Written by Terry Smith

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UK’s best automatic garden hose reels TESTED on price and quality

This article was last updated on April 23rd, 2022 at 6:50 am

I’ve just moved to my new house last year and what an opportunity for me to test and bring you the new best automatic garden hose reel. I’m sorting a lawn from scratch – nothing fancy as I plan to do something with a structure on the area later this year or next, but an automatic garden hose reel is an absolute must if you want to keep the garden tidy whilst watering your grass seed every day. Naturally I am using it in conjunction with my favourite water sprinkler. I have to say it was extremely easy to setup and install – the components are so straight forward you don’t even need the instructions but there were a few pitfalls on testing and I came up with a much better idea than joining two GARDENA reels to save money this time. Here’s a look at my favourite automatic garden hose reel in action:

My personally tested HAUSHOF Hose Reel, Wall Mounted Retractable Garden Hose Reel

SERIOUSLY HANDY TIP FROM YEARS OF USING AND TESTING: You will need a drill and SDS bit the right size as well as a large slotted screw driver bit or preferably a hexagonal bit with an impact driver to send the anchors in. These are serious bolts that anchor these automatic garden hose reels to your wall – thank me later on that one be sure! When mine rocked up I was fuming I didn’t have the right kit all those years ago – lesson learned! 😀

I’m going to show you, how to fit one, how to use one, and what connections you may need – this is as a result of many years using them myself and I have a few decent tricks up my sleeve for you. But you still might be struggling to come to terms with what an automatic garden hose reel is – the next paragraph with a video demo should give you a clear guide as to the benefits of one and if you want even more detailed info (especially useful in terms of hose connectors and setup ideas). However, if you already know please just skip to my best automatic garden hose reel line up:

What is an automatic garden hose reel?

An automatic garden hose reel is the evolved version of your standard hose reel or garden hose. When compared a standard hose reel that needs to be manually retracted, these newer, better automatic garden hose reels retract ‘automatically’ saving you time and effort which results in a tidier garden, every time! And whilst expandable garden hoses offer some automation retracting to a degree, they are not used in the same way – you always have that pressure pulling you backward with an expanding hose as they work like a stretch rubber coming back to their normal size. An automatic garden hose reel works in Lehmans terms just like a simple tape measure on a coil.

Best automatic garden hose reels list below – personally tested:

Best automatic garden hose reel overall: HAUSHOF Hose Reel, Wall Mounted Retractable Garden Hose Reel [tested and proven see my review] Swivels, nicely, the break works great, the hose is decent quality, and comes with most fittings you need. Stunning bargain and so pleased I tested it.

Previous best when I initially wrote article a couple of years ago and still worth considering: Hozelock Auto Reel with 40m Hose – very well built, heavy duty and easily suitable in commercial setups.

Large automatic garden hose reel that’s heavy duty: GARDENA Wall-Mounted Hose Box 35 roll-up automatic: Swiveling hose reel best of the best: I used to own two of these in my old house it’s just a case of do you spend the money?

Budget pick: AmazonBasics Auto-Rewindable Wall-Mounted Reel with Hose, 35 m best value automatic garden hose reel

Worth considering:

KAER5 Kärcher Lose M-Box 218.0 Compact Reel CR 7.220 Automatic

VonHaus Hose Reel – 20M Auto Rewind Wall-Mounted Reel for Garden

When it comes automatic garden hose reels, you need to make sure you get a quality product that has been tried and tested, as buying an inferior one will cause you even more headaches than having a bog standard hose – I know, I’ve used loads of. these since I first wrote my article – I’ve had to remove one famous brand as it totally failed on me!

Automatic garden hose reel buyers guide

Not sure what to look for in a good automatic garden hose reel? 
Well, we are here to help with this short guide that’ll highlight a few things to keep an eye out for. From housing and casing issues, to broken winding mechanisms, to length, to hose quality, and even the connectors that are included I run through what you need to make this happen from start to finish. I even show you an install and what components are needed in my HAUSHOF review.

