A good garden hose is an essential tool for homeowners and gardeners who have lawns and plants that need regular watering. Unlike lawn mowers or string trimmers, however, there aren't many professional garden hose reviews, making it difficult to single out a single brand as the best. While doing our research, we found some good tips for buying a garden hose, as well as some useful consumer input. If you're planning to buy a new hose this spring, read on.
Garden hose tips and reviews
We found two excellent sources of information on buying a quality garden hose: HomeDepot.com and Lowes.com. Both retailers post a number of useful buyer's guides on their respective websites, and we find the information to be factual and easy to understand. Other normally-reliable sources, like ThisOldHouse.com, ConsumerReports.org and Good Housekeeping, don't have such information; sources like WiseGeek.com or eHow.com tend to be much less detailed. We did find a handful of garden hose reviews, most notably at Amazon.com and About.com (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation).
Choosing a garden hose
There are four key elements to look for when buying a garden hose, according to the sources we consulted:
Rating garden hoses
As we mentioned earlier, professional reviews of garden hoses are scarce online, though we did find some user reviews at retail sites like Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com and Lowes.com. At Amazon, the hose that gets the most reviews is the 100-foot Gilmour Flexogen Hose (*Est. $52). It earns an average score of 4 out of 5 from more than 50 owners, far more than do the majority of garden hoses that Amazon sells. Most owners say they're satisfied with the Gilmour Flexogen, although we found several complaints -- most of them a few years old -- about hoses that leak or split. These hoses carry a lifetime warranty and feature brass couplings and eight-ply construction, although the Gilmour website doesn't specify what material the Flexogen hose is made of.
Amazon is the only retailer where significant numbers of user reviews are posted for garden hoses. The top-selling hose at Amazon, the 50-foot Apex AquaPure NeverKink Eco-smart and Family-safe Garden Hose (*Est. $30), earns an average 4-star score (out of 5) from about a half-dozen user reviews. Other hoses in the NeverKink line are top sellers at HomeDepot.com and Lowes.com.
Interestingly, neither Gilmour nor Apex NeverKink hoses are recommended in two professional reviews we found at About.com and 3Luxe.com. Marie Iannotti, About.com's gardening guide, recommends Ace Hardware's FlexTech All Season Garden Hose (*Est. $37 for the 100-footer), while 3Luxe.com's editors recommend three brands -- all of which earn far more negative votes than positive from readers.
Because of the lack of consensus, we can't recommend a particular brand as the best garden hose, although we've found in the past that user reviews such as those posted at Amazon.com tend to be a good indicator of real-world performance.