Do you have a large garden or yard? If so, you’ve probably felt the pain of having to lug a long, unwieldy garden hose around corners or shrubs.
Even if you don’t have a large outdoor area, trying to coil that uncooperative hose into some semblance of neatness is hard work.
You can’t stop watering your plants, so are you doomed to this struggle forever?
A hose reel offers a convenient and effective alternative, and there are sizes and styles to fit every yard or garden.
In this article, you’ll learn the details of the 10 best hose reel choices. We’ll cover them in 3 main categories:
- Wall mounted (including the best retractable garden hose reels)
- Wheeled carts
After going over the ins and outs of each model, we’ll also share some shopping tips to streamline your search.
Let’s dive in!
PS: If you’re in the market for a new hose to go along with your hose reel, check out this post of our 10 favorite garden hoses!
Best Freestanding Hose Reels
1. Ames Never-Leak Freestanding Garden Hose Reel
Easily mistaken for a piece of outdoor furniture, this hose reel hides your hose away in style while also offering reliable functionality.
The box-like design and 4 points of contact with the ground provide excellent stability as your roll your hose in.
The handle is large enough to grasp easily, and it spins freely to prevent your hand from getting sore or chafing.
Thanks to a hose guide hole on the reel’s front panel, your hose rolls back up in smooth layers with no twisting or cross-threading. A 3-foot, leak-resistant leader hose makes it a snap to hook your reel up to the water spigot.
The metal frame is strong and can withstand extreme temperatures, making it ideal for a variety of climates. But be aware that thin metal can be prone to dents or chipped paint, potentially resulting in rust spots.
Ames also offers an outstanding 5-year product warranty, so you can rest assured they’re confident in their product.
- Dimensions: 20 inches long, 24 inches wide, 21 inches tall
- Weight: 29 pounds
- Maximum hose length: 150 feet
- Material type: Metal frame with aluminum connection hardware
2. Yard Butler Free-Standing Hose Reel
If you have problems bending or kneeling, low-profile freestanding hose reels could present a challenge when it’s time to roll your hose up.
Even though this model isn’t much taller than some others, Yard Butler wisely situated the handle in a higher position.
For most people, this design should translate to less need to bend over while you reel your hose in. Your knees and back may thank you!
We also really like the fact the top portion of the reel rotates a full 360 degrees. This feature comes in very handy when you’re moving about and watering different parts of your garden.
The round base provides a stable foundation that won’t rock or tip over when you feed out more hose length. Also, the lightweight frame makes it easy to move your reel to another location if you want.
This reel is a fantastic choice for using on a patio, deck or other solid foundation. However, you’ll likely run into some tipping problems if you try to use the base on bumpy surfaces like grass or gravel.
The good news: If you prefer, you can skip the base and permanently mount this reel into the ground with concrete.
- Dimensions: 12-inch round base, 25 inches tall
- Weight: 13.2 pounds
- Maximum hose length: 200 feet
- Material type: Welded steel wire
3. Birdrock Home Freestanding Water Hose Reel
At first glance, it may seem that this Birdrock Home hose reel may qualify more as garden art than a functional piece of equipment.
In addition to the timeless black coloring and decorative pattern, the contrasting bronze fleur-de-lis accent further enhances the upscale and classic style.
Even though the intricate filigree pattern has a delicate appearance, don’t be fooled! This hose reel has a heavy, cast aluminum frame that offers remarkable performance and strength.
Weighing in at over 35 pounds, you won’t have to deal with any wobbling or shaking as you reel your hose. The handle has a comfortable, rotating grip that won’t cause chafing or irritation.
This reel also comes with a 5-foot leader hose, and the brass fittings prevent leaks and resist corrosion or rust.
One potential drawback is the price. Owing to the heavy material, sophisticated design and solid construction, this hose reel is an expensive investment.
- Dimensions: 20.5 inches long, 25.5 inches wide and 23 inches tall
- Weight: 33.5 pounds
- Maximum hose length: 150 feet
- Material type: Cast aluminum with weather-resistant finish and brass fittings
Best Wall Mounted Hose Reels
4. Ames Never-Leak Wall Mount Reel
Packed with helpful features and boasting an affordable price point, it’s not hard to see why the Ames Never-Leak wall hose reel is a fan favorite.
Not your standard plastic, Ames used heavy-duty material that offers 8 times more strength and durability than other plastic hose reels. And if you still have lingering worries about a non-metallic reel, Ames offers a 5-year warranty.