Housing / casing compared

One of the most important things is the quality of the housing of your hose reel like the GARDENA Wall-Mounted Hose Box 35 roll-up automatic: Swiveling hose reel which is really well built and designed to put up with a real beating from both weather and rough use alike. You want one to be able to protect the contents from weather conditions, particularly UV, which can damage your hose as well as the case itself not fading – from many years of personal testing and ownership I can tell you the Garden is good quality plastic. Here’s a look at the more budget HAUSHOF casing which looks right up to the job from the time I’ve had it:

HAUSHOF Hose Reel, Wall Mounted Retractable Garden Hose Reel – casing works great – rigid and strong

Hose length and your garden setup

Many of these products come in different sizes so be sure to get one that matches the size of your garden. It’s always nice to have a bit extra just in case you need it so in which case you go for the longest Hozelock Auto Reel with 40m Hose, but if 15 metres is sufficient, there’s really no point in shelling out a lot more money for a 30m hose that’ll you’ll never get to use in its entirety and you might as well go with the VonHaus Hose Reel – 20M Auto Rewind Wall-Mounted Reel for Garden or the AmazonBasics Auto-Rewindable Wall-Mounted Reel with Hose as they are cheaper. I happened to pick the 20m HAUSHOF and extended the hose off my garden shed to get to all points comfortably in my garden on a budget:

How I setup my HAUSHOF Wall Mounted Retractable Garden Hose Reel to save money – image courtesy of my security camera

Hose quality

The quality of the hoses that come with these reels can vary a lot, and opting for a budget model might end up being more of a pain in the backside than it’s worth if you have to deal with a sub-par hose that gets misshapen easily. This will no doubt cause it to get tangles and not reel back in properly, so you’re better paying a bit extra for something that’s going to last so this lends itself to the Hozelock Auto Reel with 40m Hose.

Winding mechanism

Some automatic wind mechanisms are sluggish and lose their power over time, don’t worry, that is why I have picked models that I know to be absolutely reliable and engage / disengage reliably, and don’t just randomly pull your hose back through your vegetable patch 😀

Connectors

There’s nothing more annoying than cheap, low quality connectors leaking everywhere as soon as you turn the water on. Most top models should have connectors that are sufficient but it is still something to check out before you buy. I always replace any plastic connections with better quality brass ones anyway, but this might seem like a hassle for some. – edit this – I have recently been using the cheaper hose connectors if I am honest as even with severe water pressure the advanced design seems to be far more water proof with no leaks:

Selecting the right hose connectors and setting up so there’s no leaks

Hose stoppers and hose guides

These are two features that can make your automatic garden hose reel function better so they are something to keep an eye out for.

A hose stopper will prevent the hose from being pulled all the way into the casing, which can be a major pain. They are often shaped like a ball that the hose runs through but there are other designs. 
Hose guides are there to help the hose reel in and out smoothly and to wind around the reel without getting tangled up. Of course this is very important if you don’t want to spend half your day trying to sort out a mangled mess of hose inside a box.

Automatic hose reels and a game changer for pressure washers in the garden and home

I take advantage of my rig. I hookup my cordless pressure washer but I can tell you there’s plenty of flow rate to a point that you can use heavier equipment. An electric pressure washer, or even a petrol pressure washer would have absolutely no problem with flow rate. At the same time delicate work with a garden sprinkler as I tested is absolutely fine too. You can blast down patios and conservatories in minutes. Then popping the reel back requires little more than a tug on the hose and everything goes away without hassle. But the biggest advantage is selecting how much hose you need. Leave the rest in the reel and you won’t find yourself tripping up over yourself or dragging your pressure washer over hosepipe trying to get around anymore. In short, an automatic garden hose reel is the new must have for gardens

My garden used to look a lot like the picture below. A tangled mess of hosepipe where the kids have pulled it out and played with it. Not anymore thanks to automatic hose reels 🙂

So I have tested, chosen, and reviewed and compared the best automatic garden hose reels for you that are available to buy in the UK:

