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If you tend a garden, a reliable hose is essential for keeping your shrubs lush and your flowers blooming. But finding one that doesn’t leak or kink and is easy to store can be a recurring source of frustration. It’s hard to know ahead of time whether a hose will hold up to seasons of heavy-duty use, so we spoke to nine seasoned gardeners about the models that have served them well over the years, from a stylish, nontoxic option for vegetable gardening to a retractable model made by an industry-favorite Australian brand.
What we’re looking for
Hoses come in a variety of lengths, and the right one for you will depend on the size of the outdoor space you’re regularly watering. “Don’t buy something that isn’t big enough to reach around your garden,” says botanist, ecologist, and kitchen gardener Becky Searle. But don’t overcorrect in the other direction: “If you’re dragging a really long hose around the garden, it will get very heavy, especially when full of water, and it may cause damage to your plants,” she says. If you’re not sure about the right length, measure from your spigot to the spot you’ll need to stand to water your furthest-out plants.
Both the length and the interior diameter of a hose impact the flow rate, or how many gallons of water per minute a hose can put out. (The third variable is water pressure, which can vary from home to home but is usually around 50 psi.) A hose with a thinner interior diameter has a slower flow rate — it will get less water to your plants in the same time as a wider hose — but may be lighter weight and easier to manage. The right option for your garden depends on how large an area you’re covering. In general, a larger interior diameter makes more sense for a larger garden; a lighter, lower-profile hose may be worth a few extra minutes spent watering a smaller space.
Most hoses are made from durable, synthetic materials like PVC and latex. Some have the additional benefit of being drinking-water safe, a certification extended by the product testing organization NSF International. Lauri Kranz, a co-author of A Garden Can Be Anywhere and the founder of the garden-planning and organic-food-delivery service Edible Gardens LA, recommends using a food-safe hose for watering edible crops, like vegetable and herb gardens. “The water coming through that hose is water that is going directly into the food we eat,” she says.
Best overall garden hose
Length: Three to 100 inches | | Interior diameter: 5/8-inch | Material: Drinking-water safe, aluminum fittings
This bright-green Flexzilla garden hose checks all our boxes: It’s drinking-water safe, easy to maneuver, affordable, and comes in a wide range of sizes that can suit almost any home lawn or garden. It’s a favorite of Florida garden influencer Corey Paul of Gardening with Goo, who gives it high marks for durability and heavy-duty construction but appreciates that it’s also lightweight and says it “won’t kink under pressure.”
Strategist writer Lauren Ro is also a fan of the Flexzilla hose, which she’s used for about two years — it’s “soft, easy to maneuver, and easy to gather back up,” she says. Although some people find the bright-lime color (which the brand styles as “ZillaGreen”) kind of garish, it has utility: It’s easier to spot ZillaGreen than a dark or muted color if you leave the hose in a far corner of your lawn or tucked behind bushes. In fact, Ro reports that the bright shade “helps you keep track of where it is while you’re watering so you’re not crushing your more fragile plants.”
Best expandable garden hose
Length: 50 inches | Interior diameter: 3/4-inch | Material: Latex tube, brass connectors
An expandable hose is a great space-saving option, used by the Southern California gardener and YouTube content creator known as CaliKim. This highly rated model from TBI Pro has four layers of latex to prevent leaks or bursting and can expand from 17 feet to 50 feet in length. Be sure to keep it stored out of the way when not in use: According to Timothy Hammond of Big City Gardener in Houston, “The same thing that makes them light and accessible also leaves them prone to tearing or punctures.” (CaliKim keeps hers hanging “neatly and compactly on a wall-mounted rack.”)
Best retractable garden hose
Length: 50 inches, 89 inches | Interior diameter: 9/16-inch | Material: PVC, nylon fittings
Hammond and gardener Katie Parks love the hoses from Australian manufacturer Hoselink, which has a great reputation among gardeners for durability and precise design. This one, which Hammond calls “an exceptional hose,” retracts with a tug into a wall-mounted holder when you’re finished watering, which helps prevent kinking and tangling. The holder can also rotate 180 degrees, which adds extra maneuverability.
Best stylish garden hose
Length: 50 inches, 100 inches | Interior diameter: 7/16-inch | Material: Drinking-water safe; free of BPA, lead, and phthalates; chrome-plated brass fittings
Kranz recommends this hose from Terrain, which she appreciates for being free of BPA, lead, and phthalates. (The manufacturer appears to be Water Right, Inc., which offers a wider range of lengths, interior diameters, and colors on its website, plus the coil model below.) It’s also the most stylish option on our list, available in trendy colors including a pinkish clay and teal. One thing to note: It’s on the narrower end, with a less than half-inch-wide interior diameter, and it has a flow rate of around four to five gallons per minute.
Best soaker garden hose
Length: 50 inches | Interior diameter: Not listed | Material: PVC, nylon fittings
Soaker hoses are the most basic of drip-irrigation systems: They’re flexible, often fabric-covered hoses with little holes in them that water near the base of the plant. Dimitri and Sara Gatanas, who own and operate the beloved East Harlem gardening store Urban Garden Center, love them because they “make life so much easier” than toting a full hose around. Parks recommends Hoselink’s model for its “gentle but soaking hose heads that supply a nice amount of water without disturbing seedlings or eroding soil with too powerful of a rush of water.”
Best drip irrigation kit
If you’re interested in trying out drip irrigation, CaliKim recommends this raised-bed kit because it’s “easy for beginners and has everything included to get started.” It includes different types of nozzles (from drips to mini-sprayers) that you can arrange based on your garden’s requirements. It’s big enough to cover 50 feet, which should handle ten rows of vegetables, but if that’s not enough, you can also connect multiple kits. And it’s UV resistant, so it’ll hold up through hot summers.
Some more gardening essentials we’ve written about
• CaliKim, garden blogger and YouTuber
• Dimitri Gatanas, co-owner of Urban Garden Center
• Sara Gatanas, co-owner of Urban Garden Center
• Timothy Hammond, garden blogger and content creator
• Lauri Kranz, co-author of A Garden Can Be Anywhere and founder of Edible Gardens LA
• Katie Parks, homesteader and content creator
• Corey Paul (Gardening with Goo), gardener and content creator
• Lauren Ro, Strategist writer
• Becky Searle, botanist, ecologist, and kitchen gardener
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