What we're referring to here is, of course, your common garden hose. If you live in some parts of the Southern U.S. (notably Louisiana) or Great Britain you may know it as a hose pipe. Whatever you call it, it performs a specific function. It moves water from a faucet to another location, provided that location is not much farther than the amount of hose you have connected to the faucet and provided you don't have a kink in your hose. To fully appreciate the importance of this function, one has only to carry the amount of water needed by a modest garden or lawn in a bucket. All hail the hose!

When you shop for a hose the labeling is sometimes confusing. The label "kink resistant" is, from my experience, basically meaningless. "Guaranteed kink free" may be an indication that the product will at least be kink resistant and the descriptives "economy" or "general purpose" translate to "cheap".

I will give you some tips that, if followed, will allow you to use even a cheap garden hose for years.

First let me say that these are methods that have worked well for me for many years so it is my hope that they will work for others as well.

Hose has a memory!

Once a garden hose has had a kink in it it will keep trying to kink in that exact place. Its persistence to do so will be in direct proportion to the length of time it was left kinked. So how do we keep it from getting kinked in the first place? If you can leave the hose stretched out on the lawn during watering season, do so. I once took over a lawn care business and the previous owners, when telling me where existing contracts were, described one customer as that "bitchy old woman, Mrs. Brown". It turned out that the whole reason Mrs. Brown was bitchy was that the lawn jockeys wouldn't comply with her only request. Mrs. Brown wanted the garden hose on her lawn moved carefully from one side of her lawn to the other to mow where it had lain, then moved just as carefully onto the mowed part to mow the other half. Mrs. Brown was, without question, my best customer. This method works well, but if you don't want to look at the hose all summer, here's how to roll it up without kinks. Besides, you will have to coil it up sometime, right?

Drain all the water out of the hose as you coil it. If you are on a slope, it helps considerably to start coiling at the uphill end of the hose. Coiling on concrete or clean grass will help keep the hose clean and you are welcome to use a rag to remove grass clippings, mud or whatever as you coil it. Pull the uncoiled part of the hose towards you and lay it in loops on the ground but raise the hose as you coil it to drain the water out the other end. If you are observant, you will notice the entire uncoiled part of the hose wants to roll over with each loop you make (and we want it to, that prevents kinks!). This is why it is easier to work with shorter lengths of hose and couple them together if more length is needed. If the weather is cold it is easier to coil a garden hose after the sun has been on it long enough to warm the hose some. If you need to leave a hose out during freezing weather, disconnect both ends from any valves or faucets (both ends wide open) make sure it is stretched out without kinks (gentle curves are fine) and walk along the hose lifting it about chest high as you go, creating a "slow wave" traveling the entire length of the hose. Again, if there is slope, start at the uphill end. If you forget to drain a hose and the water in it freezes, wait until the sun warms it some, then try to run water through it (even a trickle will help). Once you get a solid stream of water through it, follow the above "wave" method to drain it.

Now we need to store or transport our hose kink free. Laying flat is best if there is space. If you are hauling multiple hoses lay the coiled hoses in the bed or trailer overlapped if possible. This makes it much easier to keep the lengths from getting tangled together, especially if they are the same color! The same goes for storage. If you must hang a hose up, use a curved hanger that supports the inner curve of the coil. I have seen an old wheel used for a hose hanger and that works well. A hook or any type of straight hanger will kink and ruin the hose.

Finally, there are hose reels on the market that make most of the above pretty much unnecessary. Don't buy the plastic ones, they are too light and flimsy and will soon end up in the trash. The one I use is a cart made with welded metal pipe and I have used it for years. I bought mine on clearance and paid around $50 (US).

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