Just about anyone who gardens is going to use a garden hose at some point. Garden hoses are easy to find; they’re available at garden centers, hardware stores, discount stores, big box stores and sometimes even at a supermarket. The trick is trying to find a garden hose that won’t leak, kink or burst under pressure.
What are the qualities that differentiate between a good garden hose and cheap, poor-quality hose? The price of a garden hose won’t always indicate the quality of the product, but in general, expect to pay more for a good quality hose. A twenty-dollar hose from a discount store might seem like a good deal, but if that hose splits or kinks and needs to be replaced after being used only briefly, you haven’t really saved any money.
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A good garden hose should last for many years with normal use. Key components of a good-quality hose include the couplings on each end and the material of the hose itself.
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Solid brass couplings are a must for a high quality garden hose. Machined brass couplings are much stronger than formed brass couplings. Formed brass couplings are thinner than machined couplings, making them more likely to becoming deformed. A deformed or bent coupling is sure to be leaky. Check the labeling on the hose before purchasing it. The label or catalog description should indicate if the couplings are machined.
If the couplings on your garden hose do become deformed and leaky, replacement couplings can be purchased for a quick repair. Many hardware stores and some gardening catalogs offer replacement couplings for sale. Look for solid brass couplings, which will be stronger and last longer than nylon or plastic couplings.
The material that the hose itself is made from also makes a big difference. A heavy duty rubber or PVC garden hose will last much longer under normal use than an inexpensive polyurethane, plastic or vinyl hose. A good quality hose will also be reinforced and may have multiple layers, or plies. Hose material that is a single layer is much more likely to kink. Once a plastic hose gets a kink, it will remember that kink and hold onto it forever, making that hose virtually useless. A rubber hose may still kink occasionally, but untwisting the hose or giving it a good shake will release the kink once and for all.
A good-quality garden hose typically has a collar at the hose end where it attaches to the spigot. This collar prevents the hose from kinking at that crucial area while it is attached to the spigot. Some collars are solid plastic while others are coiled wire. A garden hose without a collar is sure to kink at the spigot end if it is pulled to tightly.
Look for a garden hose that offers a guarantee. If the manufacturer stands behind their product, they are more likely to be offering a quality product. A cheap hose generally carries no guarantee at all, while a good-quality garden hose may offer a one, three, or even ten year replacement guarantee. A Flexogen hose even comes with a lifetime warranty, so the manufacturer has a lot of confidence in the quality of their product.
Always purchase only as much garden hose as you need. A long hose can be quite heavy, making it difficult to move the hose around from one area of the garden to another. If you need only a fifty foot hose most of the time but occasionally need one hundred feet of hose, it’s better to buy two fifty-foot hoses. Over time, the weight of a long hose wound on a reel can stretch and damage the garden hose.
Taking good care of a garden hose will increase its lifetime. Sunshine will break down both rubber and plastics, so a hose should never be left in the sun for a length of time. If the hose is stored on a reel, the reel should be kept in a shady area. Never leave a hose lying stretched out in the sun, and always drain the hose before storing it. A hose that is filled will be very heavy and the extra weight can damage both the garden hose and the reel where it is stored. A garden hose that is left full of water can also be damaged when the warm sun causes the water to expand and stretch the hose from within.
It is best to store a garden hose coiled on a reel, but always bring the entire length of the hose to the reel before winding it, rather than using the reel to draw in and wind the hose. Wind the hose neatly but loosely on the reel, without crossing the loops. A hose that is wound in a stretched mode will become permanently stretched, making it more likely to kink. If a hose is wound too tightly on a reel, the portion of the hose nearest the center of the reel will become crushed.
If you keep more than one length of hose stored on a reel, it’s a good idea to alternate the hoses now and then, so the same one isn’t always the hose on the bottom that carries the most weight.
To keep the hose from leaking at the couplings, soft rubber washers should be placed within each coupling. For best results, replace the washers each year. Hose couplings should only be tightened by hand. If you find that a pliers is necessary to tighten the couplings, then it’s time for new washers. But don’t buy too many washers all at once. They will harden with age and become useless, so buy only as many as you need each year.
You won’t save money by buying cheap a cheap garden hose that needs to be replaced regularly. Instead, purchase a good quality hose and care for it properly, and in the long run you’ll come out ahead of the game.