What you need to know before buying a garden hose


Your home’s lawn and garden have special watering needs unique to your yard. If your older hose has become a leaking, twisted adversary, it’s time to replace it. If you’ve just moved into your home, it’s time to consider buying a garden hose.


Before you go shopping for a hose, make a short list of why you need one. Keep in mind that your previous purchases and how you’ll use your hose will influence your buying decision about the type of and number of hoses you’ll buy

To know the size and type of hose you’ll need, ask these questions

  • What’s the size of my yard and how long should the hoses be?
  • Where are the outdoor water faucets?
  • How much am I willing to pay?
  • What type of material is best suited to my climate and yard condition?

Some of these questions are easily answered by using a tape measure to measure the dimensions of your yard. To these numbers add about 10%. The extra length will make it easier go around tight corners or maneuver around obstacles. Draw a diagram of these measurements and take it with you. Don’t trust your memory.

Your climate is another factor
If you live where I do, in reclaimed desert that is Southern California, hoses must be made of  materials that resist the sun’s UV deterioration, especially if you leave the hose in the yard—not that I’ve ever done that.

A hose acts like a solar panel, heating the water inside to very hot levels, which can produce a nasty surprise when you pick up the hose nozzle and let loose a spray of hot water.

In cooler climes this won’t be as great a problem. But you’ll need to drain the water out of your hose in case night temperatures drop. I used to live in the East and experienced first hand a frozen stick of hose burst open by expanding ice.

Your investment in a quality garden hose will depend upon how you answered these questions regarding use and need. Now it’s time to consider other options.

Buying a garden hose on price alone is a big no-no
With hoses, low price rarely yields good quality. When investing in your hose it makes sense to buy quality now that will last for years, instead of buying cheap hoses and replacing them every year. With lawn and garden hoses you get what you pay for and suffer when you go cheap.

Prices will vary, depending upon your needs. But expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $50+ for quality hoses.  Costs will be determined by length, types of material, number of plys and diameter.

Materials are key factors
Hoses are made according to a manufacturer’s specifications about material, length, diameter, thickness, plys and durability. Materials include vinyl, polyurethane, recycled rubber or some combination.

Vinyl is the cheapest but has the shortest life span, and is prone to leaking from pinholes or splits. Longer vinyl hose lengths may fair to maintain water pressure and tangle into snarling knots.

Rubber hoses are a little more expensive but much more flexible and far outlasts vinyl.

Reinforced hoses made with wrapped nylon or rubber layers (called plys) best resist abrasion, punctures and wear, especially in an unfinished or roughly landscaped yard. They’ll also hold up better with weather and temperature changes. Reinforced hoses are available in 4 ply medium duty, 5 ply heavy duty hose, and never kink, expandable, flat soaker, drip irrigation, specialty and self straightening types.

Get a hose longer than you need
Because your watering needs differ for various parts of your yard, consider buying several hoses of varying lengths. Lengths are sold in 25-foot increments up to 250 feet.

Make sure that the length you buy exceeds the span of your yard, because if the hose just exactly reaches the edge of your lawn or shrubbery, you may not be able to water the grass properly. Not to mention that buying too short will get you tugging on the hose attempting to stretch it, which stresses a hose, causing it to snag, get punctured, break, or develop leaks, specially at the nozzle.

With diameter, size matters and bigger is better. The larger the hose’s diameter, the able the hose is able to handle your home’s water pressure. Diameters run 1/2-inch to 3/4 inch, with 5/8 inches being the happy medium.