A 3-foot leader hose makes for an easy attachment to your water source, and no-leak aluminum fittings prevent you from accidentally cross-threading your connections.
The sliding hose guide helps ensure that your hose rolls up evenly instead of bunching up in one area, and your hose feeds out smoothly even when you’re across the yard.
Your hose reel arrives fully assembled, and the mounting process involves installing just four screws.
Although polyethylene plastic is a strong material, it lacks the long-term durability of metal, and connection points may crack over time.
- Dimensions: 23 inches deep, 18 inches wide and 17 inches tall
- Weight: 8.4 pounds
- Maximum hose length: 225 feet
- Material type: Polyethylene plastic with aluminum fittings
5. Liberty Garden Navigator Multi-Direction Hose Reel
With a cool, industrial look, this hose reel is vaguely reminiscent of an old-school fire station. Despite its old-fashioned look, though, this hose reel offers all the conveniences modern gardeners need.
One of our favorite features is the 360-degree swivel. The reel itself is suspended from the frame with a strong arm and solid brass pin. Since brass is rust- and corrosion-resistant, your pin should stay in good working order for the long haul.
Maybe you want to set your reel in a certain position instead of a free pivot. No problem! A pull-up knob on the top of the arm lets you lock your reel in one of 8 positions.
The large reel spins easily, and when teamed up with the smooth pivot, feeding more hose from your reel is a breeze. When it comes to reeling your hose back in, the spinning handgrip makes your task easy and comfortable.
A small wire basket keeps garden essentials within easy reach. The reel comes fully assembled, and you’ll only need to install 3 screws to mount your reel to the wall.
However, the mounting screws are not included, so you’ll need to make a separate purchase.
- Dimensions: 18.6 inches deep, 20.3 inches wide and 22 inches tall
- Weight: 15 pounds
- Maximum hose length: 125 feet
- Material type: Steel frame with powder coat finish, brass fittings
6. Tacklife 5/8-Inch Retractable Hose Reel
Tacklife is known for their well-designed and high-quality home and automotive tools, and this hose reel is no exception!
Instead of relying on battery power, Tacklife uses a self-winding spring mechanism to retract the included 65-foot hose. A clever braking system in the reel prevents the hose from retracting too quickly.
As you feed your hose out, it auto-locks at 15, 35 and 50 feet, and you can also manually lock the hose to any length you like.
When you need to feed out more hose, just apply some gentle forward pressure. To activate the self-retraction, gently pull your hose and guide it back into the reel.
The reel housing rotates 180 degrees on the mounting plate, so you can direct your hose in any direction you need to without the worry of kinking or loss of pressure. Also, the strong outer shell resists damage from rust or the elements.
Even though this hose reel is durable enough to stand up to rain, wind and sun, you’ll need to store it in a sheltered area during the harsh winter months. Fortunately, a quick-release pin lets you easily remove the reel housing from the mounting plate, and a carrying handle makes transportation a snap.
As a final bonus, we really like that Tacklife included a useful 7-setting hose nozzle along with the reel.
The only downside we can point out is that the 65-foot hose is shorter than some other models offer.
- Dimensions: 20.47 inches deep, 11.81 inches wide and 18.11 tall
- Weight: 26 pounds
- Maximum hose length: 65 feet
- Material type: Polyethylene plastic shell, rubber PVC hose and brass fittings
7. Gardena Retractable Hose Reel
With hundreds of customer reviews behind it, this battery-powered Gardena model is a consistent choice for the best retractable garden hose reel.
A powerful battery retraction system truly makes for effortless watering. To activate the self-retraction, just touch a button on the reel housing and let the motor do its job.
The lithium-ion battery is fully rechargeable, so you don’t need to worry about costly or troublesome replacements. Your reel should perform about 70 retractions per charge, and a backlit screen lets you know the current charge level.
During your watering, the reel feeds the hose out smoothly and with just a bit of gentle pulling on your part. The hose auto-locks at frequent intervals to prevent any accidental retractions.
Installation is a simple process that involves mounting the bracket with four screws. The housing pivots 180 degrees to prevent kinks or jams, and the housing will even lay flat against your house.
When it’s time to bring your hose reel in for the winter, the lightweight materials and ergonomic handle make for a simple task. The housing easily lifts straight off the bracket, and the combination of an upper handle and a small ridge on the housing’s underside gives you a firm grip.
The reel comes with a 115-foot 1/2 inch hose with a signature Gardena nozzle. One gripe is that the hose only works with other Gardena nozzles and connection pieces, and no other brands are compatible.
