Best of the Test
There Are a Lot of Bad Garden Hoses, but These 5 Are Great
My lawn has never looked greener.
Welcome to Best of the Test, a thoroughly tested, expertly vetted, only semi-serious product recommendation series. Join us as we sleep with a dozen different bed sheets, make gallons of ice, air fry all the wings, and more in pursuit of the very best things to buy.
For all the advantages that living in a big city like New York offers, unless you’re by a park, greenery isn’t one of them. I lived in Manhattan for a large part of my life, so the idea of gardening is a completely new territory for me. But once my husband and I moved into the ‘burbs with more space and greenery to call our own, gardening suddenly became part of our weekend errands list. While we have sprinklers to handle most of the lawn, my husband and I would spend our weekend mornings watering areas that were out of reach with a garden hose. It also came in handy when washing our car and rinsing out smelly garbage cans—two other tasks that we’ve accepted as part of the suburban lifestyle.
We went through two hoses in as many seasons—one cracked under the blistering heat of summer and the other leaked so much I swear it let more water go than flowed through it. Thankfully, after testing seven best-selling hoses for this guide, I’m much more confident that these would last way longer than the ones taking up space in the garage. I also chatted with two experts—Blythe Yost, landscape architect, CEO, and co-founder of online landscape design company Tilly; and Coulter Lewis, CEO and founder of sustainable lawn care brand Sunday—about how to shop for a garden hose, along with maintenance and proper storage.
How we tested the best garden hoses
I identified the most common types of garden hoses, such as lightweight, heavy-duty, and expandable styles, and researched the best-sellers from our readers’ favorite online home improvement retailers—Amazon, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and more. I also checked in with Food52’s Home & Outdoor Living buyer Shareen Singh for her favorite watering hose, and crowdsourced our community. Our poll didn’t result in any clear favorites, so I’ll take that as a cue that this guide is more necessary than ever.
My testing pool consisted of seven hoses—six in 50-foot lengths and one 25-foot length because the longer length wasn’t available. I used each hose over the course of several weeks, watering my lawn and garden bed twice a day, and putting them through a series of tests that would mimic real-life situations, noting first impressions, prices, weight, and online availability (because of ongoing supply chain issues), as well as the parameters below. And for those wondering about my water bill—don’t worry, my house uses well water.
Security of fittings: There’s not much of a setup involved with a garden hose other than screwing it into a spigot or outdoor faucet and turning on the water. So, I focused on the security of the fittings and checked for any leaks as I attached each hose to my house’s spigot directly, as well as to a hose reel to test how easily the hoses would coil, and a leader hose so there would be more opportunities to test the fittings.
Ease of use and coiling: I noted how easy or difficult it was to maneuver each hose as I watered my lawn and garden beds, as well as how it coiled up with the hose reel.
Weight: Since weight can be an issue for those who can’t lift heavy items, I measured the weight of each hose with the popular Etekcity Luggage Scale.
Durability and kinks: I dragged each hose over concrete, gravel, Belgian blocks, and, of course, grass to test the durability of each hose, checking for abrasion, fraying, and more along the length of the hose as well as the fittings. Many hoses laud their kink-free ability, so I twisted the hoses as I dragged them around to see how badly they wound around themselves.
Crush resistance: I practiced my driving skills and literally drove over each length of the hose to see if they’d bounce back, as well as the fittings on both ends of the hoses to test how crush-resistant they were under the wheels of a 4,608-pound car.
Of the seven hoses that I tested for this guide, three didn’t make the cut. There also aren’t any runners-up this time around because of a more limited testing pool (hello, supply chain issues). For the TL;DR version of our testing and results, check out the handy chart below. For all the deets, keep on reading.
1. Best lightweight garden hose: Teknor Apex Zero-G Water Hose
Weight: 4 pounds
At just four pounds for a 50-foot long hose, this was one of the most lightweight hoses I tested. It was also one of the least frustrating because of its woven construction, which looks and feels like thick nylon rope. This made it easier to maneuver around corners and coil on the hose reel—something I grew to appreciate as I cranked each one like it was a workout move.
The fittings were smooth and secure, with no leaks to speak of even when I turned my spigot to the heaviest flow. The diamond pattern texture offered more grip over the smooth hexagonal ones on other hoses and looked less beat-up after dragging it around.
The hose’s construction flattened underneath my car’s wheels but bounced right back up—and it didn’t affect performance. The metal fittings didn’t get crushed underneath the weight of my car either, and since they’re round, I was less worried they’d puncture the tires.
2. Best heavy-duty garden hose: Dramm 17005 ColorStorm Rubber Garden Hose
Weight: 8.1 pounds
The Dramm 17005 Colorstorm is a classic rubber watering hose, which means it’s tough and durable, but potentially unwieldy if you don’t use a reel. At around eight pounds, it also ensures you’ll get a good arm workout while tending to your grass and garden.
While flexible, the thick rubber is more rigid than vinyl or PVC so it was difficult to maneuver around corners. Instead of snaking around the slate that borders my garden bed, it would skim over them instead, knocking the top piece off with its heft. And if you have any walkway lights like I do, be careful of knocking them down, too.
The fittings were smooth and didn’t leak during testing, although they did get scratched up. The thick rubber stood up to gravel and concrete the best out of the testing pool and didn’t show any signs of abrasion along the length of the hose.
While most hoses—especially rubber ones—are usually black or green, Dramm’s comes in six bright shades that you’ll never confuse for a snake (yes, that has happened to me). It also means you won’t accidentally drive over it, but if you did, it’d hold up just fine—the wheels of my car barely made a dent in the rubber and the hose seemed to bounce back like nothing ever happened.
