Buying a Good Garden Hose

how to buy a garden hose

While it’s back-to-school for many of us, whether we’re the student or the parent, this time of year produces seasonal sales!

Needing a new garden hose, one of my neighbors asked me which one was the best “deal” among options available to them.

While listing any personal preferences you have, or reviewing ‘gee whiz’ attributes advertised by the manufacturer, a little research might get the best garden hose for your needs at the best price.

According to many of those who deal in garden hoses, a good hose should last 5-10 years. If your experience with garden hose life span was far shorter than that it might be worth investing more money in a quality product that will be with you for a while.

When purchasing a garden hose or “hose pipe,” consider these recommendations.

  • When considering length, longer isn’t always better.   They’re heavier to move around, more difficult to drain well, and water pressure can be a problem at end of the hose. Most decks and balconies do OK with a 25 ft hose, smaller urban yards do fine with 50ft of hose. If your yard requires more than 50 feet, consider buying two 50’ and combining them to reach the far corners.
  • Hose diameters are based on inside measurements, with 3/4, 5/8, and 1/2 inch standard sizes. For most jobs, a 5/8 inch is useful, combining sufficient water flow and pressure without weighing ‘a ton.’
  • Garden hoses are available in several colors and materials. Most hoses are made of rubber, vinyl, or a mixture of the two. Basic vinyl (sometimes reinforced with cord) is least expensive, and the lightest. But it’s the least sturdy, so if your hose will see heavier use, consider one made of rubber. Longer-lasting, they are also heavier and initially more expensive.
  • Strength or “burst pressure” is another consideration. Burst pressure if the water pressure at which the hose is likely to rupture, so if using a hose nozzle or sprinkler, the burst pressure should be higher than 350 psi (pounds per square inch).
  • Try the “kink” test to ensure the hose is flexible enough to go around corners but not so flexible it kinks easily. All garden hoses will kink, but usually rubber and reinforced hoses are less likely to do so. When shopping for a hose, try bending it in a “U” shape. If that force causes it to kink, try a different hose!
  • Hose couplings, i.e. spigots, nozzles, sprinklers are end pieces that can make using the hose more or less successful. As much as budget will allow, stay away from plastic couplings as they leak, crack, and break more often than other materials. Go with metal couplings which are usually brass that is either stamped or cast. Cast brass is the most durable and leak-resistant, if the coupling is in an octagon shape it will be easier to tighten and loosen. Better hoses come with a 4-6” collar of plastic or rubber extending from the coupling, reducing the chance of kinking or splitting near the spigot, where the problem commonly occurs.

With so many options available, choosing the right or best hose can be confusing but take your time, do a little research, and take home the best, most cost- effective choice for your needs.

By Sallie Lee, Urban Regional Extension Agent, Alabama Cooperative Extension System.  Contact Sallie at

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) operates as the primary outreach organization for the land-grant functions of Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities. ACES is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and the diversity of its workforce.  Educational programs of ACES serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or national origin.

Alabama Extension

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System operates as the primary outreach organization for the land-grant functions of Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities and answers home-gardeners' questions each week on Birmingham Gardening Today.

One thought on “Buying a Good Garden Hose

  1. Another consideration for hose seekers, especially for hoses around youngsters and vegetable gardens/fruit orchards–whether the hose materiak is “drinking-water safe” or carcinogenic. Many common hoses are carcinogenic; they are required to state on the label: “The materials used for this hose have been found to be carcinogenic by the State of California.” Drinking safe hoses will usually state on the hose label: “Drinking safe hose.”

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