- Dimensions: 27 inches deep, 11 inches wide and 22 inches tall
- Weight: 25 pounds
- Maximum hose length: 115 feet
- Material type: Alloy steel
Best Hose Reel Cart With Wheels
8. Suncast Hosemobile Garden Hose Caddy
For those who favor a 2-in-1, the Suncast Hosemobile offers you the mobility of a hose reel cart and the stability of a freestanding model.
When you want to use the Hosemobile as a stationary reel, the front support bar creates a stable base that won’t roll away while you’re busy watering the plants.
If you plan to move your hose reel to different areas, the easy-grab handle and rear 6-inch wheels make the task simple. And at just 12 pounds in weight, rolling your Hosemobile won’t cost you too much energy.
A specially-designed connection system is easy to set up and prevents leaks between the reel housing and your hose.
One concern is that the lightweight frame tends to rock or bounce a bit as you’re reeling your hose in. Suncast addressed this issue with a small step plate that extends off the front support bar. While effective, using the step plate does restrict your movement somewhat.
- Dimensions: 24.5 inches long, 24.5 inches wide and 24.5 inches tall
- Weight: 12 pounds
- Maximum hose length: 175 feet of 5/8 hoses
- Material type: Heavy-duty plastic
- Wheel/tire type and size: 6-inch molded plastic wheels
9. Livebest 4-Wheel Garden Hose Reel Cart
You’ve got to admit it: The brand name PayLessHere definitely draws your attention! The good news is that this hose reel has several nice features to offer in addition to an attractive price point.
Standing 42.9 inches, this is the tallest hose reel in this review group. We really like that the extra height makes it easy to pull your cart along without having to hunch over. A layer of grippy handlebar padding is another nice touch.
Four large, air-filled rubber tires make crossing almost any type of terrain a breeze. And the wire storage basket is a handy place to set your hose nozzles or other outdoor necessities.
You can store up to 300 feet of 5/8 inch hose on this reel and the heavy steel frame stays steady whether you’re feeding hose out or reeling it in.
The assembly process isn’t overly difficult, but you need to make sure you follow the correct order of steps. If you tighten down the frame hardware before fully assembling the drum, you’re likely to run into a headache.
- Dimensions: 37 inches long, 24 inches wide and 42.9 inches tall
- Weight: 41.25 pounds
- Maximum hose length: 300 feet
- Material type: Steel alloy with powder coat finish
- Wheel/tire type and size: 10-inch pneumatic rubber tires
10. Strongway Garden Hose Reel Cart
When you need a hose reel that’s at the top of the heavy-duty list, this model from Strongway Garden delivers.
There are a couple of features that really make this cart stand out.
The first is the impressive 400-foot hose capacity. If you’ve got a long way to trek around the yard or garden, this will come in handy.
The second is the pivoting front axles that allow for effortless steering, much the same as a traditional wagon. This can be especially helpful if you have to steer around corners or the edges of curving beds.
Strongway Garden made the tires from a no-flat material, and the large size easily rolls over bumps and ruts.
Surprisingly, this ultra-tough cart is narrower than many of the competitors. This shape doesn’t interfere with the reel’s maximum capacity, also helps make the cart more easily maneuverable.
Since the unit itself is quite heavy at almost 50 pounds, you’ll likely appreciate each of these features when you’re on the move.
- Dimensions: 35.5 inches long, 20 inches wide and 39 inches tall
- Weight: 49 pounds
- Maximum hose length: 400 feet
- Material type: Tubular steel frame with powder coat finish and brass fittings
- Wheel/tire type and size: 10-inch no-flat tires with metal rims
How Do Garden Hose Reels Work?
A garden hose reel serves 3 purposes:
- Keep your hose neatly wound up when not in use
- Make it easy to feed out hose length while watering
- Reduce the work of winding your hose back up afterward
Sounds great, but how does a garden hose reel work? Let’s find out, starting with the essential parts.
Parts of a Garden Hose Reel
We’ve looked at 3 broad categories of hose reels in the reviews above: freestanding, wall mounted and hose carts.
Regardless of type, all garden hose reels share a few of the same basic features:
- A drum
- A winding mechanism
- Metal fittings
- A connection point to your water source
- Guide feature
Here’s a breakdown of each component.
Drum. The drum refers to the round tube that the hose wraps around and the surrounding wheel.
Winding mechanism. This can be either a manual hand-crank or a self-retracting feature.
Metal fittings. There are the hardware pieces that attach your garden hose to the reel. Many reels have aluminum or brass fittings.
