Home / News / The best garden hose of 2023, tried and tested

The best garden hose of 2023, tried and tested

Jun 07, 2023Jun 07, 2023

Thirsty lawn? Read our edit of the best garden hoses with tips from Love Your Garden’s Camilla Bassett-Smith on how to hydrate your greenery

There are two types of people in this world – those that complain about rain and those that jump for joy because it’s good for the garden. If keeping your lawn lush during a dry spell is your top priority, one of the best garden hoses for 2023 will see you in good stead (hose pipe bans allowing, of course).

Our tried and tested edit includes expandable anti-kink hoses, retractable hoses and labour-saving designs that wind up manually, ranging in price from under £25 to over £100. I’ve chosen long hoses to suit large gardens as well as short ones for balconies and patios. I’ve also included an eco-friendly hose pipe made from 65 per cent recycled materials, which was recently a nominee in the RHS Chelsea Sustainable Garden Product of the Year 2023.

You can read my full reviews below, followed by advice from local and celebrity gardeners on how to choose the best garden hose for your garden (and how to keep it hydrated during a hose pipe ban). If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick look at my top five:

‘It’s a question I get asked often,’ says Camilla Basset-Smith, television horticulturalist on ITV’S Love Your Garden and RHS Plant Committee Member. ‘A 13mm or 15mm diameter bare hose is fine for filling a pond or watering large pots or trees in the ground, and a thumb over the end can vary the pressure/spray.

‘But many of us use our hose for watering baskets, pots, bedding, borders, vegetables and more, and in which case a spray gun or nozzle attachment is needed. Expandable hoses are very lightweight to use, so pick these if heavy lifting is an issue. And before you buy a hose, always check if connectors come fitted as part of the kit to attach the hose to your tap.’

I picked out the most popular hose pipes you can buy online and tested them out in my Dorset garden during a very hot, dry month. I chose a good mix of retractable, expandable and manual-reel hose designs in varying lengths. I wanted to see how easy they were to use and store, whether they kinked and how flexible their designs were. I rated the nozzles and any extras included in the box. I also asked local gardener Tamsin Newton-Snow (above) to try out each hose and tell me what she thought about their designs.

If you’re looking to smarten up your garden, by the way, you might also be interested in our guides to the best strimmer, best leaf blower and best secateurs.

Currently £109 for the 30m model, B&Q

Best overall, 9 out of 10

We like: automatically reels back in

We don’t like: it’s a little bulky so not ideal for small spaces

This Hoselock design is one of the best retractable hose reels I’ve tried and it comes in 10m up to 40m options. I tried the 30m to suit my garden and was instantly impressed at how easily it pulled out of the case and wound back after use. It’s wall-mountable and inside the box you’ll find the screws and wall bracket needed to place it onto a wall of your house or garden. The great thing about the UV resistant polypropylene case is that it protects the hose from the elements and keeps a spaghetti junction of hose neatly hidden away when not in use.

The set has tap connectors in the box and a slim adjustable hose attachment that gives you a range of options for jet spraying thirsty shrubs and misting delicate flowers. For a wider spray range, you’ll need to connect it to an attachment such as the Hozelock 5 Function Hose Spray Gun (£16). There’s a good choice of Hozelock sprinkler options that are also compatible such as the Hozelock Pro Oscillating Rotary Sprinkler (£30) and this worked really well on my circular borders.

‘I like the way this hose automatically locks when you’ve got enough hose length and with a simple pull you can unwind more hose,’ says gardener Tamsin. ‘The wall bracket lets you pivot 180 degrees so I could move around freely with only the odd kink when I got tangled around a winding border. After use, I simply tugged the hose and it reeled back smoothly into the casing.’

