During the warmer summer months, maintaining your outdoor space might be a priority. And whether you’ve taken up outdoor gardening or simply hope to wash your car and other outdoor spots with ease, a quality garden hose can be a handy and durable household tool during this time.
“Selecting a new garden hose should be thought of as an investment,” said Kristiana Laugen, a home care expert at Handy. “If you factor in length, material and water pressure, the right hose can last for up to a decade.”
But with so many options on the market — and the different features and accessories that can be paired with them — finding the hose that fits your specific outdoor needs can be tough. As Laugen mentioned, they can also be an investment for some: A good quality hose, nozzle and reel combined can cost upwards of $100. To simplify your search, we consulted gardening experts to determine how to shop for a garden hose and rounded up some highly rated and expert-recommended options.
SKIP AHEAD Best garden hoses
Garden hoses: A shopping guide
There isn’t just one type of hose that’ll be a perfect fit for all functions and spaces. Choosing the best garden hose depends on several different factors, including how much use you get out of it, the climate you’re in and your budget. According to Kristen Reser, watering and tools merchant at The Home Depot, the “flexibility and durability of the hose depend on the material it’s made of, while the length, diameter and fittings determine its water flow capacity.”
What is the garden hose made out of?
Hoses are usually made from one of three materials: vinyl, which is a more affordable and lightweight choice, polyurethane, which is lightweight, kink-resistant and is typically found in coiled hoses, and rubber, which is the tougher, more flexible and heavier option. Certain hoses are also made from a combination of vinyl and rubber, according to Reser. “The combo hoses are sometimes reinforced with nylon and rayon which offers varying levels of durability and flexibility,” she said, adding that some hoses also have metal coils or cords between the layers of rubber or vinyl to help keep them from kinking.
How long is the garden hose?
According to the experts we spoke to, length and kink resistance — which depends on the material — are among the most important considerations. (Polyurethane and rubber are fairly kink-resistent, while vinyl is more prone to kinking.) “Determine your hose’s length based on how far the area you plan to water is from the hose spigot on the side of your house,” said Megan Ullmann, a seasonal and outdoor living merchant at Lowe’s. She said that the most popular length is typically 50 feet, but 100 feet can be a better option if you have a larger yard or rely on just one water spigot — the device used to turn water on and off.
How strong is the garden hose?
Hoses can be categorized as light-, medium- or heavy-duty — each has its own specific uses and outdoor needs.
- Light-duty hoses can be good for small gardens and plant care since they’re typically lightweight and easier to wind up and store. However, they’re often more susceptible to damage from the elements. They are also “less durable than heavier duty options,” said Reser.
- Medium-duty hoses (also called standard hoses) can be a decent option for residential lawn and landscape maintenance, such as general gardening work.
- Heavy-duty hoses have thicker walls and are usually more durable and sturdy. “One advantage of these hoses is that you can leave them outside and exposed to the elements without risking damage,” said Reser, adding that the heavier duty the hose is, “the more water pressure it can handle.” These hoses can be used for some pressure washer tasks, like washing outdoor walls and sidewalks.
What type of garden hose is it?
In addition to specific features and attachments, there are various types of hoses that can be used for different outdoor tasks and needs. These include standard hoses, which are all-purpose hoses made from various materials, coiled hoses, which form a spring shape when not in use and are light-duty enough to water small areas, and soaker hoses that have tiny holes and are gentle enough to keep your garden healthy, especially when set with a timer. Experts recommend considering what type of hose can be used for the jobs you’re typically getting done.
It’s also important to pay attention to the couplings. Couplings (also called fittings) are the end pieces that connect the ends of the hose with water supplies like spigots, sprinklers and nozzles. They can be made of metal — typically brass, but also sometimes zinc and aluminum — and the metal ones are usually more durable than plastic couplings. However, metal hose couplings can be harder to tighten on the spigot, while plastic fittings can attach easier due to their nylon or thermoplastic materials, according to Reser.
Ultimately, Laugen suggested going for a metal coupling over plastic since the latter tends to break easily. “As a general rule of thumb, the larger the coupling, the easier it is to tighten,” she added.