The HAUSHOF Wall Mounted Retractable Garden Hose Reel is my absolute top pick. Why? It’s a bargain, well built, the reel retracts beautifully (I have tested other models and prefer this when compared), the pivot is smooth and never snags, and install was a breeze. I have to say things have moved on a long way since I bought my Gardena’s and the main winner is the customer at the price point. Let’s take a look at this – I decided to mount it on my shed but they provide the right anchors for brick walls as well:

HAUSHOF wall anchor set seriously robust

Let’s talk about the bolts – you need a 10mm SDS bit if you’re going to install into a wall – remember the bit linked is for an SDS drill – you need a smooth shaft if you’re going to use a cordless drill. The screws are anchors with hexagonal heads – these are 13mm hexagonal bits which is vitally important to know! They are have a posi drive PZ1 screw option but these are far too large for that.

Now I made a blunder when installing into my shed. Because it’s wood I didn’t bother piloting (obviously I didn’t need the wall plugs either) but the result was I split my wood. Four word descriptions were in full flow:

I split the wood on my shed when installing this automatic garden hose reel with my impact driver.

So lesson learned. Next time pilot with a 3mm standard wood bit – you could use 4mm but I preferred a really tight fit.

Let’s talk about the plastic mount itself. I was a little concerned it felt flimsy – I was doing up the bolt with my impact driver and I was being careful not to go too hard and smash the plastic – I was completely wrong. The plastic mount could be pushed hard, I even dented the timber with the edge of the plastic mount frame so it’s very solid – this is probably the most important component when you compare these against other models – this is the easiest thing to fail, be it fall off the wall or break. I can tell you with 100% honesty from testing I am super happy with this unit:

Wall mount is very sturdy and I am very happy with it

One last thing on the install – obviously I am screwing into the frame of the shed on all four bolts – if you go into wood it needs to be solid and thick. I insulated my shed and reinforced all the corners with 4 by 4 so ideal.

So then I setup the additional hose from the tap to the shed mount. I needed an additional pack of hoselock fitting set – I used the ones linked. I actually bought this because of the sprayer thinking the one supplied with this unit would be naff, but actually it was as good as the hozelock when compared. Mountic the unit is so easy – just push the bar in once the unit is aligned in the holes:

Mounting is a doddle – just lift the unit into place and then place in the plastic bar as highlighted

In terms of using the pull and retract / gearing mechanism stood up just fine. a word of warning. Because this is new the spring is extremely powerful so hard to pull out – this will calm down and become easier over time – remember you don’t want it too easy as this is the mechanism that actually pulls the hose back in too!

If you’re not extending from the tap then it comes with everything you need, the sprinkler and the connector – just plug it onto your garden tap:

Connector that comes with the automatic garden hose reel

So to test it I pulled it over the garden about 15 metres – there was loads left and had a go with the garden sprinkler as an initial test:

Initial test was great with garden sprinkler

The flow was good, there were no leaks and the pivot worked great. I couldn’t be happier – an easy time watering the garden this Summer is coming up except one thing, the wife planted right where the pivot of the hose reel is going to get dragged. I’m sure as you read through my site one of two things will happen – the plants will be relocated, or my hose reel will be refitted to another convenient place! 😀 One top tip is to put a stake in front of your plants in case you drag the hose over something by accident, I did this with my Gardena – this time round I plan to be smarter and setup the garden to avoid this problem as much as possible. This is definitely a top buy, no question about it I am very happy with the testing and price point.

Specification: hose length: 40m, size: 54 x 65.5 x 26.2 cm, warranty: 1 year, child lock: yes, easily removed from wall mounting: yes

Hozelock are a trusted name when it comes down to garden watering tools and have top selling products in categories from hose nozzles and spray guns to connectors and various hose types. So, it should come as no surprise that their auto reel is also a best seller and our first review.

For this article we chose the 40m hose version but this products available in 10m, 20m, and 30m versions too, each one costing about £20 more than the size smaller than it.

