A garden hose is an essential part of your outdoor toolbox. But before you go shopping, here are some definitions to help you untangle garden hose terminology. And, if your old water hose is still salvageable, we've also included a few tips on how to repair it.

Getting the Perfect Garden Hose

No matter if you've got a postage stamp backyard or a lawn that stretches across several acres, a garden hose is an essential piece of equipment. It's used for everything, from watering plants and grass, hosing off toys and walkways, and washing your car. Find the one that matches your needs.

Hose Terminology

Learn the lingo before going shopping so you can understand how to match your needs to the right garden hose.

  • Rolled up black garden hose


    Vinyl and vinyl-reinforced hoses are inexpensive, lightweight and easy to handle. Rubber hoses and hoses reinforced with rubber are heavier and more durable. Because of their durability, rubber hoses have a slightly higher price tag. Reinforced hoses stand up to temperature changes better and are less likely to kink or burst.

  • Rolled up black garden hose


    A ply is a layer. More plies means more strength. Household hoses vary from one to six plies.

  • Rolled up black garden hose


    The bigger the diameter, the more water will be delivered. Hoses of 1/2 inch, 5/8 in., 3/4 in., and 1 in. are available. The most common sizes are 3/4 in. and 5/8 in.

  • Rolled up black garden hose


    Hose is sold in increments of 25 feet, usually 25 to 100 ft. in total length. Water pressure diminishes as the hose length increases, so buy a hose that's long enough to reach where you'll be using it and no longer. If you occasionally require a long hose, buy two shorter hoses and combine when needed. If you have two spigots, put one hose at each water supply.

  • Garden hose coupling

    Coupling (Or Fitting)

    The coupling is where the hose attaches to the water supply. Your two main choices are brass and plastic. Brass is more durable than plastic but may be difficult for anyone with limited hand strength to tighten to the spigot. For easy hand tightening, choose a hose with an ergonomically shaped plastic coupling.

Hose Types

In addition to the common type hose, there are other specialty types available.

Soaker hose in the middle of a crop field

Sprinkler & Soaker

These hoses are made especially for lawn and garden irrigation. Sprinkler hoses are designed for use on the ground surface and also dotted with holes on one side to gently spray upwards. A soaker hose is porous and can be buried under a layer of mulch. The hose leaks small amounts of water directly to your garden's or flowerbed's roots with little waste.

Golden retriever puppy on a sidewalk drinking from a garden hose

Boat, Marine or Recreational

If you grab an occasional drink from your hose on a hot day, get a hose that's designated boat, marine, or recreational. Their plastic lining makes them safe for transmitting drinking water. The components used in standard hoses are not always safe for ingestion.

Rolled up black garden hose on mulch with green plants behind it


A space-saving flat hose expands to its full diameter when the water is turned on and stores flat when not in use.

Green garden hose coming out of a red wheeled container


These hoses are designed for hot water and heavy-duty continuous use.


Hose Maintenance Tips

A quality hose with the proper nozzle is a good investment. Buy a good one, take care of it and it will last a long time. To prolong the life of your hose:

Green hose stored in a black box

Look for Sun Protection

Keep it out of the sun. Hot water expands in the hose; UV rays weaken the material.

Woman holding a blue kinked hose

Coil to Avoid Kinks

Coil after use, either by hand or with a hose reel. If the hose kinks, re-roll it immediately to prevent splitting.

Inside of a garage with various tools by the wall and a yellow hose hung up

Get Proper Winter Storage

During winter, drain the hose and store it out of the elements.

Repairing a Hose

It's usually not too difficult to spot a leak in a garden hose. They always seem to be located in just the right spot to spray you in the face, but don't get mad and throw away the hose. A simple, inexpensive repair may be all that's needed to put it back in working order.

Small leak in a yellow hose

Tiny Hole or Small Crack

Specially designed hose repair tape is available, or use common electrical tape in a pinch. Clean and dry the hose before applying. Overlap the tape as you wrap it around the hose. Don't wrap it too tightly or the hose will crease and the tape won't seal.

Two ends of a hose about to be attached

Leaking at the Spigot

A washer replacement is the simplest of all repairs and is often all that's needed. Washers dry or deteriorate with age. Simply remove the old one and pop in a new one. If it still leaks, replace the coupling.

Green garden hose with a huge leak in it

Large Leaks

Repair require cutting the damaged section out, and replacing with a new part that clamps or crimps on. When cutting away damaged parts, make straight cuts with a sharp blade. Take the removed portion with you when purchasing the replacement so you get the proper repair part and material (e.g. rubber, vinyl, etc.).

Replacement parts for a garden hose

Make Replacing Fittings Easier

Make sure the hose is clean and dry. Rub a little soap on the area you're repairing to make it more pliable and easier to work with.

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