Question: I’m looking to buy a garden hose and want to spend my money well. I always remember my Dad having hoses in his garden that leaked and always needed repair.
My main uses will be watering plants, connecting a sprinkler here and there and washing the car. What can you recommend as the best hose for my needs? Marco, Houston, TX
Answer: Great question on lawn and garden hoses! There are so many kinds, varieties and price ranges on the market, finding the best hose to meet your needs can be confusing.
First of all – do not fall into thinking that all garden hoses are equal – they are not! I cannot count how many times I’ve had to use a hose (say cheap garden hose) that would kink, break, or spring a leak.
The quality of a good garden hose whether it is a soaker hose or a regular water hose is much like many other products – it comes down to quality of material, heavy duty and manufacturing process. Read on to learn more about tips on buying a hose so you can easily pick the best out of the many garden hoses on sale in stores near you.
Let’s begin by looking at materials.
Hose Manufacturers: Apex, Gilmour, Dramm, Manga, Pirit Water, Ames, Plasticair, Flexon
In general, hoses for garden use are made from vinyl and rubber. Vinyl garden hoses come in a variety of quality options. When buying a vinyl hose look at the “ply” of the hose. The greater the number the thicker and more durable. A cheap four-ply garden hose may be inexpensive but finds its way to the hose repair station quickly. The more durable the hose the less frustration you will encounter when pulling it around, less kinks and leaks.
The best hoses in my experience for using outdoors and in the garden are made of rubber as they are usually kink resistant. A rubber garden hose is flexible, durable and can handle the wide ranges of temperatures and abuse they will face outside.
Hose Couplings and Fittings
A quality garden hose will have ends made of solid brass of possibly stainless steel. A metal garden hose does much more than flow water through it. It gets pulled, twisted, heated and cooled, in general it gets a lot of abuse. Brass fitting and aluminum couplings are much more durable than plastic. By the way, always make sure you have a hose washer between the hose and the connector to reduce any leaking.
However, plastic connectors can be molded in many ways to make it easier for those with less hand strength tighten and loosen to the outdoor spigot or faucet much easier. A quick connect option are available as well.
Unless you have a special need, spend the few extra dollars and go for a hose with nickel-plated brass or pure brass connectors – it will save a lot of future frustration.
As you walk through the garden center looking over the inventory of hoses they carry you’ll find them in 50, 75 and 100 foot lengths. Some people recommend that you buy the longest hose you can afford.
I disagree – buy the hose length you need. If you need to connect 2 hoses together the connection between the two is where you will find leaks and water-waste. For my needs a 75-foot rubber hose works very well. I am able to reach most areas that I need to water and the hose is very manageable. A 100 foot 3/4-inch hose full of water can get heavy to drag around!
There are also some expandable hoses you can buy online and in your local supply store. The price of an expandable garden hose may be higher but it must be worth it if you can’t determine the exact length of material you will need for your gardening chores. Moreover, always check for a lifetime warranty tag or a free garden hose reel as these are the best samples of deals or package inclusion you can get.
Most buyers and few manufacturers talk about the weight of a hose. When full of water a hose can get heavy and dirty as they drag in the mud. Plus hoses are one of those items which can be a pain to store and get out when needed.
Flat garden hoses are worth trying if you are looking for a light-weight hose that needs low use and easy to store.
One option you may also consider is adding a “Y” shaped adapter where you can connect 2 hoses up. Great for not dragging hoses around. You also have to consider the weight of the garden hose nozzle you’ll be adding if you decide to make use of one.
Some hoses come with a “self-straightening” collar which I’m not sure how well they work. Some hoses handle higher water pressure which if you are running off a drip irrigation pump may be important others are rated to handle hot-water which most homeowners will never use. Campers or marine users may want to look for a hose with an Anti-mildew feature. What good is an anti-mildew feature? This feature allows you fill a water tank or drink from the hose safely.
The Lift Test
When buying a garden hose do a “lift test.” By lifting equal lengths of garden hoses you can “compare” each hose and how well you can handle it. Handling a hose means pulling full of water, keeping the hose away from your body when watering muddy areas, etc.
A commercial hose in my opinion is a rubber hose made of heavy rubber, brass fittings and most likely 3/4 inch wide. This larger size allows water to flow easier and faster. One that will receive a lot of abuse – run over, stepped on and drug over rough objects.
The cost between a low quality hose and a high quality hose is minimal. The few extra dollars spent on a hose that will last for years, rarely spring a leak, made of rubber and can be easily handled will make watering plants and turning to the sprinkler so much more enjoyable.