When the Hozelock auto reel arrived I was a little surprised at how big the reel housing was, but I guess I should have expected it because it was the 40m version and I’d expect the other versions to be more compact.

The housing itself is nicely designed, with a modern, round aesthetic, coloured grey with the odd yellow part such as the front where the hose reels in and out of. It’s not the most striking thing I’ve ever seen, but personally, I liked the understated look.

The casing is made of polypropylene which is a strong and hardwearing plastic that is used in a large percentage of modern gardening tools due to its lightweight and durability.

To ensure the long working life of the hose inside, Hozelock have ensured that the casing for this automatic garden hose reel is UV protected, and also added a child lock so your kids can’t play ‘yank the hose to death’ when you’re not looking.

The Hozelock auto reel comes with the wall bracket and screws to attach it to your garden wall. The bracket seems fine to me, but with any of these products, I always prefer to invest in my own, higher quality fittings just to be on the safe side.

I would also change the standard plastic connectors for metal ones for the same reasons. Brass hose connectors are relatively inexpensive and are much more durable than plastic hose connectors, not matter how high quality the plastic is.

Once the reel is mounted onto the wall, it can pivot through a 180 degree arc. I found this particularly useful as my garden has a less than standard shape and I didn’t feel like I was stressing the hose into unnatural angles.

The main box is detachable from the bracket so that you can remove it and store it inside for winter to prevent unnecessary damage, yet it is also possible to padlock the box in place so that it doesn’t go walkabout during the summer evenings.

This automatic garden hose reel’s unwinding action is nice and smooth, and what I really liked about it is that it is not constantly pulling back and putting tension on the hose. The mechanism inside the housing automatically gives you more hose as you pull and then locks it in place. Then, when you want it to reel back in, you simply give the hose a little tug and the Hozelock auto reel will take care of the rest.

I have to say, I often find Hozelock products a bit hit and miss, or at least a little over rated, but this automatic garden hose reel impressed me. Yes, there was a little bit of water dripping out, but it wasn’t anything that would bother me too much, and even if it got worse, there is a 5 year guarantee that I could call upon.
 All in all, this is a good product worthy of consideration.

Hozelock Auto Reel with 40m Hose

3. AmazonBasics Auto-Rewindable Wall-Mounted Reel with Hose, 35 m

Specification: hose length: 35m, size: ‎53.1 x 48 x 26.9 cm, warranty: 1 year, child lock: yes, easily removed from wall mounting: yes

You can’t deny that Amazon has got the online shopping market all but tied up for the most part, so it should come as no surprise that they have started producing their own products to compete with the most popular brands. And since it was fist made this wall moluntedd garden hose reel has been getting better. The reviews also proove that too.

Amazon basics is their line of products that aim to offer the consumer a cheaper alternative to the top brands and models of certain items, and this is their offering in the automatic garden hose reel category.

While it has the word ‘basic’ in its name, this product is certainly not substandard by any stretch of the imagination. The reel’s casing and winding mechanism’s build quality is only second to the far more expensive Gardena model and it’s a close second at that.

Functions and features are what you’d expect from the best automatic garden hose reels. There is the pivoting through 180 degrees, a 35 metre long hose that should be enough for most gardens, brackets and fittings to mount it the wall, a carry handle, connectors, and adjustable spray nozzle.

The main function of auto reeling works really well and we had no bother with it getting tangled or stuck during our time testing it. Water output was also as good as the Hozelock and Von Haus.

The colour scheme might not be to everyone’s liking, and the housing itself is a little bulky, but no more than many of its competitors. The connectors that come with the product aren’t bad, however the one that connected to the tap on the model we tested did leak a little bit. It was an easy fix with a change of rubber washer though.

There isn’t a lot I can say about this automatic garden hose reel that I haven’t already said in our other reviews, and I think that sums up this product quite well. While it doesn’t blow my socks off with innovative features, and none of the products reviewed here do to be honest, it does tick all the boxes it needs to and offers you a quality product at a very good price. It is certainly not one to be overlooked.

