In addition to watering outdoor plants and flowers, people often use a garden hose to wash their cars, rinse off patios and decks and attach to sprinklers for kids to play in during the summer. Garden hoses come in a variety of lengths, diameters and materials with an alternative for every consumer. Two such materials include rubber and polyurethane. By assessing the qualities of each, you can decide which garden hose will best fulfill your needs.
1. Material Facts
When comparing garden hoses, the material they're made of makes all the difference. Rubber hoses are made of either natural or synthetic rubber. Natural rubber is produced from the milky material called latex found inside the leaves of a rubber tree plant (Ficus elastica), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 to 12, while synthetic rubber is created from a mixture of petroleum and other materials. Polyurethane, on the other hand, is a type of lightweight plastic made from elastic polymers.
2. Size Matters
Rubber garden hoses typically come in standard lengths including 25, 50, 75 and 100 feet and diameters of 1/2, 3/4 and 5/8 inches with 5/8 inch being the most common. The thicker the hose, the larger the water output is per minute. Alternatively, polyurethane garden hoses come in diameters of 3/8 inches and lengths of 25 to 50 feet. While water output doesn't usually matter to the typical gardener, who isn't likely to blast plants with a strong stream of water, you may want a greater water output when washing automobiles or rinsing patios and patio furniture.
3. Strength and Stamina
When it comes to strength and stamina, rubber hoses are thicker and more durable than those made of polyurethane. With proper treatment, a rubber hose will usually outlast the thinner polyurethane model. Resistant to cracks, splits and puncture, rubber hoses are long lasting. Avoid leaving either type of hose in direct sunlight, which may cause the materials to degrade or heat the water inside the hose to the point where it causes interior damage.
4. Form and Flexibility
While rubber hoses are more heavy duty than polyurethane hoses, polyurethane is infinitely more flexible and lightweight. Polyurethane hoses are typically coiled into a spiral shape that alleviates that agony of trying to rewind a rubber hose that refuses to cooperate. After being stretched to capacity, polyurethane hoses typically spring back into shape, while rubber hoses may kink and twist. Rubber hoses can also be heavy, unwieldy, difficult to manage and take up more space than polyurethane models.
- Washington State University Extension: Tips for Buying a Garden Hose
- University of Arizona Cooperative Extension: Garden Hoses
- Lowe's: Garden Hose Buying Guide
- The Home Depot: Tips for Choosing the Best Garden Hose
- Popular Mechanics: PM's Guide to Garden Hoses
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Ficus Elastica
- Elmhurst College Virtual Chembook: Rubber Polymers
- Michigan State University Ask Science Theatre: Where Does Rubber Come From?
- Merriam-Webster: Polyurethane
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images