Garden hoses are important part of your outdoor maintenance, but before you buy a new hose, there are some important things you need to know. The type of hose you select will depend on the type of work you plan to do this summer and to achieve the best experience.
Traditional Garden Hoses
They are all-purpose hoses used for everything from watering the lawn to hosing down a patio or washing the car. Hoses are available in a range of prices and in lengths of 5 to 100 feet.
Vinyl garden hoses are less expensive than rubber, but they kink easily and wear out faster. Rubber hoses tend to hold up well and last much longer. However, they are heavier, making them more difficult to move and store.
Light Duty Hoses
These hoses are usually made of vinyl (sometimes with a reinforcing mesh or multiple plies (layers)) therefore they will kink more simply, usually have plastic fittings, and have a tendency to come in thinner diameters but prices are in the lower range.
If you’re gardening on a budget, won’t be using it often, don’t need a long hose (over 50 feet), and have lower water pressure or don’t use a sprinkler or hose nozzle, then a lightweight hose will probably meet your needs.
While you can find light duty hoses online, your best bet is to visit your local home improvement store or garden center. You’ll find some of the heavier duty hoses there as well, but many of them are perfect for light duty use.
A heavy-duty hose can have many applications including use on farms, worksites, and high traffic areas. Made of materials that make these hoses difficult to kink and can withstand loads of weight. Usually, those hoses are more expensive.
You’ve probably seen ads on TV for these scrunchie-like hoses that expand up to three times their length when filled with water. They’re very lightweight (usually around 1 lb) and usually come in bright colors. Most are ½ inch in diameter and have adequate water flow comparable to a non-expandable garden hose of that diameter, but not what you’d get from a regular hose.
Although they do expand as advertised, over time expandable hoses tend to stop contracting properly, leaving you with a hose that’s difficult to coil or store. Be aware that when you open the nozzle after the hose is expanded it will shrink (sometimes dramatically) as the water pressure in the hose decreases. Expandable hoses are handy for small jobs, don’t expect a long lifespan. They tend to rupture in high water pressure and they wear out quickly in sunlight.
These are ideal for using in planters, or vegetable gardens where things are planted in rows.
They’re also a good choice for plants that prefer deep watering to sprinkling. Roses are a good example of this, as spraying and getting the leaves wet leaves them susceptible to various diseases. They prefer a deep watering instead.
If you only have one or two rose bushes, a spray hose set on a low flow at the root of the plants is fine, but if you have a whole row, a dedicated soaker is practically a must.
A coiled hose is formed into a tight spiral that pulls together when not in use and can be pulled out for use (some to an almost straight length of hose). They generally come in shorter lengths (15-foot and 25-foot lengths are most common, although some companies make longer ones) and a ½-inch or smaller diameter (resulting in lower water flow and pressure compared to a typical garden hose).
Coiled hoses can be an ideal solution in small areas where you prefer to hand-water. The hose shrinks back to a tight spiral when not in use, so it’s easy to tuck away on a patio or balcony. On the other hand, coiled hoses tend to be difficult to store.
Take the length of your garden into consideration; because of the coils, the actual length may be a little less than that stated on the label.