“What is the best garden hose?” a guy asked me today at the hardware store.
What to say? There are many options and the best choice ultimately has to do with your garden type, irrigation job and scale.
So Many Hoses
Garden hoses come in different types, from flexible to strong to stretchy. They also come in different materials, such as rubber, metal, hybrid polymers.
Then there’s the matter of different sizes (3/4 and 5/8 inch are common) and lengths. I’ve seen 50-, 75- 100- and 90-foot hoses. (Really, what is up with the 90-foot hose? Just give us 100 feet and call it a full garden bed!)
To help make a decision, I ask myself the following: What am I using the hose for?
If your hose is a transport hose going from the water source to the garden, a stronger hose is great, especially if it crosses the driveway and might receive occasional traffic. (But please refrain from driving on your hose.)
These hoses are industrial or construction grade and often made of thick rubber and heavy-duty connections (crush-resistant) at each end to prevent being bent by accidental impact.
Some hoses are made from heavy-duty materials like stainless steel and rip stop. But beware of hoses that sound too cool—they probably are, and one reason is hose repair. When it comes to hoses, one of my first considerations is ease of repair if it leaks in the field.
So yes, I want a tough hose, but I also need one that can accept common hose-repair solutions.
A Hose for the Job
On the other hand, if the hose will be used to move from one garden bed to another or one landscape spot to another, it is great to have a lightweight hose that is easy to pull and carry. The smaller the hose diameter, often the lighter the hose (though you will probably sacrifice some strength).
Some of these hoses are kink-free. This can be handy when you unwind them and pull them around corners. If you have a lot of corners, this is an advisable style.
At the same time, if you are running hose a long distance, then a larger diameter hose will produce less friction. This will allow you to have increased pressure at the outlet when you attach it to a sprinkler, soaker hose, drip tape or hand water gun.
If you have a longer run of drip tape, for instance, or a few beds in a plot, you might want to consider larger diameter hoses to improve your PSI (pressure).
In addition, for winter work there are all-season hoses that are less susceptible to freezing up. These are great for getting water to animals and making ice skating rings.
Expandable hoses will stretch when they fill with water, then spring back into a smaller coil to reduce the space needed for storage. This is handy if you have storage space concerns.
More Is Better
No matter the job, you can find a great hose to do it! Sometimes, in fact, the best hoses aren’t even the ones you buy. Rather, they’re the ones you find and repair.
I used thousands of feet of old fire hose on the farm for years as an extraordinary transport hose in a larger market garden. If you scale up your garden, a larger-diameter hose (1-4” inches) is best, as you’ll maximize the pressure for your garden plots.
For larger scale production, always buy hoses in longer lengths. A standard, 50-foot hose garden hose often costs 25 to 50 percent more than a 100-foot hose. And bulk water line (hose) in 300-foot rolls from irrigation companies is far more affordable. These often don’t come with male and female threaded ends and you can choose your fitting to finish them off.
No matter the hose, you can adapt them to fit into your garden. Irrigation supplies—from quick connects and elbows to Y connectors, manifolds and shut-off valves—allow you to fit your water needs to the lay of the land and the ease of your hand.
Yes, there is a hose for every job, but perhaps there is also a person for every hose. If you find a hose you love, take good care of it and repair it when need be. Quality hose lasts a lifetime with a bit of elbow grease … err, water.
For me a good grip is always import, and I prefer standard heavy-duty rubber hoses and some lightweight kink-free hoses for my gardens.