Both of these metals resist rust and typically don’t corrode when they come into contact with other metallic materials.
A connection to the water source. Referred to as a leader hose, this piece is connected to the reel drum on one end and has a spigot attachment on the other end.
Most leader hoses are between 3 and 6 feet long. The length determines where you can set up your garden hose reel relative to your water source.
Guide feature. One common problem with garden hose reels is the chance for your hose to get twisted or cross-threaded during the winding process.
This can lead to a headache when you’re in the middle of watering and you discover that you can’t feed any more hose out, necessitating a walk over to your reel to untangle the hose.
Some reels seek to overcome this annoyance with a hose guide feature. The guide is a small hole that the hose passes through on the way in and out, and it helps to ensure that your hose lies down flat and in even rows.
Not all garden hose reels offer a guide feature, so if it’s on your wish list, be sure to check if the specific model you want has it.
How to Choose the Best Hose Reel
Now that you’ve had a look at some of the best hose reels out there, which one might be right for you?
No one option is going to be the best fit for every gardener, and it really comes down to personal preference and your own yard/garden layout.
To help you sort through the options, let’s break it down by the particular benefits of each hose reel category.
Freestanding hose reels typically offer the functionality you need on the smallest scale.
You may prefer a freestanding hose reel if:
You have a small yard or garden. If your outdoor space is at a premium, a hose reel with a smaller footprint can help you free up as much space as possible.
Also, if you don’t have an extensive outdoor space to tend to, you likely don’t want to deal with a hose that’s longer than your needs call for. Freestanding reels typically have lower hose storage capacities and may be more manageable.
You like a decorative look. While there are a few exceptions, many wall mounted and cart-style hose reels are primarily built for performance.
On the other hand, several freestanding models incorporate aesthetic details along with their functional features.
The Birdrock Home and Ames Neverleak freestanding reels we looked at earlier provide perfect examples. Both of these options feature eye-catching design details and colors that can add an extra touch of style to your outdoor space.
Wall mounted hose reels offer a few unique advantages over freestanding or cart models, and they may be the ideal choice if:
You don’t want to deal with a hose reel on the ground. With your hose reel mounted on the wall, it will stay well out of the way of dirt or mud splatters. This helps keep your hose and your hands cleaner.
Attaching your reel to the wall also keeps your hose safely out of the way and can help prevent tripping.
You want a self-retracting option. Although there are a few freestanding models, the best retractable garden hose reel options tend to be wall mounted versions.
Retractable hose reels are a convenience for any gardener, but they can be especially helpful for seniors or people with a disability. In fact, we think it’s such a great fit that we included it in our post 15 Best Gardening Tools for Seniors.
You want zero bending or kneeling. If you suffer from back or knee pain, you may be tempted to skip reeling in your hose if it requires bending or kneeling.
Not to worry! One of the best aspects of wall mounted reel is that you can customize your reel’s height to your preference.
To mount your reel to the wall, you’ll have to install a bracket yourself (don’t worry- it’s usually a simple process that involves just a few screws.) This gives you complete control in placing your reel at a comfortable standing height.
Hose Reel Cart with Wheels
Usually the most heavy-duty options available, a hose reel cart with wheels makes it easy to transport long, heavy hoses.
If any of these points are true for you, a cart may be your best bet:
You need to accommodate a very long hose. Garden hose reel carts can typically hold at least 300 feet of standard 5/8 inch hoses. (For comparison, freestanding and wall mounted models typically hold somewhere between 150-200 feet.)
Some models, like the Strongway option we looked at earlier, can hold up to 400 feet of hose.
Hoses of this length are extremely heavy and hard to move. The addition of wheels to your hose reel cart is a lifesaver when it’s time to put your hose away for the winter.
You want the flexibility to use your hose with various water outlets. Wall mounted units are completely stationary, and most freestanding reels are too heavy and bulky to move from one location to another very often.
With easy-rolling wheels and steering handles, a hose reel cart comes out as the obvious choice if you want any significant degree of portability.
Watering your yard or garden may not be optional, but struggling to lug a heavy hose around totally is!
Ranging from simple designs to complex feature sets, there’s a hose reel out there to meet your budget, your needs and the space you have to work with.
So don’t make your outdoor work harder than it has to be. By taking advantage of the help of a garden hose reel, you can accomplish your tasks faster and enjoy the process more.
How about you? Have you tried more than one type of garden hose reel, and which one was your favorite? Do you have any other questions or suggestions to offer?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments!