With so many options to choose from and little visible difference between garden hoses, it’s tempting to simply choose the cheapest one. But small differences can have a big impact on how long the hose lasts and how easy it is to use.
A good garden hose should last 5 to 10 years. But many homeowners who buy lower quality hoses end up replacing theirs each year due to leaks, cracks or rot. Although some problems can be repaired, it’s generally more cost-effective to buy a good quality hose to begin with.
Important Considerations When Buying a Garden Hose:
1.Length – Longer is Not Better
Garden hoses come in 25-, 50-, 75- and 100-foot lengths. It’s tempting to buy one longer hose and use it for all of your watering needs around the garden. But don’t do it. Not only do longer hoses cost more, but they’re heavier to move around, need more storage space, can be difficult to drain before putting them away for the winter, and can result in lower water pressure coming out the end.
Measure the farthest distance from your spigot and buy a hose that goes just beyond that. You don’t want to tug on the hose to stretch it out as that’s likely to cause snags or leaks.
On a deck or balcony, a 25-foot garden hose is usually fine. Most urban yards need only a 50-foot hose, at most. If you need a longer length of hose than 50 feet, consider buying two hoses and joining them together when you need to go beyond 50 feet. That way you’re not lugging around a long, heavy garden hose all the time.
2.Hose Diameter – Width = Water Flow
The most common garden hose diameters are ¾ inch, five-eighths inch and half inch. These measurements are based on the inside diameter of the hose, not the outside. The bigger the diameter, the more water the hose will carry.
A hose width of five-eighths inch is generally most useful. It’s a good combination of water flow and pressure without being too heavy.
If hose weight is an issue for you, a half-inch hose may be best. They tend to be lighter weight but because of the smaller diameter they don’t carry as much water. Half-inch garden hoses are best kept to 50 feet or less and used for light-duty gardening tasks, such as watering containers and hanging baskets. These hoses are not appropriate for use with sprinklers or anything that requires higher water pressure (like washing your car).
3.Strength – Look at Burst Pressure
Garden hose strength can be measured in terms of “burst pressure” (the water pressure at which it is likely to rupture). If you’ll be using a hose nozzle or a sprinkler, look for a hose with a burst pressure above 350 psi. For pressure washer use, check your manual before buying a hose – you may need an even higher psi.
4.Couplings – Look For Cast Brass
Garden hose couplings are the end pieces that attach to spigots, sprinklers and nozzles.
Less expensive hoses often have plastic couplings. Avoid these – they’re more prone to leaks, cracks and breakage and often can’t be tightened properly. Plastic also breaks down quickly, particularly when left in the sun.
Metal couplings (usually brass, although many are chrome plated) are either stamped or cast. You can identify cast brass because it’s thicker than sheet metal and usually has an octagonal shape so that the coupling can be turned with a wrench. Couplings made from cast brass are the most durable and leak-resistant. Thin stamped-metal fittings can be difficult to tighten at the spigot, bend easily (so don’t step on it or run over it with the lawnmower or car), and break down over time.
All else being equal, a large octagon-shaped coupling is easiest to tighten, particularly for those of us with stiff fingers or lower grip strength.