Choosing A Garden Hose

Issues To Consider

Price is Important - A garden hose is one item where the difference in price can mean a big difference in quality--meaning how well your hose performs and how long it lasts. A 50-foot length of hose can cost less than $10 or up to $40 and carry a warranty ranging from two years to a lifetime. Generally, buy the best hose you can afford and you'll save money in the long run. Warranties tend to match prices and can range from five years to a lifetime guarantee.

The determinants of quality are the construction of the hose itself and of the couplings attached at either end. From the homeowner’s point of view the best hose is very flexible and seldom kinks. An inexpensive hose might be finished in a few years, while a high quality hose, properly cared for, will last at least ten years, and probably more.

How Long A Hose Do You Need?- Hoses come in different lengths – 25-, 50-, 75-, and 100 foot lengths. So you need to figure out how much hose you need in your particular back yard. Shorter hoses will have greater per-foot costs than longer ones, but are easier to drain and coil and are easily coupled to make longer lengths. To get into the physics of the issue, the volume of water delivered per minute by a hose drops as its length increases. For the fasterst water flow, use a hose that is as close to the exact length you need rather than one that is too long.

Construction Quality – Here you are looking for a hose that will last a long time and a hose that is flexible and does not kink.

Most hoses are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with additives for flexibility, resistance to abrasion and sunlight, and colorants. Generally, hoses are rated "good," "better," and "best." Higher quality hoses have synthetic rubber mixed with the PVC. The walls inside are another place where quality shows. Less expensive hoses have only an inner tube and covering. Better hoses add a two-part ply of synthetic yard around the inner tube to resist bursting, the best consisting of reinforcing with a spiral winding and a sheath of mesh.

Be aware that manufacturers differ in the way they count plies and not all plies affect performance. Ask to actually uncoil and handle a hose in the store. Packaging claims aside, a cheap hose will be stiff, hard to maneuver, and kink easily when you try to bend it into a "U" shape. Don’t be misled by the number of lyers in a hose; just because a hose has five piles, doesn’t mean it’s better than a hose with four.

Couplings indicate quality. The better ones are thicker, made of brass with an octagonal shape to make them easier to tighten and a heavier swivel on the female end. A cast coupling, rather than one that is extruded and stamped, is more durable. The next best choice would be round brass, then galvanized steel and last in line, plastic. The tang--the part that fits inside the hose--also holds the hose better on heavy couplings.

It is possible to connect two hoses that have different diameters. When coupling hoses of different diameters, always attach the larger one closest to the faucet. The smaller hose will help maintailn pressure as the water is forced in to it.

Capacity of The Hose - You also need to consider the capacity of a hose. Hoses range in diameter from 3/8, to 1 inch. The smaller the diameter, the less water the hose will deliver in a given period, and the difference can be significant. For instance, at 50 psi, a 3/4" hose delivers 3.5 gallons in 10 seconds, while a 1/2" hose delivers one and a third gallons in the same time. The smallest sizes work well for hand watering; the 5/8 size is most popular for watering lawns and gardens using a sprinkler attachment. Larger diameters are usually reserved for extremely large yards or commercially uses.

So let’s get to the bottom line. For general use, choose one of the 5/8 inch vinyl reinforced hoses, priced between $10 and $25. Buy ½ inch hose, priced between $5 to $20 only for short faucet-to-sprinkler reaches. Use a ¾ inch hose, priced between $20 and $40, only if you need more than 150 feet strung together.

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