£70, Argos

Best value, 9/10

We like: the spray gun and sprinkler attachment that comes as part of the set

We don’t like: you need to be precise when reeling it back by hand

This 16.7mm-wide hose has the longest reel in our round up (50m), stored on a freestanding cart that makes it ideal for wheeling back into the shed for storage after use. The hose came pre-rolled and mounted onto the wheel, so all I needed to do to assemble it was slot the handle into place and use the two screws to secure it. There’s an extra length of pre-cut hose ready to connect the hose to the tap, which meant I didn’t need to cut into the 50m hose.

It comes with an adjustable hoze nozzle that worked well when watering the plants and delving into bushy areas of the garden. And despite its length, the water pressure didn’t suffer. There’s also an extra multi-jet spray gun that (like the Wickes spray gun reviewed further down) spells out its functions so that it’s easy to switch between options such as soaker, mist, cone, flat, jet and so on. There’s also a two-arm sprinkler included in the price too, which I think is makes it great value for money.

It took a little bit of time and care to reel it back neatly after use as the handle feels a little flimsy. But on the plus side, the cart wheels run smoothly, which meant that once it was reeled up I found it easy to move over the grass and patio and to the shed to pack away.

‘While this isn’t an anti-kink hose, it did well not to kink too much, which is surprising considering its length,’ says Tamsin. ‘It’s not too heavy in use either as the hose feels light, yet robust, and I was able to get right up to the end of the 30m garden and steer it easily around the vegetable patch.’

£109, Vonhaus

Best retractable garden hose reel, 9/10

We like: smoothly retracts after use

We don’t like: you’ll need wall space to house it

Like our number-one pick the Hozelock, this Vonhaus design automatically retracts after use. It’s similar in its 30m auto-reel offering, but comes with a spray-gun style nozzle attachment included in the price and is also cheaper.

I admired the solid and durable design, which has an attractive sober grey and orange finish and is wall mountable. It is large, however, and you’ll need an experienced DIY-er to install it, because you’ll need to drill holes into the wall. The fittings come in the box with a mounting bracket, wall plugs and screws included.

Just like the Hoselock Auto-reel hose, the case of the Vonhaus hose swivels 180 degrees on a pivot, which gave me flexibility to move around the garden. It also meant the casing can be pushed to one side so it didn’t stick out when not in use.

‘While the auto reel is excellent after a hard day’s gardening, you’ll need a bit of strength to unreel it at the start and this may not suit everyone,’ says Tamsin. ‘The 30m is a great length for a large garden and the hose feels like it’s built to last. I really like the spray options included that allow you to rotate between a simple spray/jet nozzle or the spray gun with eight options for mist, angle, centre, soak, shower, cone, flat and full power.’

£21.99, Amazon

Best expandable hose, 8/10

We like: great value and lightweight with useful spray options

We don’t like: it doesn’t quite retract to its box-fresh size after use

While the 15m resting length of this expandable hose is modest in comparison to other designs in our test, it extends up to three times its original length when filled with water. It gives you the flexibility of a longer hose without the bulk and is a great option if you have a small garden or balcony and don’t want a boxy hose case or wheel cart taking up room. It also comes with a hook to store it on and a small drawstring bag.

The expandable hose has a triple latex core with a polyester outer layer that is built to withstand continuous water pressure without leaking or tearing. As I only used it for a month in my garden, it’s hard to say whether it will stand the test of time, but the design felt well-made and comes with attractive gold alloy adapters.

‘I really like the lightness of this design and it’s super easy to use and carry and worked well with no kinks,’ says Tamsin. ‘The 10-pattern spray-gun attachment with labelling worked across bedding and pots. I think it’s a great hose for small- to medium-size gardens or borders on the front lawn. But there is a 30m version available (£29.99) if you want to reach further.’

£34, Wickes

Best hose for small gardens, 8/10

We like: spray gun with 7 modes

We don’t like: winding it up takes some getting used to

This 12.5mm diameter hose comes in a 21.5m length, so you can cut a 1.5m feeder hose yourself to connect to the tap. The instructions are basic, so I found it a little fiddly to put together at first, but with a little common sense I was able to water my garden effectively. As it’s 20m long, it didn’t quite reach all the areas I would have liked in my 30m-long garden, but it does offer a good variable spray gun with seven modes that gave me flexibility to water the bushy wisteria and the more delicate roses.