3. Best expandable garden hose: HydroTech Burst Proof Expandable Garden Water Hose
Weight: 2.1 pounds
I gotta say, watching an expandable hose fill up with water is pretty mesmerizing. It starts off thin but gets wider and wider as water flows through. I must warn you though that the green and grey stripes do resemble a snake, so if you forget that the hose is on your lawn, you will definitely scare yourself—a recurring theme from this testing round.
Once I got over my fears, testing this hose was actually such a breeze because it’s so lightweight and so easy to maneuver. At a little over two pounds, it’s the lightest hose I tested and the woven construction was flexible enough to snake around rocks, bushes, and more without worrying about knocking something over. It’s also easy to coil, though it shrinks down so much that you can get away without a reel—a good solution for small spaces.
The woven construction is similar to the nylon straps on a duffel bag, so it suffered more abrasion than the other hoses and frayed in some areas. The thick plastic fitting was by far the easiest on my hands, but like the rest of the hose, it showed the most wear after the drag test. Surprisingly, it didn’t crack under the weight of my car.
The brass nozzle on the other side has a shower setting so you don’t need a separate one, and even has a shut-off valve so you’re not wasting water or accidentally spraying yourself as you turn on your spigot or walk around with the hose. This is a much more elegant and cost-effective solution to buying a separate—and often utilitarian—garden hose nozzle.
4. Best affordable garden hose: Teknor Apex NeverKink Hose
Weight: 6.8 pounds
While the Hydrotech is reasonably priced for an expandable hose, I’m going to knight the Teknor Apex NeverKink Hose as our affordable pick for those wanting a more traditional vinyl style. It’s durable and tough, and should last years with proper maintenance and storage, giving you tons of value for the price.
The brass fittings didn’t reveal any leaks, though they were tougher on my hands to twist onto the spigot and leader hose. The vinyl hose itself was easier to coil on the reel than the Dramm because it’s lighter and more flexible, though it showed more abrasion than the others I tested, especially on creases that developed when kinks wouldn’t work themselves out. However, every hose will kink and most will crease eventually, so neither of these are deal-breakers.
You can clearly see the hose flatten out when the car ran over it, but it bounced back up afterwards with no effect on performance. Unless you park your car over it for a long time, it should be fine.
5. Buyer Fave: Garden Glory Swedish Garden Hose & Nozzle
Weight: 8.2 pounds
With the exception of the Dramm, most of the hoses I tested are more utilitarian and less aesthetically driven. But Garden Glory’s hose and nozzle set definitely gets points for form and function with its soft neutral shades and sleek nozzles. Singh, our Home & Outdoor Living buyer, loves the beautiful colors—Eucalyptus is her fave—and the sturdy brass nozzle.
It comes in a 65-foot long length, which is longer than the usual 50-feet hoses that I tested and perfect for those who need the extra length without needing to buy a second hose. The PVC exterior is UV-protected and dirt-repellent so it won’t show the usual wear and tear as easily, and the interior is reinforced with a weaving that makes the hose flexible while preventing kinks.
Similar to the HydroTech, the hose includes a nozzle with three watering settings for jet, soft shower, or mist, so you’re ready to water your lawn or fill up the kiddie pool.
Are flow rates and burst pressure important factors when shopping for garden hoses?
I came across these two terms often when finalizing the testing pool, and ultimately, chose to disregard them as parameters. Flow rate refers to the volume of water coming out of a hose, and burst pressure refers to the amount of pressure a hose can handle before it bursts. The former depends entirely on your own water pressure and the hose’s diameter (for reference, I tested hoses with ⅝-inch diameters, which is common for a 50-foot length hose), so flow rates will differ for everyone. Yost also doesn’t take burst pressure into account and instead, prioritizes how well it connects to a spigot or faucet, ease of use, if the hose kinks—real-world parameters that would affect your watering experience more than burst pressure.
What garden hose length do you need?
Most garden hoses come in lengths of 25, 50, 75, and 100 feet, so you can get the one that covers your space. Hoses between 50 and 100 feet long should suffice for lawns less than 5,000 square feet, and “anything larger should have an in-ground system to ensure uniform watering,” says Lewis.
What about materials?
There are tons of hose materials and each one has its advantages and disadvantages—so it really depends on your needs. For durability and flexibility, Yost recommends rubber over vinyl, which can “kink more and break down over time if left in the elements.” It’s more expensive, but can be worthwhile in the long run.
How should you store a garden hose?
“Always expel water from the hose before putting it away,” says Lewis. “You can do this by shutting off the water and leaving it so gravity can do its thing. Once all the water has drained, roll the hose and store away from sharp areas, pests, or backyard critters that might puncture the hose.”
Yost also suggests a high-quality hose reel for permanent storage. “At the very least, coil your hose in a neat ring when you’re finished with it. This will keep it from kinking and allow it to flake out easily when you want to pull it somewhere,” says Yost.
For out-of-season storage, Lewis says to detach your hose from the spigot and either pressure spray or let gravity get to work and remove all the water from the hose before storing in a dry area, like a garage or shed.
When is the best time to water your lawn and garden?
“Watering your grass and plantings early in the morning is generally best,” says Yost (good thing I tested hoses right after my a.m. coffee!). “Watering in the morning will give the roots a chance to soak up as much water as they can to get through a sunny day. This also reduces mold or fungus by drying leaves thoroughly before the cool evening temps.” (Oops.)
Yost advises against watering in the middle of the day when temps are at their hottest because “the water on the surface of your soil can evaporate quickly and you will use more water than needed.”
Written by: Jada Wong
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