There are millions of gardeners in the United States, ranging from small individual home gardens to huge commercial or community gardens, growing millions of different plants. In fact, in the spring of 2014, a survey revealed that over 110 million people in the U.S. were participating in gardens that year. Of these, many reported being a devoted gardener.
There are as may options for garden watering methods and hose styles as there are gardens, and it?s often easy to think that they are all the same and simply purchase the cheapest one, but as professional or commercial gardeners know, all hoses are not the same. Small differences in functionality can create a big impact, as does the quality of the hose itself.
In choosing a garden hose, consider the size of the area in which you use it, and where you?ll store it, along with your budget considerations. There are also some specialized needs like industrial water hose or hoses that are drinking water safe (these are usually white or blue). In general, though, there are five things to consider.
The first is length. You can find garden hoses ranging between 25 feet and 100 feet long. Don?t buy anything longer than what you need. You might think it?s cost efficient to just buy one extra-long hose for all your needs around the home, but it?s not so. Longer hoses cost more, use more water, and are heavier to move around, as well as being more difficult to wind and store.
The second consideration is the hose diameter. Garden and utility hose diameters range from 1/2 to 3/4 inches, with a commercial water hose being wider. Obviously, the bigger the diameter, the more water the hose is able to carry. A 3/4-inch hose delivers three times the water of one with a 1/2-inch diameter. A hose width of five-eighths inch is commonly chosen for most mid-size lots, offering a balanced combination of water flow and pressure.
The material from which the hose is made is the third important consideration. While many residential and commercial garden hoses are made from vinyl or a blend, the best quality hoses are rubber. While they are the strongest and most long-lasting, they are also the heaviest, so if lifting heavy things is an issue for you, consider getting a rubber-vinyl blend that is a bit lighter.
The next aspect of a garden hose to be observant of is the kink factor. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to use a hose that keeps kinking and blocking water flow. Look for a garden hose that has thick walls and reinforced materials to keep the hose from twisting. Even kinkfree hoses are susceptible to twisting if they are not properly made or maintained.
Finally, consider the non-rubber parts of the hose such as the couplings. Be sure to get the best quality cast brass couplings. Plastic and stamped metal couplings are of lower quality and do not last long. They break easily and plastic especially is vulnerable to the elements. Cast brass is thicker, and usually in an octagonal shape. Cast brass couplings are leak resistant and durable and help extend the life of your garden hose.
While home gardeners often use lightweight hose, commercial gardeners need heavier equipment, often relying on soaker hoses. These are typically used for garden irrigation and are usually buried under the surface of the ground or under a layer of mulch. Commercial soaker hoses are best for shorter lengths and level areas, but can be adapted. Another option is sprinkler hoses, which also lay along the ground and shoot water towards the intended areas.
Still not sure what you need? Consider checking with a commercial garden supplier or professional master gardener to discuss your options.