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How to Choose a Garden Hose

Updated on May 31, 2013

A Good Garden Hose

There are many tools in your garden shed that can trigger a love or hate relationship for a gardener, and a garden hose is one of them. The problem is, many people buy the wrong type of hose to really suit their needs and they end up regretting it later.

Before you buy another garden hose, consider the thoughts on this page. As the owner of many different types of garden hoses over the years, and having used them for a number of reasons, I have some things for you to think about that I believe will allow you to make the right choice this time.

For a standard lawn sprinkler, a traditional hose can't be beat.
For a standard lawn sprinkler, a traditional hose can't be beat. | Source

How to Make a Hose Last

You should invest in a quality hose for best results over the long run. To get more life out of it, follow these tips.

  • store it out of the sun when not in use
  • use a good hose cart or box to store it neatly
  • completely drain water in winter and store in the shed or garage
  • don't drive over it or walk on it
  • use hose guide spikes to turn around corners instead of rubbing the hose against rocks or trees
  • don't leave the water on with a nozzle when not in use to reduce pressure

The Best Garden Hose Depends on the Activity

Don't think that one style of hose is really better than another. In quality it may be, but in function, you need to match your gardening practices with your hose. Here are some examples of activities and which style may best suit it.

Watering the Grass

When long periods of sprinkler use are required extending far from the water source, you just can't beat a traditional 100 foot hose to do the job. Take my advice and do not skimp on this purchase. There is a huge difference in the extra $10 or more you might spend to get a high quality product of this length. With that quality, kinks and early wear in the sun will be of no concern, and especially if you plan to roll the hose up at the end of the day, it will pay for itself in saving you mental anguish many times over.

Washing the Car

If you just like to wash your own car now and again and have a spigot nearby, a lighter weight hose that is 50 feet long may be perfect. A person for whom car washing is the primary use would tend to keep the hose stored neatly away most of the time, limiting exposure to sun and the wear and tear that go with it. Also, the extra weight of a longer hose is not really needed.

Filling a Watering Can

For gardeners who avoid long sprinkling or overuse of water but need to water potted plants or the raised bed garden once in a while, a hose may just be a way to water something close or to fill watering cans. In this case, consider a lightweight coiled hose that retracts without the more cumbersome need to wind it back up. That makes for a faster chore from start to finish - perfect for when you have to water every day and don't want to spend minutes putting the hose away each time.

Slow Watering of Plants

For new shrubs or trees or even in the vegetable garden, a long and slow watering can be very beneficial. Fast watering in these cases can lead to runoff and water waste. To avoid that, a soaker hose is a really neat installation. You can leave it in place all summer if you like - as in the case of a garden - and just turn it on or put it on a timer whenever you like. Water will be deposited right to the plant roots where it is needed most. Tomatoes will also appreciate the fact that no water is sprayed on their leaves.

Which Garden Hose is Best?

Hose Style
Best For
Traditional Garden Hose
Lawn Sprinklers, Heavy Duty Use
Self-Coiling Hose
Filling Watering Cans, Light Jobs Close to Water Source
Soaker Hose
Watering Planting Beds, Gardens, or New Trees

What is your favorite kind of hose?

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How to Store a Hose

To store a hose neatly, invest in a quality storage method. For a traditional garden hose, the best option is a spinning hose cart. Pick one with wheels so you can move it around without carrying the entire weight of the hose itself. With a cart like this, you can attach the short hose that supplies the cart with water and then attach your hose to the cart. This lends itself to keeping the cart near the water spigot. The best thing about a good wind-up hose cart is that it is super easy to unwind when you need to reach far-off places and nearly as easy to wrap the whole thing up again.

For a coiling hose, there are baskets that attach to the house that they can simply be placed in, or many people like to buy a hose holder that sits on the ground near the spigot. These look like decorative containers and usually have a matching top to conceal the hose when not in use. Not only are they pretty, they keep the hose out of the sun and reduce the cluttered look that can come from a hose that was not put away properly.

Soaker hoses are a bit of an exception, since they are really meant to be left in place for long periods of time. When you won't be using them for a while, a hose cart like the one you would use for a standard garden hose is the best way to go.

Time to Soak Up Your Options

Now that you have considered how you plan to use your hose it will be easy to make the correct choice. Buy a quality item, take good care of it, and it will last for many years.


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