it.
  • A garden hose reinforced with mesh lining can handle high levels of water pressure.
  • Some hose manufacturers will list the burst pressure of their products. Anything over 300 psi should be adequate for most uses at home.
  • If you want an easy-to-carry hose for light-duty jobs, consider an expandable garden hose. But if you need a hose that can sustain high water pressure for long periods of time, consider a different material.
  • Vinyl hoses are cheaper than other types, but they’re also less durable. You may wish to opt for vinyl if you need it only for light-duty tasks.
  • Don’t let humans or pets drink from hoses made from vinyl or rubber, as dangerous chemicals could leak into the water stream.
  • A soaker hose is one that contains small holes, where water drips slowly from the holes. It’s best used in small garden areas.
  • Garden hoses constructed from polyurethane are safe to drink from and they’re extremely durable.
  • Hoses made of a vinyl/rubber combination tend to fall in the “mid-range” in terms of price. If you don’t need the extreme durability of a rubber hose but want something better than vinyl, this could be the right material for you.
  • If you must transport hot water through a garden hose, one made of rubber materials is best.
Leaving a hose exposed to the sun and UV rays can shorten the hose’s lifespan.

FAQ

Q. Is it dangerous to store a garden hose with water in it?

A. Storing or leaving a garden hose with water in it threatens both your health and the longevity of the hose.

  • Be aware that if you’re going to drink from the hose or give your pet a drink, the water stored in the hose could become contaminated with bacteria over time.

  • If you store a hose for the winter with water in it, the water could freeze. This could lead to cracks and other damage, thereby shortening the life of the hose.

  • Even if it doesn’t freeze in your area, water left inside a hose could draw insects. Ants may even try to build a nest inside the hose.

Q. How do I avoid having kinks in my garden hose?

A. Bending or kinking not only cuts off water flow, it also threatens the longevity of the hose. A kink that is allowed to persist can cause the bent area to wear out prematurely. This worn area could burst or crack under water pressure.

Hoses with less flexibility will kink less often. For example, as a hose that’s reinforced with a mesh layer resists kinks better than some other types. Garden hoses that are designed not to kink will be stiff, though, which can make them difficult to carry and coil.

Q. Are expandable garden hoses worth the money?

A. Expandable garden hoses work well for certain types of jobs. If you’re looking at a short hose for quick jobs, an expandable unit is a terrific option. It’s also great for carrying from spigot to spigot, because it doesn’t weigh much. And in its collapsed state, it’s easy to store.

Q. If my garden hose is leaking, do I have to replace it? Or can I fix it?

A. You might be able to fix a leaking garden hose, depending where the leak is occurring.

If a leak originates from a crack or puncture in the hose itself, it’s time to replace it. However, if the leak originates where the coupling attaches to the spigot or the sprinkler, inspect the coupling closely. If it is bent out of shape (even slightly) or has a crack, the leaking hose is probably not fixable. (You may be able to replace some couplings on heavy duty hoses, but this requires time, know-how, and expense.)

If you don’t see damage on the couplings, try replacing the washers. A flexible rubber washer will stop leaks. Some garden hoses ship with inflexible plastic washers that don’t work well. Pro tip: if the rubber washer is older than one year, replace it with a new one.

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