Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila
The bushes are pruned, the lawn is mowed, and the planting beds are weeded. The yard and garden look great—except for that pile of twisted garden hose. To put it in its place, consider a hose reel: a cylindrical spindle made of metal, fiberglass, or plastic on which to wind and neatly store a garden hose.
There are several types of garden hose reels available, and getting the right one can make the difference between a tidy yard or a disheveled one. Which reel is the right one? We researched dozens of models and selected the top-rated ones for hands-on testing in our own yards. We scrutinized ease of use, overall quality, hose capacity, and more. Below, learn what to look for when choosing a hose reel, and find out how the following models earned a spot in our lineup of the best hose reels.
- BEST OVERALL: Liberty Garden 712 Single Arm Navigator Hose Reel
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Yard Butler IHCWM-1 Deluxe Wall Mount Hose Hanger
- BEST WALL-MOUNTED: Liberty Garden 707 Wall Mount Hose Reel with Guide
- BEST YARD STAND: TomCare Freestanding Garden Hose Holder
- BEST DECORATIVE: BirdRock Home Decorative Water Hose Pot
- BEST DUAL-MOUNT: Liberty Garden 709 Dual-Mount Hose Reel
- BEST PORTABLE: Gorilla GRM-200G 200-Foot Mobile Hose Reel
- BEST CONCEALMENT: Giraffe Tools Heavy-Duty Metal Garden Hose Reel Box
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila
How We Tested the Best Hose Reels
We researched more than 35 top-rated hose reels in various categories, carefully evaluating their design, material, hose capacity, and other essential features. Our thorough analysis helped us narrow down the field to 10 top models that we wanted to put to the test. We opted for models made with durable materials such as steel and heavy-duty plastic, which are capable of withstanding long-term use. Our picks for testing included manual and automatic reels with hose guides, automatic retraction, and/or bracing to keep standard garden hoses in place.
After assembling the reels (where applicable), we installed the ones designed to be mounted, connected our garden hoses, and began our rigorous testing process. Our tests evaluated the stability of the hose reels and whether or not they held the advertised hose length. For reels with handles, we tested the smoothness of the turning mechanisms and noted any additional features, such as added spray nozzles, that enhanced their functionality. We employed a rubric to score the hose reels; those that performed better received more points.
After testing, we averaged the scores to determine the winners. However, not all the models we tested met our high standards. We’ve included them in the “Also Tested” section below so that you can read about their performance and find out why they didn’t make the cut.
Our Top Picks
The following hose reels stood out in our rigorous hands-on testing process for their stability, durability, and innovative features. With both mounted and freestanding options available in a range of styles and prices, there’s a perfect pick for every messy hose problem. Don’t let tangled hoses get in the way of your gardening game; grab one of our top hose reel picks today.
The Liberty Garden Single Arm Navigator hose reel is a durable, traditional-style mounted reel with solid steel construction and a weather-resistant coating. It can hold up to 125 feet of ⅝-inch hose and includes a 5-foot leader hose and a wire storage basket for additional nozzles and tools.
Right out of the box, the 712 impressed us with its quality. The reel comes mostly assembled, so we just had to attach the handle and mount the reel to our wall. The necessary hardware for installation is included. We installed the reel on a concrete wall, but if you’re attaching it to an exterior wall with lap siding, it’s best to mount it to a stud.
We had no issues attaching the leader hose to the outside of the reel—the easy-twist fitting connected snugly and sealed well, and there were no drips when we turned the water on. Attaching the garden hose to the inner-reel fitting was a bit more challenging, as the fitting is located near the inner reel and it was tough to get our fingers in to twist the fittings together.
We liked the pull-up handle on top, which allows for 360-degree rotation, and the reel can be locked into eight secure positions, which makes rolling up the hose a snap from any direction. This hose reel comes fully assembled; all we had to do was attach the handle. The Liberty Garden 712 is attractive and functional, and it will keep that long hose neatly stowed.