AmazonBasics Auto-Rewindable Wall-Mounted Reel with Hose, 35 m

Specification: hose length: 20m, size: 41 x 40 x 20 cm, warranty: 2 years, child lock: yes, easily removed from wall mounting: yes

This Von Haus automatic garden hose reel is making a lot of customers very happy with the right combination of functionality, durability, and low price.
 When compared to the Hozelock auto reel of the same size (20 metres), the Von Haus is quite a bit cheaper, yet has all the same features and a build quality that is on par, if not superior to the Hozelock.

Design-wise, this automatic garden hose reel is very similar to Hozelock’s product. They both have a grey plastic housing and round shape, and they both fit onto a 180 degree pivoting wall bracket.

Again, the screws that come with the product are not something I would personally trust, so do yourself a favour and go spend 20p on some better ones. They’re readily available from any DIY shop.

The anti-kink hose itself actually feels good quality and didn’t give me any immediate cause for concern over its durability. I also like the fact that Vonhaus had placed an extra design feature into the hole where the hose feeds in and out that guides it and keeps it reeling and unreeling in a uniform manner.

The connectors provided with this automatic garden hose reel are plastic but good quality and I didn’t have any leaks. I would still suggest changing them though, as I would with any plastic hose connectors because in my experience, they simply don’t last and if you use a booster pump to up your pressure then they really won’t last five minutes.

As for the actually automatic reeling mechanism, I have no complaints. It works in much the same way as the Hozelock, and will automatically lock into place when you stop pulling but will retract with a sharp tug. The whole thing is very smooth, if a little stiff pulling out at first, and I had absolutely no problems with it the whole time I was testing it, so well done Von Haus.

This product comes with a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty, but from my initial impressions, it should last you longer than that without any major issues. Most of the problems you get with these types of products can be solved with a few fitting/connector change, so if you do have leaks, try replacing these first before considering replacing the whole product as it will undoubtedly save you time and hassle in the long run.

The Von Haus automatic garden hose reel is a quality product at a very reasonable price. With proper use and a little care, you should get years of good use of it.

Specification: hose length: 35m, size: 68.6 x 27.9 x 55.9 cm, warranty: 5 years, child lock: yes, easily removed from wall mounting: yes

Gardena is almost synonymous with premium quality, but for premium quality you also have to pay a premium price. The 35m version of this product actually costs almost 3 times as much as the Von Haus automatic garden reel hose, but is it worth it?

Well, that is all a matter of opinion. Is the build quality of the Gardena better than our two previous products? My answer would be a definite yes. In fact, it is of the highest quality of any of the products reviewed on this page. Everything just feels solid and built to last, even down to the connectors and fittings, which are usually sub-par at best on most models, are of a good quality.

The auto-reeling mechanism on the Gardena is by far the smoothest we tested, however you have to make sure you pull it slowly and it does take a little strength to do so at first. When the garden hose retracts, it actually has quite a bit of pull which speaks volumes about the quality of the spring, and it almost caught me off guard the first time.

There is also an integrated hose guide, much like the Von Haus, that makes sure the hose reels in evenly and doesn’t get tangled.

Like both the Hozelock and Van Haus automatic garden hose reels, this one can pivot 180 degrees so you can reach the harder to get to parts of your garden, and it also has the same auto-locking mechanism (every 50cm or so) so the hose isn’t constantly trying to retract, making the whole situation less taxing and your arm muscles.

None of these products should ever be left out during winter as it is sure to ruin them, and so all decent models can be detached from the wall bracket for storage. This particular model has a very handy handle moulded into the top of casing which makes it much easier to carry around. I was thankful of this, because these automatic garden hose reels can be pretty bulky, and the common rounded design can make them a little awkward to handle. Not so with the Gardena and the handle, like the rest of the product, feels very sturdy and durable.

There is also an anti-drip device that you can insert when transporting the hose reel to stop it leaking and dripping. It’s only a small thing, but it is nice that Gardena thought about this annoying problem and offered up a solution.

