When my husband and I bought our first house, there were many garden and lawn related purchases to make, like buying our first rake and lawn mower, first snow shovel and weed whacker. While some of things we bought held up as expected over the years, one of the purchases I regret the most was my garden hose. Instead of buying the best garden hose, we quite possibly bought the worst.
That hose kinked with the slightest pull. I had to replace the rusted fittings, not once but twice. I’m sure it leaked. And it was way too long and heavy. It’s one of the few things we bought that I regret not doing more research on before we made the purchase. I was stuck with that thing until we, thankfully, sold our first home and moved on to the next. I’m sure the current owners are cursing that hose too if they haven’t ditched the thing entirely.
Before you start thinking about buying a new hose or replacing an old one, consider first how often and in what ways you will actually be using your garden hose. Even if you plan on using your garden hose very seldom, if you have to go long distances, over rocky terrain, you may need to consider a heavier duty hose. Do you love to garden? Want to water your plants daily, year round? An obvious choice would be a heavy duty, longer hose, but if you only need to go 10-feet in any direction, a lighter-duty hose might be the better choice. Do you have kids, like to drink out of the hose during hot summers? Then lead or bpa-free hoses should be an important consideration for you. Once you’ve thought about how you plan on using your garden hose, you should have no trouble buying the best garden hose based on your needs and budget.
Length — Longer is not better when it comes to gardening hoses. Don’t buy 100 feet if all you need is 50. Otherwise, you’ll be lugging around and re-coiling a lot of hose that you don’t need. If you have a small balcony or small city yard, consider buying a small coiled hose.
Kink Resistance — Heavier-duty hoses are by their nature going to be more kink-resistant. They are made of thicker material that is less prone to bending. The one drawback (besides the price) is that these hoses tend to be quite heavy (as their names imply). Some companies promise kink-resistance in a light-weight hose, but these generally get mixed reviews. It’s important to read product reviews, or try a kink test in the store to see for yourself. If you have a smaller budget, and only use the hose infrequently, you may be willing to put up with a few kinks for easier lifting and storing.
Materials — There are actually quite a few options on the market in terms of materials for your garden hoses. From light-duty to heavy duty, there are options in rubber, vinyl (PVC), polyurethane, and nylon (and probably a few more I missed). Some claim to be eco-friendly, anti-microbial, bpa-free, or drinking-water safe. But most hoses you will come across in home improvement and garden centers are made of vinyl, rubber, or a vinyl-rubber mix. Medium-duty hoses tend to be made of one or two layers of vinyl. Heavy-duty tend to be made of a vinyl-rubber combination. Less expensive hoses will often not be lead-free, nor are they considered drinking-water safe. Be sure to look for hoses that specifically mention that they are lead free or safe to drink from if that feature is important to you.
You should also consider whether the fittings (the parts of the hose that connect to your spigot and attach to the sprinklers or sprayers) are made of brass or plastic. Plastic is less expensive, and attaches easily to many nozzles, sprinklers, and wands. Plastic also won’t rust or corrode. However, plastic fittings can break down over time under direct UV light, or crack if run over by cars or heavy machinery. Brass fittings won’t crack or break easily, and they won’t break down in sunlight. However, they can corrode and many brass fittings contain lead. You should assume brass fittings do have some lead, unless the manufacturer specifically says the brass couplings are lead-free.
Weather Resistance – An often overlooked feature of garden hoses, is how well they withstand weather extremes. Heavy-duty or contractor-grade hoses can withstand temperature extremes, but are heavy and pricier. Rubber hoses, while harder to kink and naturally lead free, may be a poor choice for areas that see many sunny, hot days (think Florida or Texas), especially if you tend to leave them uncoiled in the sun. However, even vinyl hoses will wear down over time from sun damage. You may have to accept that some hoses will only last a few years with heavy use in extreme heat and sun. Properly coiling and storing your hose will give it added life. Alternatively, look for a hose with a lifetime warranty that promises weather resistance.
I think it’s safe to say there is no best gardening hose for everyone, but by weighing your own needs with what’s available on the market, you can buy the best garden hose for you. Hopefully, your own hose won’t turn into a pile of tears and regret like mine did.