Read our full review: Liberty Garden 712 Single Arm Navigator Hose Reel
- Material: Steel
- Hose capacity: 125 feet of ⅝-inch hose
- Leader hose: Yes
- Weather-resistant coating prevents this reel from wearing down over time
- Leader hose included, and a built-in storage tray holds accessories
- Pull-up handle allows for 360-degree rotation for ease of use
- Reel can be locked into 8 height options so the hose does not fall off or move
- Spool may be too small for hoses that are thicker than ⅝ inch
- Large hands may find it challenging to connect hose to fitting on reel
- Some retailers may not provide the 5-foot leader hose
Get the Liberty Garden 712 hose reel at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Northern Tool + Equipment.
This reasonably priced hose hanger from Yard Butler holds up to 100 feet of ⅝-inch hose. Users can mount it at a regular height (3 to 5 feet above the ground) or a little higher, using big loops to hang a longer hose.
While it’s not much to look at compared with some of the other decorative hose reels we tested, the Yard Butler is a study in efficiency. We mounted it about 2 feet above the spigot on our exterior wall. It didn’t come with screws, so we used a couple of exterior stainless steel screws we had on hand. Make sure to locate a stud when mounting this or any hose reel to keep it from pulling off the wall when loaded with a heavy hose.
The 12-gauge steel, arch design, and added wall bracing prevent sagging, and the powder-coated finish is made to withstand the elements. This hose holder is as manual as it gets; we had to loop the hose onto the holder—one loop at a time—but the back wall sure looked a lot tidier than when the hose was lying twisted on the patio.
The hose hanger comes in a weathered verdigris finish in purple, green, or blue. And it also comes in a floral and spiral design to add a little style to the yard. The manufacturer claims the Yard Butler will hold a ⅝-inch hose up to 100 feet long. It will, but we had to make the hose loops longer to accommodate our 100-foot hose. If you’re looking for a pleasing circular hose pattern, this holder is better suited to a shorter 50-foot hose or a lightweight expandable hose.
- Material: Powder-coated steel
- Hose capacity: 100 feet of ⅝-inch hose
- Leader hose: No
- Versatile design that can be mounted anywhere on a wall, fence, and more
- Extra bracing on this patented design prevents disfiguration or sagging
- Comes in a verdigris green, purple, green, or blue finish to match many backyard styles
- No hose reel or leader hose built in; all rolling must be done manually
- No hanging hardware included, so installation may be tricky
Get the Yard Butler hose reel at Amazon.
This Liberty Garden wall-mount hose reel has an aluminum body with a durable powder coat finish for added rust resistance. If you’re looking for a decorative hose reel that mounts securely to an outside wall, the 707 might be just the ticket.
The hose reel came mostly assembled but we had to attach the handle—a simple step that required the use of an Allen wrench (included). We used exterior screws to mount the reel to the wall. It features mounting holes spaced 16 inches apart, which is the exact spacing of standard wall studs.
Connecting the leader hose to the outside fitting was a snap—connecting our garden hose to the reel fitting gave us fits, though, because there wasn’t much space (only a couple of inches) for our fingers to attach the hose to the fitting. This was also an issue with other reels, but the 707 was especially challenging due to its design—the upper tray and front guide arm further restricted finger space.
We attached our 125-foot heavy-duty hose, and the Liberty Garden reel supported the entire length without a problem. However, we felt that one of the unique features of this reel was a detriment.
The 707 features a hole guide through which users feed the end of the hose before attaching it to the reel fitting. As we turned the crank to wind up the hose, the hole guide moved back and forth along a bar. While the intention is to distribute the hose uniformly on the reel, we found it was more trouble than it was worth. The hose hung on the small hole unless we stretched it out perfectly straight before we started winding.
We felt that it would be less work to guide the hose with our hand as we wound it up, but this is a personal preference. We tested the reel using a heavy rubber hose; perhaps a nylon-coated hose wouldn’t hang during winding.
