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Best Garden Hoses

Garden hoses are unremarkable when they work well, but if they underperform, they’ll drive you insane. After several years of testing—washing cars, gardening, pressure washing driveways, and doing other hosey home chores—we found the Dramm ColorStorm Premium Rubber Hose (50 feet) is the all-purpose garden hose we’d invest in. It’s not perfectly kink-proof—none of them are—but its sturdiness and dependable performance go far beyond that of the twisted, knotted, worthless garbage hoses that probably inspired you to search for something better.

The Dramm ColorStorm Premium Rubber Hose (50 feet) is far from being the cheapest hose you’ll ever find, but after testing the bargain models and the midrange options, we’re convinced the best value in a garden hose is the one you can buy once and use indefinitely. The Dramm’s uncrushable nickel-plated brass couplings have big flat facets you can grip with a wrench or locking pliers to break a stuck connection. Although the lifetime warranty and solid customer support are reassuring, we’re confident (after our own tests and customer anecdotes about long-term use) that you may never need to take Dramm up on it. Durable and versatile, this hose is perfect for all kinds of utility work (even though it can be a bit of a beast if you’re just quickly watering a small patio garden).

It’s not quite as polished on all the details as our pick, but the Continental Commercial Grade Rubber Hose (50 feet) is an excellent value: It’s tougher than the cheapest hoses by a mile, and for not much more money. The Continental resembles a Craftsman rubber hose we’ve recommended for years in this guide. Though that model has become hard to find, the Continental now has nearly ubiquitous availability at home centers and hardware stores. Like the Dramm, the Continental can feel like overkill for small watering jobs, but it’s a really solid choice for anyone who wants something that’s reliable, not too fussy, and durable enough for any landscaping, maintenance, or construction work.

The HoseCoil ?-inch Self Coiling Garden Hose (25ft) is neither as tough nor as long as our other picks, but for a small patio, balcony, or yard—where dragging around a big 50-footer feels like overkill—it’s a fine alternative. The HoseCoil’s main selling point is its retractable corkscrew design, which works as advertised in making the hose easy to extend, recoil, and store. Compared with our bigger picks, this ?-inch-diameter hose loses a quarter-inch of capacity, which translates to slightly lower water pressure in side-by-side trials. Although the HoseCoil’s total length is 25 feet, in practice it’s really good for only about 17 feet before it starts to strain. As with our heavier-duty picks, the HoseCoil’s nozzle end has flat facets for a wrench to grab. And its two-year warranty is reassuring; though we’ve heard of some HoseCoils lasting longer, hitting the two-year mark is about what we’d expect. We have a test unit that’s doing fine after months of continuous Southern California sun exposure.

 

For a full-featured hose nozzle that can shower delicate flowers just as well as it can blast the mud off a truck tire, we recommend the Melnor 65020-AMZ Metal Nozzle. You can find a lot of similar nozzles, but the Melnor stands out due to its durable construction and its good variety of spray patterns, as well as how nicely it sprays. The Melnor has a hefty metal body with a hard rubber padding at the grip area (the spraying nozzle itself is plastic). It has seven spray patterns that run the gamut from a car-rinsing jet stream to a mist that can water even the most delicate seedlings. Compared with six other nozzles we recently tested, the Melnor not only felt the most durable but also had a spray that was simply better: The shower setting was a perfect shape with hardly any spitting, the jet setting shot water the farthest, and we never saw any dripping out of the front of the nozzle. This pick replaces the Melnor 5-Pattern Watering Nozzle 301-416, which has had a lot of leaking issues (including a specific event when it leaked and drained Wirecutter senior staff writer Doug Mahoney’s well completely dry).

 

The classic Gilmour Full Size Zinc Pistol Grip Nozzle is a longtime Wirecutter recommendation that further proves five bucks is plenty to spend for a satisfying hose nozzle, as long as you’re willing to make a concession or two. This tool contains none of the plastic parts common to competitors in its price range, and it lacks the familiar rotating wheel of spray settings. Instead, when you depress the trigger, you get a range of sprays—from a mistlike cloud, at minimal pressure, on up to a forceful jet, when the trigger is fully depressed. You can adjust a setting screw to customize this range slightly, but it’s nowhere near as targeted as the settings on the Melnor model. That doesn’t matter much when you’re washing the car (which the Gilmour is perfect for). But the Gilmour can be frustrating to use when you’re trying to water small container plants: You’ll spray water everywhere, and when you’re correcting that, you might shoot a beam of water at the base of a plant, blasting dirt and damaging roots. We’ve been using versions of this tool for the better part of a decade, taking horrible care of them all the while (they still work fine). And we’ve confirmed in testing in 2021 that a new Gilmour is still as solid and reliable as the ones we bought years ago.

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