The number one thing you need to look at when shopping for a gardening hose is length. In general, garden hoses come in a variety of lengths. You can’t just pick one and hope it works. It’s important to know the distance from your outdoor faucet (tap) to wherever you will be using your hose. Many modern American homes feature more than one outdoor faucet, which makes things easier. However, if you only have one outdoor faucet, you may wish to get with a much longer hose, because you’ll need it to cover more area.
After you decide which hose length you need, check out hose diameter and hose material. Some may say you need to consider these separately, but really, they go hand in hand, the reason being that what material a hose is made out of will sometimes dictate its thickness or its thickness range.
If you have major watering needs, opt for a hose with a larger diameter. When the diameter is larger, more water naturally flows through the hose. This is a good idea for people who will be filling up swimming pools and manmade ponds. However, if you have a small garden or live in an area where you are limited in how much water you can use, opt for a smaller diameter hose. Less water will flow through at a given time, allowing you more control over how much you use—plus, its flow won’t drastically over-exceed your needs.
On the subject of material, you want to weigh hose material against two factors: your climate and your usage. If you live in a climate with extreme heat or extreme cold, you should take care to choose a hose material that’s indicated for those issues. As for usage, what are you using it for? Do your hose applications logically dictate that you go for a heavy-duty rubber hose that’s capable of standing up to a lot of abuse and usage? For instance, if you’re a homeowner with a small vegetable patch, you have a lot more options than a professional who will be using their hose all day has. And if your watering applications are industrial in nature (such as farming), then you’re going to need to pay special attention to durability.
You might be wondering right now which material is best. The truth is, however, that you choose the material to suit your needs. For instance, vinyl hoses are great for some purposes while other hose materials are much better for other purposes. Always read what material a hose is made out of and weigh that against your watering applications.
If you have children and pets, or if you’re going to be watering vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers, it is absolutely crucial that you go for a lead-free hose. I cannot stress this enough. Lead-free hoses are always a good idea, but they truly are the best garden hose when children are around, especially. Lead is a toxic metal. In enough quantities, it kills. In smaller quantities, it causes permanent brain damage and developmental issues. Therefore, it’s vital children never come into contact with lead. It’s important to note that many lower quality hoses DO contain lead, whether they mention it or not in the specs, so always go for a hose that explicitly states that it is lead-free. Don’t just assume all hoses—even nice ones—are lead-free.
There are other safety features to look for in a good garden hose as well. Opt for a hose that is resistant to mold and mildew—especially if you live in a high-humidity area, or an area known to have mold issues. Even if you don’t meet either of those criteria, it’s still a good idea—especially if you or anyone in your household has asthma, allergies or a compromised immune system due to chemotherapy, an autoimmune disorder or other factors. Some of the newer hoses may even have an antimicrobial layer inside to prevent the overgrowth of bad bacteria, which, if your kids or pets were to drink it, could make them sick.
Consider where you’re going to store your hose. It’s not a good idea to just leave it lying on the ground. Go for a hose that can be stored in the way that works best for you, or that comes with its own storage option. This will protect your investment.
Some hoses have special properties that make them last longer or just get rid of the annoyances people associate with hoses. For instance, one the main issues any hose can have is that it can kink. A bad kink can stop water flow. Obviously, this isn’t good. Opting for a hose that’s anti-kinking will save you from this common annoyance and also boost your watering efficiency. Other hoses feature extra layers for durability; if you use hoses around sharp objects or just want an extra-durable hose that isn’t prone to rips and tears, then opt for durability-boosting features.