‘A good size for front lawns and small gardens, I think this 20-metre hose is reasonably priced and comes with a useful spray gun,’ says Tamsin. ‘But its plastic wind-up handle doesn’t feel as sturdy as others I’ve tried, and I found myself having to practise reeling it back up again to get the ‘knack’. I like how neatly you can store the design when rolled up as it comes with a convenient carry handle to make it easy to pop back into the shed after use.’

£175, Argos

Best freestanding retractable hose, 9/10

We like: the hose box swivels 360 degrees

We don’t like: requires a bit of DIY skill to install

This Gardena 20m hose comes in a storage box that is designed to be spiked into the lawn or a border. It has a pre-cut 1.8 hose in the box that connects the hose casing to the water tap. I think this design is great for anyone who doesn’t want a wall-mounted hose but wants one that’s readily available and stored outside. It’s UV and frost resistant, so you can leave it outside all year round too.

It took me a while to assemble this design as there are quite a few pieces to contend with and you’ll need a patch of grass or earth that is soft enough to spike into. There’s a rod included in the kit that helps you leverage the spike into the ground, but it did require a bit of effort, so bear this in mind when setting it up. I particularly like the way the hose automatically retracted smoothly with the help of the guide, so there were no kinks to contend with.

‘This hose comes with a nozzle that adjusts the water spray with a simple twist of the head,’ says Tamsin. ‘The hose was easy to pull out to the length I required, without the storage box toppling over. it felt like it was securely fixed to the ground. I liked the 360-degree swivel, too. It gave me the freedom to water from one side of the garden to another and I could feed more hose out with a simple tug.’

£21.99, Amazon, also available at Argos

Best eco-friendly hose 8/10

We like: its sustainable credentials

We don’t like: you’ll need to manually reel it yourself

Another ergonomic offering from Gardena worth noting is the 13mm-wide Ecoline hose, which comes in lengths ranging from 15m to 50m. Keep an eye out online for a bundle offer: at the time of writing, you can either buy the 18m hose by itself for £22 at Amazon or the Gardena Ecoline Watering Set attachments complete with sprinkler for £70 at Argos.

‘For a simple, no-frills hose pipe that is designed with a percentage of recycled plastic and metals, this makes for a sustainable choice,’ says Tamsin. ‘It’s made from TPE and is free from phthalates and heavy metals. You have to do a bit more self-assembly – although that takes minutes – and you’ll need to reel it up yourself too, and maybe hang it on a hook. I had no problems using it and there were no kinks.’

£98, B&Q

Best manually-winding hose, 8/10

We like: durable, robust and good quality design

We don’t like: manual reeling can be tiresome

This Hozelock Fast Reel hose is similar in its quality and nozzle offering to the auto-reel Hozelock at the top of our list. The main difference is that you’ll need to manually reel this hose by hand, which can take a little time. But there is a multi-directional hose guide that you mount on the wall just underneath it. That seemed to stop it kinking so much when I was winding it up after use.

I like the carry handle on the top of this hose casing that allows you to remove it easily from the wall bracket to move it around to another section of the garden, or just store it away in winter. It is quite heavy, however. You’ll need a bit of elbow grease to lift it.

‘While it’s called fast-reel, how speedily you can rewind the hose after use all depends on how energetic you’re feeling,’ says Tamsin. ‘I really enjoyed using this hose and it only kinked once while covering a large expanse of garden. The nozzle attachment included in the box works well, adjusting the spray with a twist, but I’d have like to have seen extras included in the box, such as a sprinkler or spray gun, as opposed to having to pay for them separately.

‘But as with most Hozelock products I’ve tried, I know this hose is a quality product that will last for years.’

