Buying a new, high-quality garden hose puts a crimp on the garden budget; however, hoses typically take a beating from regular use and exposure to heat and cold, and even the best hoses wear out in time. You can often prolong the life of your hose by repairing cracks, splits and leaks.
Small cracks and leaks are easily repaired by wrapping the hose with hose repair tape. If you don't have hose repair tape on hand, electrical tape suffices for a temporary fix. Wash and dry the area around the leak first because tape won't adhere to a soiled or damp hose. Similarly, tape usually doesn't stick when temperatures are above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Start wrapping the hose about 1 inch from the leak, and continue to wrap to 1 inch on the other side of the leak. Overlap the tape as you wrap. Don't wrap the hose too tightly because it may crimp or stretch and won't remain in position.
A hose mender is generally required to fix leaks or cracks too big to repair with tape. To be sure you purchase the right mender, use a sharp knife to cut the damaged area and take the hose to a garden supply center or hardware store. Read the package carefully, as some products are made for specifically for vinyl or rubber hoses while others are general-purpose. Similarly, you can purchase couplings made of metal or sturdy plastic. The construction and application method also varies. Before attaching the mender, be sure the hose is clean and dry. If the mender doesn't slide into the hose easily, coat the area with a thin coating of liquid soap.
Washers typically deteriorate, becoming cracked and dry over time. A new washer is a quick, inexpensive fix for garden hoses leaking at the spigot. If you replace the washer and the hose still leaks, the hose may need a new hose end. Hose end kits include a clamp placed on the hose; and a barb, pushed into the hose. Once the barb is seated in the hose, you can tighten the clamp with a screwdriver. Lubricate a stubborn barb with a drop or liquid dish soap.
Routine maintenance keeps your garden hose in good condition, prolonging its life and preventing frequent repairs. Keep your garden hose out of direct sunlight and coil the hose after each use. If the hose kinks, reroll it to prevent cracks and splits. Drain water completely at the end of the season and store the hose in a shed or garage where the hose isn't exposed to harsh weather. One way to drain a hose is to drape it over your shoulder until the water runs through.