- Material: Powder-coated cast aluminum
- Hose capacity: 125 feet of ⅝-inch hose
- Leader hose: Yes
- 5-foot leader hose adds to user-friendliness and convenience
- Large hand crank makes it easy to pull the hose in after use
- Top tray built in for hose nozzles and other accessories
- Decorative and stylish way to store garden hoses and eliminate mess
- Mounting hardware is not included with purchase; may be tricky for first-time buyers
- Attaching hose to inner reel fitting can be challenging due to restricted space
- Users may need to stretch out the hose straight before winding it
Get the Liberty Garden 707 hose reel at Amazon, Wayfair, or Target.
The TomCare metal garden-hose holder proves that tidying up hose clutter doesn’t mean permanently installing a reel on the wall. This portable hose-holder option makes sense for renters, and we feel it’s also a good choice for gardeners who want to move it from spot to spot as necessary to hold hoses.
The hose stand came in two parts: upper hose holder and spiked stand. The fasteners and a little wrench were included for attaching the parts. Once it was assembled, we found the TomCare stand to be very sturdy, but the key to holding heavy hoses lies in the soil. If the soil is firm, it will better support the stand when it’s loaded down with a hose.
We tested the TomCare holder in several spots in the garden. When we inserted it in loamy soil, it leaned under the weight of a 50-foot rubber hose and eventually toppled. When we inserted the stand in the lawn next to the garden (clay-based soil), it didn’t move at all when we wound the hose around the holder. So the best spot to put this holder will be in stable soil.
- Material: Rust-resistant metal
- Hose capacity: Unlisted; less than 50-foot rubber hose (tested)
- Leader hose: No
- Freestanding design—no need to drill holes in a wall or mount it
- Portable design allows the user to move it around as needed
- Heavy-duty spikes help secure the hose holder firmly in ground
- Has a tendency to tip if used with a heavy hose or located in loose soil
Get the TomCare hose reel at Amazon.
This water-hose holder from BirdRock Home provides a charming way to store a garden hose so that it’s out of the way, orderly, and untangled. The copper finish on this hose pot is so realistic we had to scrutinize it to determine that it was made from steel—not copper. This hose pot is all about portability and looks—the copper color complements many outdoor settings, and there’s nothing to install or mount.
The BirdRock pot comes with a center pole that makes it simple to wind the hose by hand. The manufacturer says the center pole is removable to give the user more room to store gardening accessories, but we found it was essential for keeping the hose in place and from tangling.
The pot has a hole and a removable rubber stopper at the bottom to feed the hose to the spigot. We liked this feature—it kept us from digging around in the pot to find the end of the hose to connect to the spigot. The hole does double duty as a drain hole to keep the pot from filling with rainwater. The BirdRock pot is advertised as holding hoses up to 100 feet long. We could only store ⅝-inch hoses up to 75 feet long, but perhaps a longer but thinner hose would fit.
- Material: Steel (copper-look)
- Hose capacity: Up to 75 feet of ⅝-inch thick hose (as tested)
- Leader hose: No
- The attractive copper finish complements many outdoor settings or styles
- Lightweight and sturdy construction—can be transported wherever needed in the backyard
- Drainage hole allows for any condensation or excess water to drain and also provides hose access
- Not as ergonomic as comparable options; hose must be spooled manually
Get the BirdRock hose reel at Amazon, The Home Depot, Wayfair, or Target.
The third Liberty Garden hose reel to earn a spot in our lineup—the 709—was one of our favorites for its versatile design. This model can be mounted on an exterior wall, concrete patio, or wood deck.
The 709 doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles. It does just one thing—holds garden hoses—but it does that very well. To make it suitable for dual mounting, Liberty doesn’t include an accessory basket or a guide bar, so it works in a horizontal or vertical position without anything getting in the way of winding up the hose. One thing Liberty does include are four rubber stoppers on the reel’s bottom corners. We liked this little touch because the stoppers fit snugly against the mounted surface and eliminated wobbling when we wound the hose.
The reel easily held our 125-foot hose, and we might have been able to get an even longer hose on. However, some sites describe the reel as holding a 200-foot hose, but we don’t think that’s likely.
