6 Questions To Ask When Buying A Garden Hose

Garden hoses are a common sight on any hobby farm. But before buying a garden hose, here are six questions you should ask and answer.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Daniel Johnson

Garden hoses are a common sight on any hobby farm. They’re perfect for watering gardens, and some hoses can be put to use dispensing water for livestock.

But shopping for a garden hose isn’t as simple as it seems. There are many options and features to consider. Before buying a garden hose, here are six questions you should ask and answer.

Read more: What’s the right garden hose? Whatever gets the job done!

How long is the garden hose?

Just how long a hose do you need? That depends on the distance you’re trying to span. Longer hoses naturally weigh more than shorter ones and are harder to move around and reel up. But extra length can come in handy.

For example, I water young fruit trees in my orchard using a 35-gallon leg tank in the back of a wagon. With a 50-foot hose on the end, I can reach more trees from a single parked location than when using a 25-foot hose.

Before settling on a length, consider where and how you intend to use the hose. Measure the distance you need to cover and buy accordingly. Remember, having a little extra length for wiggle room never hurts.

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What is the diameter of the hose?

In this case, we’re less concerned with the overall diameter of the hose and more concerned with its internal diameter. Is water traveling through a 1/2-inch, 5/8-inch or 3/4-inch opening? The wider the diameter, the more water can flow through the hose at once.

But increasing the diameter makes the hose bulkier and heavier. So there’s a tradeoff in the ease-of-use department.

What material is the garden hose made of?

Vinyl, rubber, metal … hoses can be made from a wide variety of materials, with vinyl and rubber two of the most common. Vinyl hoses have plenty of positives in their corner, including low cost and easy maneuverability due to their lightweight nature.

Rubber hoses can be pricier and heavier. But they also last longer and tolerate temperature swings better than vinyl.

Are the couplings/fittings made of metal or plastic?

You should also consider the material used for the couplings/fittings at either end of the hose. Metal fittings (brass or aluminum, for example) are tougher and less likely to suffer damage than plastic fittings.

On the other hand, plastic fittings are widely considered easier to tighten, so that’s a factor to consider if you’re going to be frequently attaching and removing the hose from spigots.

Is the garden hose safe for drinking water?

Not all hoses are meant for dispensing drinking water. If you or your livestock intend to quench your thirst from the hose, make sure to purchase a hose rated as safe for drinking.

Read more: You can use (a lot of) hoses to make pasture work easier. Here’s how.

Does it offer special features?

Some hoses up the ante with extra features to enhance their capabilities and ease of use. There isn’t much more annoying than a hose that kinks. So a kink-resistant hose is a good choice if you’ll be constantly dragging it this way and that around your garden.

Along similar lines, a memoryless hose is easier to maneuver (and wind up on a reel) than one that remembers (and refuses to abandon) its favorite twists and turns.

Others hoses are expandable and deflate to a compact size when not filled with water. Then there are soaker hoses, riddled with tiny holes to automatically dispense water throughout a lawn or garden bed.

Compare options and analyze which features might come in handy for your needs.

Consider all of these questions before buying a hose, and you’re bound to wind up with the perfect choice.

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