At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. The Gardena is more expensive, but you get a higher quality product for the extra pounds you spend.

6. KAER5 Kärcher Lose M-Box 218.0 Compact Reel CR 7.220 Automatic

Specification: hose length: 20m, size: ‎26 x 22.75 x 7.2 cm, warranty: 1 year, child lock: yes, easily removed from wall mounting: yes

As you’ll remember I pointed out that I have a couple of GARDENA Wall-Mounted Hose Reels earlier on. This little offering from Karcher was the reason I decided to update this post. With pretty stiff ratings from customers, I can tell you that is no reflection of this automatic hose reel whatsoever. People are rating this based on value for money. Now fine, everyone wants a bargain. But personally, after using the spring mechanism on this hose reel I can tell you that it is the real deal and built to last. When my automatic reels inevitably fail, I am almost certainly going to switch up to Karcher unless something comes along in the next few years which I very much doubt.

How can you be this confident ahead of time you might ask? The answers pretty simple. The hose is practically bullet proof. The swivel mechanism feels and looks industrial. The automatic return system also feels bullet proof. If you’re like me and want a product to last, then I feel this is the one to watch. Granted, there is the upfront cost.

There’s no frills here, it’s simply an extremely well built product that will last a very long time. The wall mount is solid, the installation is pretty easy and the instructions make it a doddle. It comes with everything you need. No additional purchases are necessary. You have a spray gun and nozzle, hose connectors, and hose coupling connections. Check those links out. These items aren’t cheap and they are included. That sweetens things considerably. You can’t go wrong when you buy quality.

Conclusion

When I first wrote this article it was lockdown and the aim was to take advantage of water management in the garden. An automatic garden hose reel is the first step toward streamlining your efficiency and overall comfort in the garden. You wouldn’t believe how much these things have changed things for me. I have two GARDENA Wall-Mounted Hose Reels on a rig and I have not spent a single minute in the last couple of years arduously coiling hose pipe. It’s not just watering plants either, even things like cleaning, I hook this thing up to my cordless pressure washer. Life hasn’t ever been this comfortable in the garden. In fact, I decided to update this article today because they’ve progressed a fair bit with more selection than ever (which is great for us gardeners)!

The bottom line is: if you’ve got a garden, you need a garden hose, and that used to mean spending a fair bit of time taking it out of the shed or garage, untying it, reeling it out, and trying to get rid of all the kinks and twists before even starting. Then after you’ve finished, you have to go through it all again in reverse! Certainly not ideal.
 With modern innovations, there are some solutions available to the modern consumer, such as expanding hoses that can work pretty well if you pay for a good one and also have good water pressure at home.

Other than that, you could go with an automatic garden hose reel. These are hoses that are contained in box that you usually fix to your garden wall. They are designed to unreel smoothly without too much hassle, and to retract themselves when you’re finished with them.


About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message: info@gardentoolbox.co.uk

View all posts by Terry Smith

2 responses to “UK’s best automatic garden hose reels TESTED on price and quality”

  1. Hi Terry,
    Really excellent reviews thanks. I have a very weird question however and hope you may be able to help me.
    I cannot fix a retractable hose to the house due to listed building status so I am looking to buy a retractable hose but use it in reverse! I want to fix the hose to an outbuilding close to where we will need the water, ideally then, I will use the hose in reverse and extend the hose to attach to the stand pipe supply, and use a 5 metre pipe from the hose reel ‘in’ connection to wash the car, water the garden etc.
    Will this work do you know? DO any of the reviewed items or retractable hoses have non-return valves so a reverse flow is made impossible? Your advice would be appreciated.
    Thanks again for the review.

    • Hi Matthew,

      I have not doubt this will work – these aren’t sophisticated enough to have valves, certainly not the ones I’ve tested anyway. They are just a hose on a return spring, efficient, but not fancy. You can also extend the ‘hose in’ section easily if you want to, or setup another unit right next to it and connect them together. In my old house I connected two Gardena automatic hose reels together with great effect. That is definitely tried and tested!

      Regards
      Terry

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