The only problem we noted with the 709 was that the washer that should have been inside the leader hose fitting was missing. Therefore the first time we turned the water on, it sprayed forcefully out of the fitting. We purchased an extra washer, slipped it into the fitting, and solved the spraying problem. Still, if we had to choose just one hose reel for our specific yard situation, we’d choose the 709 due to its top-notch functionality and versatile mounting ability.
- Material: Powder-coated steel
- Hose capacity: 125 feet of ⅝-inch hose (tested)
- Leader hose: Yes
- The hose reel easily holds 125 feet of standard garden hose and might hold a bit more
- Dual-mounting capability makes this reel versatile for a variety of yard scenarios
- Rubber stoppers on the base help snug the reel to the mounted surface and reduce wobbling
- Leader hose fitting on the reel came without the washer necessary to prevent leaks
Get the Liberty 709 hose reel at Amazon or The Home Depot (stainless steel).
Portability means a lot when it comes to watering extensive gardens or lawns. So for one of the best portable options available, check out the Gorilla 200-foot mobile hose reel. We found the upright handle on this model was comfortable to grasp, and the 7-inch solid flat-free wheels moved almost effortlessly over concrete and turfgrass. The reel was slightly more challenging to maneuver when we pulled it over sand, but that’s unlikely to be a consideration for most buyers.
The Gorilla hose reel cart has a high-strength anodized aluminum frame, a high-impact blow- molded reel, stainless steel hardware, and a cast-aluminum crank for heavy-duty use. As advertised, 200 feet of ⅝-inch garden hose could be rolled on the reel. The hose we used was heavy-duty rubber, so the Gorilla was fully loaded when the hose was on. We estimated the hose (actually two hoses connected) added about 35 pounds to the reel. We could still pull it over concrete and turfgrass with no problem.
The crank handle turns smoothly, but we would have preferred a larger crank so it required less turning to reel in long hoses. This reel features a passive guide hole in the front that keeps the hose in the correct position during winding. This is a nice feature, and we could move it back or forth as needed to wind the hose uniformly. We also liked the extra room our fingers had to attach the garden hose to the reel outlet—much appreciated.
The only other downside we noted—and it can’t be helped because this is a portable model—is that the reel would move or shift when we were winding up a heavy hose. On the plus side, it comes with an under-reel tray we found handy for stowing nozzles and other gardening accessories. Overall, this is an excellent choice for anyone who wants a sturdy hose reel they can move to different locations.
- Material: Anodized aluminum frame, stainless steel hardware
- Hose capacity: 200 feet
- Leader hose: Yes
- 7-inch never-flat wheels and comfortable handle allow for easy maneuvering while in use
- Heavy-duty construction: anodized aluminum frame, blow-molded reel, and stainless steel fittings
- Easy assembly; all parts are included along with great instructions and the wrench necessary to assemble
- Hand crank is a little small; it may take more work to reel in the hose
Get the Gorilla hose reel at The Home Depot or Amazon.
For those who don’t want a hose marring the appearance of their yard, Giraffe’s ornamental hose-reel box offers an attractive solution. Its robust metal housing has a rust-resistant coating and aluminum connections for durability. This reel box has a beautiful bronze tone that complements many backyard styles.
The Giraffe reel box came mostly assembled; we only had to connect the handle, which was simple. Connecting the garden hose fitting inside the box was a little tricky since there was limited finger room, and the box shaded the reel, making it challenging to see what we were doing. Once it was connected, we could reel in the hose quickly—the crank handle is large and turns smoothly.
The manufacturer claims the Giraffe box reel will hold a ⅝-inch hose that’s 150 feet long. We were able to get an entire 150 feet of hose wound in the box, but the last 15 feet or so were slow going, and we had to open the box and rearrange the hose inside to get it all to fit. We’d use a 125-foot hose or shorter for the best functionality.
This is a very nice hose-reel box, and when the hose is completely wound and the top doors are closed, there’s no indication that a hose is inside. It doesn’t roll, however, so you’ll have to carry it if you want to move it.
