A hose is a hose, right? Well not exactly since there are several different types on the market and more ways than one to wind them up. What you want is the best garden hose, and that's what we have here. Oh-oooh, we're half way there, oh-oh! Living on a sprayer! Sorry. 

Length is usually the buyer’s main concern. If you have a very small patio with a few scattered flowerpots, then consider a length of around five metres. But if you have a substantial lawn to water then go for one in excess of 20 metres. Obviously, the longer the hose the more hassle it will be to roll it up and store it. Unless, of course, you invest in an automatic hose box feeder – something we wholeheartedly recommend – which winds the hose up on its own, leaving you more time to enjoy spring bank holiday japes.

For a popular alternative to a bogstandard rubber- and PVC-based hosepipe, try one of the new range of expandable hoses. These models look like a shedded snake skin when empty of water but turn on the pressure and they expand up to three times their length and then shrink back to normal once the water pressure is off. These are great options for those who haven’t got the space to store a normal hose or anyone who can’t be arsed with winding up a mile of hosepipe.

For outright convenience, our top hose pick is the 30m Gardena Hose Box which bolts to your wall and allows you to use as much or as little hose as you need. When finished, simply give it a tug and it’s all rolled up again in a thrice. The Karcher Auto Reel is an excellent, albeit more expensive, alternative. If you’re after the expanding variety then check out our number two spot, the tactile and ultra lightweight YoYo Self Extending Hosepipe.

Whichever hose you opt for, rest assured that your watering days will be a zillion times easier that carting around a heavy, inefficient watering can. Now go forth: you've got to spray, just to make it today. As MC Hammer once said.

If you have a large garden and require a hose up to 30m long, you won’t find a better package than this snazzy new hose box from the house of Gardena (a subsidiary of Husqvarna). Automatic hose feeders are de rigueur for anyone who uses a hose on a regular basis, whether it’s for hand-held or automatic sprinkling, washing the car or giving the driveway or patio a whizz. They all work in much the same way. 

To use, simply pull the hose to your required length and when you stop, a mechanism locks it in position (the whole unit swivels 180˚ depending on the direction you’re using it). When finished, pull the hose out a few inches and the mechanism releases it. If you let go of the hose in unlocked mode, it’ll scuttle off on its own and wind itself up in readiness for the next time. However, we would advise holding on to the hose and walking back with it or it will drag along whatever spray nozzle is fitted to the end and possible damage it. The hose may also become snagged on outdoor furniture and plant pots while making its way home.

This heavyweight 30m model is easy to fit against an outside wall though you will need to site it within close proximity of an outdoor tap as the inlet hose is about 1.5 metres in length. The Gardena’s mechanism is superbly slick and so easy to engage and disengage, while the quality and suppleness of the classy-looking 13mm hose itself should ensure an extremely long life with almost zero chance of it ever being punctured. The cheap twist spray nozzle it comes with can be considered a small bonus.

Gardena has some of the most dependable and best looking garden products on the market. Fit this keenly-priced model to your outside wall and your hosing life will be totally transformed.

For a rubber hose that stretches to around 30 metres, this Italian-made model is almost miraculously light. The YoYo doesn’t expand a massive amount but it’s a doddle to use and it doesn’t pull back nearly as much as its fabric-coated competitors when under pressure.

Without getting too fetishistic, this bright red hose has a wondrously soft rubbery texture that feels great in the hand. Its lightness when empty is a massive bonus when it comes time to wrap it up and this reviewer experienced no tangles or twisting when using it.

The YoYo also comes with a brilliant, lightweight plastic spray gun with a multitude of spray formations, including a slim water pistol-type jet that would be perfect for long range water fights between tackling the out-of-reach rhododendrons at the bottom of the garden. The YoYo is also fitted with an Aquastop fitting that shuts off the water when you remove the spray gun.

Rather like the Hozelock Superhoze reviewed below, when you shut off the water at the tap and squeeze the hose gun trigger to purge remaining water from the hose, the spray carries on at full pelt for a few seconds before slowly becoming a dribble. Once empty, simply roll it up and store it away.

If you’re after an efficient hose for your garden, yard, driveway or boat that isn’t a faff to roll up – and you love the feel of soft, grippy rubber – then stop right here.

Fancy a cool-looking alternative to the Gardena Hose Box to position on the outside wall of your Grand Design abode? This one comes with 20 metres of high quality black-and-yellow banded hose that looks a bit like a striped garter snake slithering across the lawn. Yeek!

The Karcher works in exactly the same way as the Gardena – the box itself swivels 180˚ so you can use it from any angle – though the mechanism inside is of a slightly different design. As with the Gardena (indeed all automatic hose boxes), to use it you simply tug on the hose and ease off slowly so it locks into position. To retract it, just pull the hose out a few inches until the mechanism releases it before it slowly drags the hose back into its housing. Simple, effective and smart.

This expandable 15m hose is extremely light and easy to store – its inner latex tube expands up to three times its length when water pressure is on. However, because the water pressure produces a constant backwards tug towards the direction of the tap when water is being dispensed, it’s not the best type of hose to use with a lightweight oscillating sprinkler since it will just drag it along the lawn for several feet. Filling a paddling pool is a no-go for the same reason unless you have a way of securing the hose end. But it’s perfect for hand-held spraying and a boon for boaters with little space on deck.

Like the admittedly better YoYo hose reviewed above, when you turn off the tap and hold the spray gun in the open position, the water continues to spray at full pelt for about 10 seconds before gradually subsiding. After about 20 seconds the whole hose shrinks back to its original form for easy storage. The Superhoze comes with a cheap twist nozzle and is ideal for smaller gardens, boats and anyone who hates winding up hoses manually. It’s pretty tough, too, though yellow does seem a questionable colour to choose given that its nylon sheath will get filthy and unsightly after the very first use. But, hey dude, it’s only a bloody hose – get over it.

Hoses don’t come more bog-standard than this compact model but we’ve included it because a) it’s cheap, b) it’s just 10m in length and perfect for titchy gardens and patios and c) it comes with a spray gun.

Granted, the spray gun provided here is of the cheaper twist control variety but, hey, it does the job well enough. Nevertheless, for a more varied range of spraying and squirting options, we’d recommend purchasing the excellent Verve Green & Grey spray gun, which we just so happen to have reviewed over here.

The Verve hose itself is narrower than the majority (7.9mm vs 13mm) so it produces more than enough pressure to blast a neighbour up to two plots away. And because it’s made from tough braided PVC, chances are it’ll never spring a leak. Mind, the windup cradle it comes supplied with is a bit of a pain in the butt and it doesn’t help that the hose itself isn’t especially bendy.

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