What to consider when buying a hose nozzle
A nozzle, which attaches to one end of your hose, can be a convenient way to control the flow and distribution of the stream and save water while you use it. They’re usually adjustable or multi-pattern. “Adjustable nozzles are great for cleaning and allow the user to adjust the strength of the water flow using the trigger, from a light spray to solid stream,” said Ullmann. Multi-pattern nozzles “click through a variety of spray patterns” including mist, jet and shower settings.
Adjustable and multi-pattern nozzles can come in multiple styles and with specialized attachments, according to Reser.
- Pistol grip nozzles have a “pull-style handle that allows you to change the pressure and style of spray as you squeeze.” This is often called a spray gun nozzle, she said.
- Watering wand nozzles can “extend your reach by up to 30 inches” and can be good for “watering areas that are tough to reach.”
- Fan nozzles can spray a wide, gentle spray of water using a widened mouth and can be a better option for gently watering delicate foliage, like a flower garden or vegetables and herbs.
- Fireman nozzles are “versatile and can put out a large amount of water in a very short time,” said Reser. This type of nozzle can be ideal for big watering jobs.
The material of the nozzle can also be an important consideration when it comes to durability. “Standard nozzles are usually metal or plastic, [though] some are both,” said Laugen. “Metal is the most durable option, but if you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, you can opt for a nozzle made of metal and plastic.” Ullmann added that an all-metal construction will “last longer and hold up to more use,” while nozzles that contain more plastic will be “lighter and less expensive.”
What to look for in a hose reel
When it comes to storage, a hose reel can prevent a tangled heap on the floor and extend the life of your hose. It can also help you save time — without a reel, it can be difficult to untwist a hose and have it lay flat when you’re ready to use it.
According to Laugen, “it’s best to choose one that’s enclosed for long-term durability.” While more “stylish options” like a stand or decorative pot can seem appealing, she recommended finding a reel with “an easy-to-use crank that matches your outdoor aesthetic.” For the winter, consider storing your hose in a garden shed or garage while covering the exterior of your faucet with an installation cover to keep the water from freezing.
Best garden hoses in 2021
Best garden hose overall: Flexzilla
This Amazon bestseller has an average 4.6-star rating from more than 33,000 reviews on the site. Like its name suggests, this hose is made with a flexible hybrid polymer material that makes it durable in most weather conditions, according to the brand. It’s also lightweight — weighing 8 pounds — and comes in a bright green color so it’s easy to spot while you’re working outdoors. The Flexzilla hose is offered in multiple lengths, ranging from 5 and 10 feet to 50 and 75 feet.
Best soaker hose: Gilmour
With small pores all over the hose that can slowly release water, a soaker hose can be a good investment for watering garden beds, flowers or other landscaping projects while using less water than traditional sprinklers. This option by Gilmour is made from 100 percent recycled vinyl, which is flexible and lightweight enough to be woven through your plants and gardens for watering and can be folded flat for easy storage. According to the brand, it’s covered in a clog-resistant fabric that can protect the hose against UV rays and make it last longer. Lengths range from 25 feet to 75 feet and it currently has a 4.2-star average rating from more than 4,500 Amazon shoppers.
Best heavy-duty hose: Dramm
This heavy-duty rubber hose has a 4.6-star average rating from over 1,000 Amazon buyers and can be a good option for large outdoor projects, like watering a larger chunk of your lawn or even cleaning off your car. According to the brand, the hose is kink-resistent, can coil even in cold weather, can withstand hot water up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and comes with durable nickel-plated brass couplings. You can get this hose in a 25-foot or 50-foot length and it comes in a variety of bright colors, including Green, Red, Orange and Yellow.
Best lightweight hose: TheFitLife
If you’re looking for a more lightweight option, this TheFitLife option starts out at 17 feet long and expands to 50 feet with water — it can then return to its original length when water is no longer running through the hose. Made with an inner latex core and a polyester outer fabric, it features solid brass fittings and a shutoff valve on the side that lets you control the flow of the water, and includes an eight-pattern spray nozzle to save water.
