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Let's talk garden hoses. Every home needs at least one, whether to water the lawn, wash the car, or run the Slip 'n Slide. There are a great many hoses of varying quality to choose from, so when you're shopping for a new one, here's what to consider:
Garden hoses are generally made of rubber, vinyl, or polyurethane. Vinyl hoses, the least expensive, are the lightest but have the shortest lifespan. Rubber hoses are more flexible and less susceptible to cuts and abrasions, but compared to other types, they're more expensive. Higher-quality hoses boast greater longevity, because they have a layer of reinforcement that lesser hoses lack.
Slideshow: 5 “No Kink” Hoses That Test True
THICKNESS, DIAMETER & LENGTH
Hoses are constructed of layers, their strength increasing with each additional layer (two-ply hoses are the least strong; six-ply hoses are the strongest). Thicker hoses tend to kink less frequently, ensuring there is a consistent flow of water during use. Hose diameters range in thickness from a half-inch to an inch, with residential-use hoses typically spanning five-eights of an inch. The most popular hoses measure between 50 and 100 feet, but you can find them as short as ten feet or as long as 250 feet. The longer the hose the heavier and more physically challenging it is to manage.
A hose connects to the water source by means of brass or plastic couplings, or fittings. Though resistant to weather and rust, brass couplings are heavier and can be difficult to tighten. Plastic couplings are easier to tighten, but they're more prone to cracking and may not last as long.
You can extend the life of your garden hose by treating it properly. Prevent buildup of mold or bacteria by draining water from the hose after each use. Never run hot water through, and avoid leaving pressure in the hose unnecessarily; doing either can cause the hose to leak or burst. If possible, store hoses in a garden shed, garage, or basement to prolong usefulness.
If you purchase the right hose for your needs and care for it properly, it will serve you well for many seasons.