From £65, B&Q

Best lightweight hose 8/10

We like: spray gun is easy to use and the hose easy to connect

We don’t like: water pressure wasn’t as powerful when the hose was stretched to its full length

The contracted length of this hose is 30m, but it can expand up to three times the size. I liked the simplicity of this design, which comes with a tap adapter that made it easy to connect and use straight away. It’s light and easy to store. You’ll need to connect it to the spray gun (£16), which is sold separately.

‘While it was light and easy to use, the water pressure wasn’t as powerful when the hose was stretched to full expanded length and used at the end of the garden,’ says Tamsin. ‘I found the spray gun easy to use and it comes with labelling for different spray modes.’

Currently £63, Amazon

Best hose for small patios and gardens

We like: carry handle to lift the hose off the wall mount

We don’t like: you lose hose length when cutting a piece off to connect to the tap

This hose pipe is a lot shorter than the others in our round up and would suit a small garden or patio with thirsty flower pots. It’s designed to be mounted on the wall (the name means ‘hose carrier’), but the reel comes with a handle that can be removed for easy storage. It took a little while to connect to the tap, since I needed to cut off a bit of hose and connect it up. To wall mount it, you’ll need to be proficient in DIY.

‘This hose comes with a basic nozzle attachment that was powerful and gave a good spray,’ says Tamsin. ‘Kärcher is a well respected brand and this feels like a quality hose. But for its price I would have liked to have seen a spray gun come included in the box too.’

£245, Garden Glory

Best looking hose, 9/10

We like: The excellent quality and sophisticated colours

We don’t like: 20m limit and the premium price tag

Garden Glory’s colourful range of garden equipment includes hose kits, spray guns, nozzles and hose holders in sophisticated shades such as rose, sand, eucalyptus green, gold and white lotus, with bronze-trimmed tap fittings that add to the luxurious feel.

The Blooming Blossom kit with a 20m Rusty Rose hose is a great choice for patios, balconies and smaller gardens where every design detail counts. The kit has a classic rack included for wall mounting, but the reindeer or claw hose holders that are sold separately are more eye-catching.

The hose has knitting reinforcement around the inner tube that makes it pliable and non-kinking; gliding it around the garden and winding it back up again felt satisfying. It comes with tap fittings and a spray gun that feels built to last and has a 10 year warranty.

‘The spray gun that attaches to this hose feels solid and well-built and has a good variable soft-mist to hard-jet spray range,’ says Tamsin. ‘The hose also has a nice weight to it that I found easy to move around the borders. For peace of mind, it’s good to know that the PVC hose is free from lead, cadmium and phthalates.’

£99.99, Amazon

Best portable hose, 7/10

We like: Stable and compact design with wheels for smooth transportation

We don’t like: Not wall mountable

This hose pipe set comes ready made, so it was a simple matter of getting it out of the box and connecting it to the tap to start watering. With its aqua, orange and grey finish, it has Gardena’s signature styling and the parts feel well built and premium.

It is possible to buy the frame without the hose, and it does have capacity for up to 60m, but for less than £100 on Amazon you’ll get a 20m hose included. This is more than enough for your average-sized lawn and the reasonable length means that manually rolling it up after use isn’t too laborious.

The lever feels rather more solid than other manually-rolling designs tested in our roundup and the fold out stand adds to the stability, both when unravelling the hose for watering and when you’re winding it back up after use.

‘I love the compact design of this hose that comes with a nozzle and 20m hose in the set,’ says Tamsin. ‘With a firm pull, it’s easy to unravel the hose pipe as much as you need to make your way around the lawn. The secondary roller that’s raised a little higher than the main roll makes winding and unwinding the hose easier, since it feeds in and out of its roll with less kinks.

‘I think it’s a great choice if you want to keep your hose pipe out of sight, but also want it to be easily accessible. The wheels make it lightweight enough to pull around the lawn and store away in the shed after use.’