Best freshwater hose: Camco
“Most standard hoses aren’t safe for drinking water — they have plasticizers that can leach into the water,” said Reser, adding that “any hose marked as ‘drinking water safe’ is lead-free, BPA-free, and phthalate-free.” This option by Camco is “compliant with all federal and state level low lead laws,” according to the brand, and the ends are compatible with most standard garden hose connections. This type of hose can be good for both everyday watering needs and long-term trips, like camping, boating or traveling in an RV. It’s available in multiple lengths, including 10 feet, 25 feet and 50 feet, and has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 18,000 Amazon reviewers.
Best all-in-one hose: Giraffe
If you’re looking for an all-in-one hose, nozzle and reel option, this one by Giraffe Tools can save you a lot of time and money. With 90-foot-long and 130-foot-long options, the hose comes in longer lengths than the other options on this list and features a nine-pattern spray nozzle, an impact-resistant reel with durable polypropylene casing, a wall-mounting bracket and a carrying handle. You can dictate how long you want the hose to be by automatically locking it at any length, and it has a slow retraction system to avoid any hazards.
Best hose nozzles in 2021
Best comfort-grip nozzle: Melnor
This metal hose nozzle from Melnor is a relatively affordable option and features five water spray patterns — shower, stream, mist, flat and full — that can accommodate most basic gardening activities, along with a rubber handle for a comfortable grip. It’s made from a combination of metal, plastic and rubber, so it’s lightweight, though not as durable as a nozzle made fully from metal.
Best watering wand: GREEN MOUNT
With a 4.5-star average rating from more than 3,700 Amazon shoppers, this 16-inch watering wand from GREEN MOUNT can easily water spots in your garden or lawn that may be out of normal reach. It’s made from lightweight non-corrosive aluminum and has a slip-resistant handle, and includes eight adjustable watering patterns: jet, angled, full, soaker, mist, flat, cone and shower. For longer outdoor jobs, there’s also a clip-lock on the handle for continuous spraying without tiring out your hand.
Best pistol grip nozzle: Gilmour
With a full metal construction, this Gilmour nozzle is durable and easy to use — you can simply push down on the trigger and adjust water flow as needed. It features a hold-open clip to keep water streaming continuously, while a small dial at the top allows you to control the force and flow of the water that comes out.
Best multi-pattern nozzle: Dramm
For a more comfortable and unique option, this spray nozzle from Dramm has a one-touch valve that can be quickly adjusted to control water flow without squeezing a trigger. It features nine spray patterns, from cone and shower to mist and fan, that can be selected using a quick-change dial. It’s also offered in various colors, including Yellow, Red, and Berry, and comes with the manufacturer’s limited lifetime guarantee.
Best hose reels in 2021
Best affordable hose reel: Yard Butler
For a simple and affordable storage option, this hose hanger is crafted from durable steel, can be mounted on a wall and features a curved design that can prevent your hose from sagging or getting tangled. According to the brand, it’s sturdy enough to hold 100 feet of a standard, 5/8-inch diameter garden hose. It also comes in four colors: Green, Blue, Purple and Verdigris.
Best wall-mounted hose reel: Liberty Garden
This decorative, wall-mounted hose reel from Liberty Garden is worth a try if you don’t want to sacrifice style for utility. It’s constructed from non-rust cast aluminum with a nickel powder-coated finish that can help prevent damage from water. It can hold up to 125 feet of a standard hose, according to the brand, and features a shelf at the top to hold any outdoor gardening tools. It also includes a hose guide that lets you roll and unroll your hose without it getting bunched or tangled.
Best hideaway reel: Suncast
According to Laugen, “hideaway reels are best for outdoor storage” since they keep the hose away from the elements, which can extend its life. This popular Suncast storage option is made from sturdy resin, meaning it likely won’t rust when stored outdoors, and can hold a standard hose up to 150 feet long. Suncast also offers a larger version of the hideaway reel, which can accommodate a standard hose up to 225 feet long and features a guide loop in front so your hose doesn’t get tangled.
Best portable hose reel: Suncast
If you’re planning on moving your hose from one yard to another, this reel cart from Suncast is a portable option that the brand says can hold up to 175 feet of a standard hose. It’s made from durable resin and comes with a crank handle to make winding and unwinding your hose simple.
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