Gardens need sun, nutrients and water to thrive, and the most common way to get the water where it’s needed is through a garden hose.
This essential garden tool takes a lot of abuse, being dragged around the landscape, exposed to extremes of heat and cold, left in driveways and run over by vehicles.
With concerns over drought and conserving water resources, this is the ideal time to assess your garden hose and determine if you need to make repairs or buy a new hose, and to look at options for efficient watering.
Things to consider: Length and weight
If it’s time to purchase a garden hose, begin by deciding on the length you will need. Standard garden hoses begin at 10 feet, then go up to 25, 50, 75 and 100 feet.
When considering the type of hose, think about the weight of the hose that will need to be pulled around your landscape, while keeping in mind any plantings that are far away from the spigot.
Hose materials and fittings
Hoses are made from vinyl or rubber or a combination of the two, with brass fittings.
Vinyl makes for a lightweight hose, with a lower price, while rubber hoses are heavier and more expensive.
Cast brass fittings will last longer than plastic, but come with a correspondingly higher price. Look for the 5/8-inch width for everyday garden and lawn use.
Hoses can be linked with connectors, and a Y-shaped connector with a shut-off valve will allow you to attach two hoses to a single outdoor spigot, enabling you to use a shorter hose on nearby garden beds and a longer hose to reach perimeter plantings.
Keeping the garden hose neat and tidy is an important consideration. Storage options include decorative containers, portable hose reel carts, and hose reels that attach to the side of your house or garden shed. Some offer shelves to keep nozzles and gardening gloves handy.
Ornamental hose pot styles make easy work of storing garden hoses: Simply coil the hose and drop it into the pot.
The newest hose products are expandable hoses, designed to be lightweight and easy to store. Follow the instructions on the package for the best experience with these hoses.
An expandable hose probably won’t take the place of your heavy-duty hose, but it works well on porches and decks and for gardeners who need a lightweight hose.
A coiled garden hose may be just the ticket if you garden in a small space or on a balcony. Expanding to 50 feet in length, it fits in its own hanging rack.
Soaker hoses are specialty hoses designed to deliver water to the root zone where plants need it most. Water passes through the tiny pores at a steady rate, thoroughly soaking the ground below.
Paired with a hose timer and topped with a blanket of organic mulch, the soaker hose will water a vegetable garden, flower beds, shrubs and trees all season long with far less water lost to evaporation than with a sprinkler.
Tips for getting the most out of your garden hose
- Before using a new hose for the first time, make sure the washer is in place in the couplings. Hook up the hose and unspool the length, letting it relax in the sunshine before turning on the water.
- Storing a hose in winter: Extend to full length, disconnect from the spigot, and let the hose drain completely. Coil up the hose and place in garage or storage shed for the season.
- A tip for draining the hose: If you have a porch or deck, place the hose on the ground and extend it over the rail and pull it up, coiling as you go, letting gravity do the work for you.
- When shopping for spray nozzles, look for one that feels comfortable in your hand and delivers sprays from gentle to jet-like.
- Who hasn’t tipped over a container or knocked a plant down by pulling on the garden hose? Hose guides protect your flowers and vegetables from damage. Make your own with this tutorial: Create a Copper Hose Guide to Protect Your Flowers.