- Material: Rust-resistant metal and aluminum
- Hose capacity: Up to 150 feet of ⅝-inch hose
- Leader hose: Yes
- Heavy-duty construction: metal housing, a rust-resistant coating, and aluminum connections
- Carrying handles are built in for portability; can be carried anywhere in the yard
- Easily assembled crank handle and a hose guide allow for ease of use
- May be cumbersome to carry this model around since there are no wheels built in
Get the Giraffe Tools hose reel box at Amazon or Giraffe Tools.
Liberty Garden 301 Decorative Two-Wheel Hose Cart
Giraffe Tools ⅝-Inch 65-Foot Retractable Hose Reel
Not all of the hose reels we tested met our high standards and earned a spot in our lineup. Two of the models came with unforeseen issues that bumped them out of contention early on.
The Liberty Garden 301 two-wheel hose reel is a beautiful representation of a portable model that might have made the lineup—if only the axle needed to attach the wheels had been included. Unfortunately, the axle didn’t make it into the box.
We contacted the manufacturer, hoping they’d send a replacement, but we didn’t hear back. We also purchased ⅜-inch all-thread to see if we could make a simple axle substitute in order to test the other aspects of the reel. That didn’t work, and without the wheels, the reel wasn’t stable or portable. We had to eliminate it from our tests.
The second model that didn’t make the grade this time around was the Giraffe Tools 65-foot retractable hose reel. This model came with its own hose pre-attached inside a sealed unit. The hose itself was nylon reinforced and quite nice, but the retraction device inside the unit didn’t work.
We followed the manufacturer’s directions and pulled the hose out a short distance and then gave it a small tug to activate the rectraction. Nothing. We pulled it a little more and tried again. Still nothing. We kept trying until we’d pulled out the entire hose, but the retraction device inside never worked. The manufacturer explicitly states not to open the case, so that ended the testing of this model.
What to Consider When Choosing a Hose Reel
Various factors go into choosing the best garden hose reel. Some of those considerations are the size of the yard and the length and diameter of the hose. You can also consider the ability to manually crank the hose and any additional features you might want, such as a shelf or tray to store some gardening tools.
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila
The primary consideration for a hose reel is the length of the hose. To determine the right length, measure from the spigot to the areas where you’ll be watering. A 200-foot hose on a reel with a 150-foot capacity will result in the excess spilling off, preventing the reel from winding properly, or both.
To ensure that the hose length and reel capacity are suitably matched, check packaging information on both if buying new, or measure the existing hose. The most common-size garden hoses are ⅝ inch in diameter.
Many garden-hose reels include a leader hose to attach the hose reel to the spigot, typically 5 to 6 feet long. No matter the diameter of the hose, most standard garden hoses can serve as leader hoses because the fittings are compatible despite the actual hose diameter.
The proper leader hose length depends on where the hose will be stored and its proximity to the water source. If the hose reel comes with a 6-foot leader and users are installing it 4 feet from the spigot, the leader hose will be long enough.
Portable vs. Stationary
Hose reels can be attached to a permanent location, such as the side of a house, or on wheels or stakes for portability. To decide what will work best, consider the size of the landscape. Is it a fairly large area or a patch of grass and a smattering of bushes planted close to the foundation?
Users with big yards may benefit from the mobility of a wheeled hose-reel cart. Hoses are heavy, and lugging one around is hard work; hose reel carts make the job easier. A garden-hose stand that users can relocate around the yard might be ideal for a medium-size yard.
Alternatively, smaller backyards where the hose easily reaches everything in need of water should be well served with a wall-mounted unit like a hose hanger or a storage box that remains in place.
Manual vs. Automatic
How much work the user is willing to put into winding that hose is another factor. Manual hose reels have a crank that users turn by hand to wind the hose. Automatic models have a button on the side of the reel that, when pressed, winds the hose. They’re usually powered by lithium-ion batteries.
Longer hoses can be troublesome for automatic reels, which may have difficulty winding the entire length of the hose. Automatic hose reels are more convenient, though priced higher than basic manual models.
