If you’re one of those gardeners who just leave hoses sprawled out across the garden for weeks at a time in summer, only to trip over next time you need to rush out, then it’s probably time to think about automatic retractable hose reels.
We’ve had a look at some of the best selling hose reels, and worked our way through reviews, but first, I want to share some thoughts that will help you find the right hose length so you don’t find yourself lost and confused next time you’re searching for a new hose reel.
Best Retractable Hose Reel for 2022
What is a Retractable Hose Reel?
I’m an advocate of cutting down on mains water use. It’s a more affordable way to garden, and better for the environment, but in seasons of extreme drought, every garden needs a hose even if you’re connecting to a water butt.
Retractable hose reels are a great way to keep your garden tidy, save space, and protect the life of your hose, whether you’re buying a reel with a hose included, or buying a reel to use with your existing hose.
By utilising some basic spring mechanisms, retractable hose reels safely guide your hose back into its housing with next to no effort, unlike traditional garden hose reel, which needs manually winding.
When you buy a retractable hose reel, the hose pipe supplied with the reel is usually more resistant to kinking too, which prevents it catching as you wind it back in.
Do I Need a Retractable Hose Reel?
Wall mounted hose reels are super useful ways to keep your hose tidy, but manually winding hoses back on themselves every time you use them takes time and effort and, if you’re at all clumsy like I am, scraped knuckles as you wind against the wall.
The spring wound reels that have become popular in recent years save your hands from scraping on the wall but most importantly, by saving time, mean you’re much more likely to wind your hose back in at the end of an afternoon in the garden.
I’ve lost count of how often I’ve tripped on a hose because I’m too lazy to wind it back up. It’s hard to justify the effort when you’ve been gardening for five hours and know you’ll be back out to water tomatoes in the morning, but the ease of retractable hose reels takes the excuse of sheer laziness away.
How to Use a Retractable Hose Reel
To use your retractable hose reel, you simply pull it out of the housing as far as you need to, and then start watering. On most hoses there will be a coloured strip at the end of the hose to show when you’re nearing the end of its length.
It’s important not to exceed the maximum length of the hose as it will damage the mechanism. When you want to return the hose to the reel, gently pull and release and the spring mechanism will do the rest of the work.
With almost all models of retractable hose, it’s important to pull your garden hose out level with the hose reel to reduce friction, but we’ve had one for a few years now and they do hold up to some particularly lazy use.
Best Retractable Hose Reel Reviews
Plantcraft is a budget version of the Hoselink model, but for a relatively unknown garden brand I was pleasantly surprised with this retractable hose reel.
It comes with durable brass fittings, and a brilliant hose gun with adjustable pressure. The gun is fairly basic, but well made, so don’t expect it to do everything, but it will last forever if properly cared for.
The return on the hose is really smooth too, so for almost half the price of other automatic retractable shoes it’s a great buy.
I really like this Holman hose reel. Usually they make much more expensive reels, but for under $100 you can get a really high quality hose from a trusted brand.
Ok, so it's only 20m, but I’m willing to forgive that for how smooth the hose return is, and because the hose itself and the parts feel so durable.
I’d happily buy one of these next time I need to replace it, and because it’s from Bunnings, retractable hose reels are covered by their returns policy.
I really like Hozelock, so I’ll try to rein in my enthusiasm for the brand a bit here. The only thing I don’t like about this retractable hose reel is the price, at almost double the price of other 25m hose reels.
The hose is super durable, and the retracting reel seems really well made so I’d be surprised if it ever got caught or tangled.
Hozelock also makes anti-kink hoses as standard, so the hose itself shouldn’t snag on itself or cause blockages by folding in on itself, which is a big plus.
If you’re happy paying a little extra, this is the best retractable hose reel we’ve seen.
Aqua Systems is a brilliant budget hose manufacturer, but budget hoses come with risks of weak pipes, especially if you’ve got high pressure on your mains water.
This is one of the cheapest hose reels on review here, and it actually scores pretty highly on most of our criteria, but it loses out on durability.
Other than the hose itself though, this is a great hose reel with decent safety features to stop you catching your hands in the automatic reel.
I can’t really compare the Ozito hose with the others because it serves a completely different purpose. Anyone who knows Ozito knows they make amazing power tools, and this is right up that same avenue. Rather than a water hose, this Ozito retractable hose is for compressed air.
