For large scale watering of thirsty plants, the swift dousing of a filthy automobile or for filling up a paddling pool for summer fun times, a hose is the way to go.
Hoses will swiftly deliver water to where you need it – saving you time and backache in the process. Plus, they can be fitted with a variety of nozzles and attachments depending on your needs. Some hoses come ready supplied with tap fittings, but be sure to check before buying as you may need to purchase them separately.
Obviously, the most important connector is the one that joins the tap to the hose and, generally speaking, most are compatible with brands of accessories that share the same hose diameter.
It’s also worth noting whether the hose you choose is frost and UV resistant. Most are, but some of the hoses that sit at the cheaper end of the market may need housing in a shed or garage over winter to protect them from perishing prematurely.
Before striding out – hose in hand – it’s also worth bearing in mind that you shouldn’t be too liberal with your watery jet. Water is a finite resource and using a hose can guzzle through gallons in a very short space of time (a standard hose can splurge up to 17 gallons a minute). Be judicious with your watering – only use them when absolutely necessary and turn off the tap immediately once you’ve done your business.
We’ve wrestled with a selection of hoses and tested them for leakage, flexibility and water delivery. There are hoses aplenty to suit all your watery needs, but which are the ones that are worth your dosh? Here are seven of the best slender soakers currently on the market...
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Everflow unstoppable hosepipe, 50m
This lithe, RHS-endorsed pipe features a central, crushproof core which is designed to keep the water gushing even when the hose is kinked or crushed. It’s been dubbed “the unstoppable hose” which was like a red rag to a bull to us, and we did everything bar taking a set of loppers to it and still couldn’t stem the flow. Its springy properties make it a tricky hose to recoil and stow after use, but it’s a minor quibble. The hose we tested was 25 meters long, but 50 and 100-metre lengths are also available should you need something with a bit more reach.
Hozelock tuffhoze, 25m
Made from a mixture of woven fibre and PVC, this hose is a flexible friend to call upon for watering duties and boasts a muscular 40+ bar working pressure. We found it to have good crush resistance, with its slinky flexible form enabling it to snake around pots, rocks and other garden obstacles without snagging. Its unusual material makeup certainly gives it a rather serpentine appearance, so watch out for scares if you forgetfully leave it coiled in a flowerbed.
The only downside is that we found this hose can soon tie itself into a knotty mess if you carelessly bundle it up after use, so you might want to consider a hose hanger or similar for orderly shed storage. This hose also comes supplied with a tap connector and an adjustable spray nozzle for good measure.
Gardena comfort highflex hose, 30m
We’re not entirely sure where the “comfort” part of its name comes in, but we were impressed with this lightweight pipe, perfect for use in a medium-sized garden. It’s frost and UV resistant and withstands pressures of up to 30bar which makes it a good choice for hooking up to pressure washers. If you are remotely concerned about hosepipe aesthetics, you’ll love the racey orange, black and grey livery. Its pinch resistance was good, and the hose took quite a lot of crushing before we managed to restrict flow. The 25-year guarantee should also alleviate any concerns you have about its long term watery performance.
HydroSure soaker hose, 15m
It sounds like madness to buy a hose that’s riddled with holes, but this perforated pipe is built for irrigation. Secrete it in a flowerbed that needs regular watering, couple it to a length of standard hose and it’ll merrily seep water directly to the roots of your parched plants. We found its rate of saturation kept our plants suitably damp, without puddling or overwatering, and performed well at low pressures, making it way more efficient than a sprinkler system.
The pipe itself is quite malleable and kinks easily, but once you’ve got it placed in your flower bed or border, you shouldn’t really need to move it about. Hook your soaker hose to a timer and you can keep your plants moist without having to bother the outdoor tap.
Gardena textile hose liano, 20m
Similar in construction to Hozelock’s textile offering (£55.99, Amazon.co.uk), Gardena’s take on the kink-resistant hybrid hose comes supplied at the shorter length of 25m. A diameter of 13mm makes it slightly narrower too (and with it a lower, 25 bar burst limit) but it’s lighter in use and comes supplied with three sizes of tap connector and an adjustable spray head.
Gardena claims that their connectors are 100 per cent leak-free, and we have no reason to doubt them. Our hose coupled with the tap connector tightly and remained dribble-free throughout testing, with water erupting only from the end that mattered.
Karcher autoreel, 20m
Karcher’s watering wonder comes encased in a wall-mounted auto reel that swivels through 180 degrees on a lockable mooring to maximise mobility and to keep your hose tidily stashed away. Operation is smooth and easy – simply tug the hose out to your desired length – and the hose can be locked in at regular interval lengths (identifiable by an audible click as it feeds through the reel) to prevent it from springing back into the housing.
Recoiling is a simple case of pulling on the hose slightly to engage the mechanism in the reel which will then gather the hose back in a rather satisfying manner. Its 20-metre reach could be a little limiting for larger gardens and it’s a big old unit to have to hang off your wall, but if you’ve got the space it’ll make the chore of regular hose-work a whole lot easier.
Hozelock micro reel, 10m
This dinky number from Hozelock is perfect for small gardens and backyards where space is tight. It’s a 12mm diameter hose complete with tap connector and spray nozzle, neatly wrapped around a windable holder small enough to stash comfortably on a shed shelf.
In use, it’s super light to brandish and we were impressed with the sizable water jet that it produced. It also works just as well when partially unwound, so it’s great for just clipping into a tap for speedy watering of patio pots or flowery borders. Admittedly, the ten-meter, fully unwound length is slightly limiting, but that’s the compromise for such a tidy, space-saving hose.
The verdict: Garden hose
For bigger watering jobs, we would wholly recommend that you splash out on an RHS Everflow. But if you’ve only got the odd pot to water and want a small, space-saving solution for your patio or backyard space, you can’t go wrong with the Hozelock Micro Reel.
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