Garden hoses have come a long way since 400 B.C., when people used ox gut to spray their roses—now there are rubber, vinyl, and rubber-vinyl hoses. The best hose, naturally, is the well-cared-for hose. Never drag a hose by an attached nozzle or it will leak where hose and nozzle meet. Unravel hoses completely before turning on the water to slow deterioration and reduce kinking. Above all, protect them from the sun. For more about hoses, read "Tale of the Tube."
1. Dramm Colorstorm: Available in a rainbow of colors. (5/8" diam., 50 feet, $60; sears.com)
2. Teknor Apex Green Thumb: A vinyl-rubber hose is drinking water-safe, a good choice for vegetable gardens. (9/16" diam., 50 feet, $29; amazon.com)
3. Flexon: A light-duty hose, ideal for smaller gardens. (5/8" diam., 50 feet, $20; amazon.com)
4. Gilmour Flexogen: A heavy-duty rubber hose made for industrial cleaning. (5/8" diam., 50 feet, $26; sears.com)
5. GatorHyde Coil: Synthetic hose that's perfect for balcony gardens. (3/8" diam., 50 feet, $40; charleysgreenhouse.com)