It’s pressure capabilities are great, and it’s a must have for any gardener with a ride-on mower - especially if you find yourself needing to fill the tires regularly on uneven ground.
Hoselink are a specialist hose maker based in Australia, so their hoses are UV resistant, extra tough, and generally built to hold up to the weather conditions here far better than any other brand.
This retractable hose reel comes with a really well built hose gun with multiple pressure settings and nine spray patterns, but what I like most of all is the smooth return on the retractable hose that feels massively safer than anything else we’ve reviewed.
Greenfingers are better at making hand tools than hoses, and while I really like them as a brand this retractable hose reel feels like a bit of let down, with flimsy parts and connectors that could easily break as they are reeled back in by the spring return mechanism.
It’s safe and does the job, but for the price I’d expect a better quality hose pipe, and better fittings.
Pope makes incredible hoses, and incredible fittings but their budget range is actually quite good too. I’m used to their professional kits and pope irrigation systems more than domestic hose reels, but I was pleasantly surprised by this budget option from bunnings.
The only thing letting it down is the 20m hose, which for most gardeners, isn’t going to reach the far corners of the garden.
The hose gun supplied with this retractable hose reel from EneAcro feels a bit cheap but it’s actually surprisingly sturdy and has nine spray settings and adjustable pressure.
The hose gun attaches onto prefitted brass hose connectors for added durability and swilles really smoothly when you’re working with it.
I was surprised with the price for this hose from a lesser known brand, but it’s a really good retractable hose reel, and the hose itself seems pretty puncture resistant too.
The only reason I’ve downgraded the score on this hose is its price. For a relatively short hose to cost almost three times as much as similar hoses from other great brands feels extortionate.
Before I discovered its price I rated it as a 5* retractable hose, and it was the best retractable hose reel in this list.
It’s by far the most durable hose in our reviews, and the reel casing itself is really well built, with a really smooth nozzle included in the purchase too, but unless you’re really not bothered about how much you're spending, there are definitely cheaper hoses that will do the same job.
Our Top Picks - Best Retractable Hose Reel
Best Retractable Hose Reel for 2022
I know it’s not the wisest thing to do to pick my favourite retractable hose reel based on its nozzle, but I love this hose’s attachments.
Plantcraft 30M Retractable Garden Hose Reel's hose connectors are really sturdy and hold up to high pressure, with a hose that’s resistant to cuts (and wildlife), and a retractable hose reel that pulls back with amazing fluidity so I’d never be worried about injuring myself or catching my hand in the reel.
Best Value Retractable Hose Reel
There’s no beating the Holman 20m Retractable Hose Reel for price. Not if you want to trust the hose you’ve bought. Holman has always made great garden tools and watering gear, but they’re never usually this affordable. I can’t stress enough how good a deal this is.
It’s the shortest retractable hose we’ve reviewed here, other than the Ozito retractable air hose, but it makes up for it with really well built attachments, and a strong hose pipe that will stand up to impact and general damage over time.
Premium Choice Retractable Hose Reel
If you’re going to invest in a hose, invest in a brand you can trust. I’m also pretty impressed with the price of the Hozelock Auto Reel with Hose too.
Even though it’s only 25m, it’s really well built and will stand up to the summer sun if you forget to reel it in. Its wall mount is great too, with 180 degrees rotation to give you a few extra inches of pull when you reach its limits.
Retractable Hose Reel FAQs
How do retractable hose reels work?
Retractable garden hoses work in the same way as a standard tape measure. Their springs are loose when the hose is wound up, and when it’s pulled out the spring locks in place until it’s pulled and the mechanism is released.
This simple mechanism makes them incredibly long lasting as there are very few breakable parts.
Can you use a pressure washer with a retractable hose?
Yes, you can use a pressure washer with a retractable hose. Retractable hoses are often confused with expandable hoses, and while it’s possible to use high pressure water tools with expandable hoses their cheaper pipes can buckle and blister with the pressure. Retractable hoses are made from sturdier pipes.
For more garden watering tools, check out buying guide and reviews below:
Get the Best Retractable Hose Reel For Your Garden
Retractable garden hoses are a useful tool, but cost at least twice the price of standard hose reels, so they are a luxury purchase for gardeners who want to tidy up their outdoor spaces and save time, rather than a necessity for cost cutting gardeners.
If you’re concerned about safety in the garden a retractable hose reel is definitely a sensible purchase, and I’ve become particularly reliant on ours over the last couple of years.