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When it comes to gardening, and you're in a medium to large home one of the worst aspects of getting your garden to grow with fresh water is getting the water to the garden without constant extension hoses. One of the aspects that my parents had when they first bought their home was a 50 metre auto release hose that came with the house, and which it could travel around the whole perimeter with excess cabling and a beauty to the design was the integral reel winder that had already been bolted to the garage wall. This was a new function to them particularly as they had bought the house in the 1950's. Over the years though, our reliable green ribbed garden hose began to fray and bend before eventually snapping and the question of a compact hose from a reel came as a saviour in the form of a Hozelock 20 metre garden hose - a product purchased as far back as 1995 and from QVC at a cost price of a rather hefty (back then) £35.00 The current product by Hozelock is the same product but now costs a much better value of £20 to £25. It comes pre-assembled with the only additional assembly being connection taps fitted, of which you already get in the box.
The beauty of this product is that it matches a lot of the design input that Hozelock have already put into a lot of their other ranges, and although not the most expensive by price, the 20-metre hose box is second in line from the starter product packages you can buy in terms of a hose being completely built into a easy to swivel release hose box - a fact that I didn't know about until I discovered Hozelock's UK website, whereupon there are dozens of different types from auto release hoses to ones like this; a manual release hose. Starter manual reel boxes start at 15 metres and finish up at 25 metres in this type of design - squarish thick bright green PVC box with an opening where a thick yellow PVC and metal/flexible rubber mix hose can be found and where Hozelock's excellent universal push to lock & release two way water dispersal tap is already fitted. In the box from new, there are 4 different connectors; a threaded tap connector for garden taps to screw onto, 2 garden hose connectors and a water stop connector A dispersal connector is already fitted to the end of the hose that allows you to use the hose for a variety of different spray methods from a mist, spray or direct jet. Even if the water pressure that feeds from the external tap in your home may have a low water pressure - the connecters are easy to fit thanks to the quick push in push out turnable dial on the taps themselves and to the side of the extension box you'll find a handy snub that allows one connector to store when not in use.
One of the aspects that I like about Hozelock is the general fit and finish of their 20m-extension hose box. The hose is very easy to release simply by pulling on the outer end that sits outside the entrance hole located at the side of the box and the hose releases very quickly and smoothly due to its sheathed design - although the outer yellow coloured rubber is speckled so that it lends a grippy texture, the hose doesn't pick up much waste when it is made to travel along the ground - a much better advantage than our old ribbed hose that collected everything in its path and would often soil the owner quite literally come the time to rewind back in. The Hozelock hose seldom kinks too, so the effort of pulling the hose out of the box is also easy to do even though the weight distribution between hose that you pull and the hose on board means that the box may well fall over when all the hose is released. Our hose has stuck around corners, abruptly sharpened by rough concrete - but the hose still looks as good as new and has never been pierced throughout its life. Another beauty of this hose is that you don't need to release all of it to get the water flowing!
The only other "joy" you have is at the end of use, whereupon a roller knob on a circular "vented" pattern on the reel part has to be used to manually roll the cable back in, similar to the kind of hand wrenching exercise you'd face if you own a Henry vacuum cleaner! On the other side of the box you'll find three partitions where excess hose can be locked in, if the hose is not used for long periods. There may also be an optional wall carrier for this type of extension box hose where the partitions slide into the corresponding carrier, but there was nothing to suggest this in the paper manual that came with the hose, originally. The downside here is that the reel is quite heavy to rewind back in and you do need a strong hand to do this since the whole construction is built around PVC plastic and the total weight of the box including the hose is around 4kg, which is quite heavy by itself, even if by size it is identical to the kinds of manual reel holders that mains power extension cords mirror. However, since the yellow hose is void of overly textured markings that would get stuck between branches or shrubs, the hose simply rewinds in without ever getting tangled. I may have only tangled the hose once in the many years we have had this product and that was down to my fault!
In use the hose is very easy to use and in low water pressure areas, the dispersal tap with its variable twist action doesn't do a bad job of putting out water regardless of whether you choose the spray, mist or direct jet function. Of course the latter function is always going to be poor when you have a low water pressure and similar to a shower head function, even though the function is available, the direct jet can only maybe stretch to half a metre -which is fine and all you need if you only have a small to medium garden that needs watering and can't get near thorny bushes if shrubs or flowers are mixed in, that need a good feed. The grippy texture of the hose means that whilst it is slightly grainy to the touch, the bright yellow colour means the hose can be easily seen through green bushes if the phone goes and you need to stop intermittently whilst the connector on the end simply twists to release the water or to stop it. The connector end gives a good array of spray to jet like functions. In more recent years however due to the low water pressure that our street gets in general, I've used the Hozelock hose box in conjunction with my Karcher pressure washer and the two of them work extremely well together, especially as the dispersal tap that push-unlocks from the dispersal tap can be locked straight to the Karcher pressure washer whilst the tap is stored on board where it can't get lost. Having fitted another external tap to the other side of the house means I no longer need such a long garden hose, but the 20 metres on offer is long enough to get around and an absolute boon when washing down cars or windows.
There are a couple of downsides but they seem to reveal themselves "over the years," rather than in the short term. For a start the actual box and hose eventually starts to separate from each other from years of abuse and if the box itself continually falls over when the hose is in use, the round reel part can start to appear wonky making the hose hard to reel in. The box is held together by quite a few crosshead screws, which may justify its tough robustness. The 360° turnable knob that acts as a "rotational" grip applied cord rewind is fairly light upon action and is easy to do when rewinding the hose back in. Big tip though - if you wear gardening gloves, the whole action of winding so much hose back in is so much more comfortable and easier on the hand than bare skin alone! However, the central hose can slip out of the central reel sometimes from the extension box. This is a simple fault to fix if the hose inside is still intact and connected to the central hose connection, since the integral reel if it falls out, can simply be pushed back in so that both ends meet cleanly and usually a loud click can be heard when the two lock back in. Another downside I find is that the dispersal tap is poorly made. With its tapering edge, the tap can crack if it is has been dropped down on paving stone. Extra protection like a couple of rubber rings that act as bumpers could be added here. The tap is also quite slippery in use even though it has a logical hand print design to where you would stop your hand holding it as the water comes out. We already had to pay out £8-95 for a replacement dispersal tap after the first one cracked. At least the dispersal tap was available due to Hozelock being quite a popular brand.
It is sad to report that after 16 years of reliable service our 20metre Hozelock box has met its end. The box finally snapped off last week following a short stint of pressure washing and the hose connection inside has cracked on one side of the lock. That however doesn't detract me from considering another Hozelock reel extension garden hose again. It is a super design, very compact and easy to transport thanks to its flush shape & smooth hose; the dispersal tap does a good job, the hose is very well protected and the fact that it is all in one means it is a reliable unit that should be considered if only for use with washing the outside of your home, or used in conjunction with a pressure washer. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2011