Magazine article Sunset

How to Choose the Right Garden Hose

Magazine article Sunset

How to Choose the Right Garden Hose

Article excerpt

In general, you get what you pay for, but don't let price be your sole guide

FOR MOST OF US, A hose is a hose is a hose, as long as it transports water from the faucet to the garden. But if you've ever struggled with a cheap hose--one that's hard to maneuver and a wrestling match to coil, that kinks at the faucet and sprouts leaks after just a few years--you know there is more to a good hose than meets the eye.


Price. The old saw, "you get what you pay for," generally applies to hoses. Money isn't too much of an object, since the price for a 50-foot, 5/8-inch hose tops out at about $30--choose one guaranteed for life. As you'd expect, the ones in the $20 range are usually better than the less-expensive models, although an article in the May 1993 Consumer Reports cited a Sears Craftsman hose as a pretty good deal at only $8.

Materials. All hoses are not created equal. Depending on the manufacturer, a hose may be made of rubber or vinyl or a combination of the two. The best hoses incorporate multiple layers of reinforcing fabrics such as nylon or rayon. However, the number of layers in a hose can be misleading because manufacturers count and bond the layers differently, and, in some cases, a layer may not have any impact on quality. Just because a hose has five plies doesn't mean it's necessarily better than a hose with four.

Fittings. Hose couplings and swivels can be another quality indicator. The strongest couplings are made of brass--the thicker, the better--and the best swivels are hexagonal (as opposed to round). …

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