Opt for a length that will comfortably cover your garden size. Find out if the hose needs to be cut to create a connection to the tap before you buy, because this will instantly reduce the advertised length. Also think about any obstacles on your lawn that will limit the stretch. And if you want the hose to reach both your back and front lawn via the side of your house, you’ll need to calculate a length that will comfortably reach before you buy.

‘So you can move around comfortably when watering, measure the length from the tap to the furthest point and then add a little bit on,’ says Love Your Garden’s Camilla Basset-Smith. ‘Don’t be tempted to go for a much longer hose than needed as this will add weight and can reduce pressure.’

Choose from expandable, retractable and manually-reeling hose pipes. ‘The most durable hose pipes are made of rubber or metal and they are less likely to deteriorate in the sun compared to plastic models,’ says Camilla Basset-Smith. ‘That said, you can also find good recycled plastic designs, and if looks are important you can even find hose pipes that come in pinks and purple finishes, as opposed to your standard black, yellow and green.’

If you don’t want your hose to kink, store it correctly as opposed to in a messy heap that encourages knots. Or invest in an auto reel to help it wind up neatly. ‘Store your hose in wide coils/loose circles or, if possible, in a long straight line,’ says Camilla, ‘and empty water from an un-used hose after use as any stagnant water will make the hose more rigid and encourage bacteria.’

There are many hoses now which are advertised as ‘anti-kink’ or anti-crush’. The more expensive the hose, generally the more layers in their construction material (mostly in vinyl, polyurethane and rubber with mesh layers of metal or nylon). The more layers, the more durable the hose. A braided hose where wire is woven along the tube provides very good resistance to kinking.

After a late-night watering session the last thing you want to be doing is faffing around trying to put your hose away, so choose a design that winds back easily. You can choose from expandable or an automatically retractable hoses and those that you need to wind up yourself. Also consider storage and if you’d simply prefer to wheel the hose pipe back into the shed on a cart, or have it neatly mounted on a wall.

If you don’t want to manually reel the hose pipe in yourself, an automatic reel will work well. ‘An automatic reel will pull the hose back via a spring mechanism and make for an easy watering life,’ says Camilla. ‘A wall mounted reel can be fitted and those that pivot make it easy to water as the hose can follow the direction you are working in. When using a manual reel which is wound by a hand crank, work slowly and surely, layering the pipe onto the reel as you wind and coil evenly.’

During a hose pipe ban reach for your watering can and water butt. ‘You can use ‘grey water’, such as bath or washing up water, which is a sustainable way of ensuring nothing goes to waste, but don’t use these on edible crops,’ says Camilla. ‘Move potted plants or baskets into shade to reduce the rate at which they lose water and use benches or parasols to shade borders where possible. If away on holiday, you can leave pots in trays of water so that they can soak up what they need as the days go by. You can also choose certain lining materials for hanging baskets that retain water.’

‘One of my favourite plants, which not only thrives in dry conditions but flowers from May until October, is the Mexican fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus),’ says Camilla. ‘Delicate white daisies with a hint of pink congregate en masse and spread easily, looking stunning along a wall, in pavement cracks or in your borders or pots.’

View the latest B&Q and Amazon deals

Best overall Best value Best retractable garden hose reel Best expandable garden hose Best hose for small gardens Best overall, 9 out of 10 We like:We don’t like:Best value, 9/10 We like: We don’t likeBest retractable garden hose reel, 9/10 We like:We don’t like:Best expandable hose, 8/10We like:We don’t like:Best hose for small gardens, 8/10We like:We don’t like: Best freestanding retractable hose, 9/10We like: We don’t like:Best eco-friendly hose 8/10 We like:We don’t like: yBest manually-winding hose, 8/10 We like:We don’t like:Best lightweight hose 8/10 We like: We don’t like: Best hose for small patios and gardensWe like: We don’t like: Best looking hose, 9/10We likeWe don’t likeBest portable hose, 7/10We likeWe don’t like