Closed vs. Open Storage
Folks who prefer to stow the garden hose out of sight will want to opt for a closed (hideaway) storage hose reel. With these, the hose is enclosed in a container that houses the reel; a lid on top provides access to the hose.
In addition to concealment, closed storage protects the hose from the elements, which can increase its longevity. The alternative is an open-storage reel, where the hose is exposed and visible but still tidy and contained on the reel.
The most common hose reels are generally made of plastic, fiberglass, aluminum, steel, or resin.
- Plastic hose reels are lightweight compared to the different metals, making them a good pick for portability and ideal for residential use. But they are not as durable as a metal reel. For those looking for variety in color, plastic hose reels come in different colors.
- Fiberglass reels are also lightweight and make a good choice for at-home use.
- Aluminum reels are lighter than steel but heavier than plastic and fiberglass. Aluminum makes a good metal choice when shoppers are looking for something resistant to rust. Additionally, aluminum reels can accommodate longer hoses than plastic reels are able to. They make a good selection for heavy-duty jobs in any weather.
- Steel reels are less expensive than aluminum, albeit heavier to pick up. These reels are also rust-resistant and can hold longer hoses than plastic reels. For example, users can find a Liberty hose reel that can house a hose up to 300 feet long.
- Resin hose reels are strong and durable and they won’t rust. They are also lightweight. Most hideaway reels are made of resin and protect a hose over a long period. Resin hose reels will weaken over time in the sunlight, but they last longer than many other materials.
Though they’re generally simple devices, hose reels may come with a few bells and whistles.
- Some wall-mounted hose reels include a convenient storage bin for small, frequently used garden tools such as additional hose nozzles, gloves, and hand cultivators. Bins are preferable to baskets, since exposure to the elements is likely to shorten the lifespan of these tools.
- Stationary hose reels may feature a swivel base that allows for multidirectional movement. Swiveling saves users from having to adjust the direction of the hose as it unwinds when pulled in different directions. The unit stays in place but spins as it changes direction.
- Garden hose reels may also include a hose guide that prevents kinking when winding and unwinding—a nice option since hoses have a tendency to bunch up, particularly while being wound. Bunching prevents the reel from turning.
For more information about the best hose reel, check out these answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Q. How do I choose a hose reel?
When choosing a garden hose reel, consider the length and diameter of the hose you want to connect to ensure compatibility. The size of your yard will help you choose between portable and stationary. If you have a large yard, you may want to find the best hose-reel cart.
Then there is the decision regarding your willingness to manually reel, the material you want, how much you want to spend, and any additional features you may wish to have.
Q. Are brass hose fittings better than plastic?
Brass hose fittings are more durable than plastic fittings; they are more robust and will last longer in the event of rain or inclement weather. While plastic may be suitable for some fittings, this material tends to break easily, especially when hoses are attached with high tension. Though brass is more expensive than plastic, it is definitely worthwhile to buy brass over plastic.
Q. Which type of hose reel material lasts the longest?
Brass, aluminum, and stainless steel hose reels last longer than those on the market that are made of other materials. These materials are made to withstand moisture and heavy-duty use, making them perfect for outdoor use. If maintained, these options are also rust-resistant and will not wear over time. Plus, these metals are strong enough to withstand frequent use.
Q. What kind of hose reel is best for small yards?
One that’s sizable enough to hold a hose long enough to reach all areas of the yard. Most small hose reels will hold hoses 50 to 75 feet long.
Q. Where do you mount a hose reel?
Users mount a garden hose reel close to a water spout, preferably on a wall or a fence. Consider the best height for the hand crank to make it easy to turn. Additionally, the installer inserts the screws into wall studs for the best stability.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
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Meet the Tester
Glenda Taylor is a product tester and writer specializing in the construction, remodeling, and real estate industries. She and her husband own a general contracting company, and Taylor is experienced in both residential and commercial building applications. She tests a wide range of power tools as well as other home improvement, household, and lawn-and-garden products.
Additional research provided by Heather Blackmore and Tiffany Lewis.