Comparing an automatic garden hose reel with a standard hose reel for ease of use

Comparing an automatic garden hose reel with a standard hose reel for ease of use

I would be shocked if you told me, you’d never owned a garden hose, and be twice as shocked if you told me that you’d never felt the frustration that comes from having to spend ages getting all the kinks and twists out of that hose, and the ‘joy’ of struggling to pack it all away again.

We’ve all been through it, and it usually doesn’t take long before we are searching for a decent hose reel to help ease those frustrations, and make watering the garden the hassle-free, relaxing task that it should be.

Finding a good hose reel these days is not difficult, the internet and garden centres are full of top-notch products to choose from, and competition has lowered the prices to very affordable levels, for the most part.

The problem you still have, however, is to decide on what type of reel to spend your hard-earned pennies on. Do you go for an automatic hose reel, also known as a retractable reel, or do you opt for one of the manually operated types?
In this article, we will let you know about all the different choices available to you, and compare them to help you pick the right kind for your needs.

It seems these people have already made up their minds though-

Why should I use a garden hose?

Leaving garden hoses lying around is a bad idea for a number of reasons. Firstly, they are a safety hazard, and anyone could accidentally trip over and hurt themselves. On top of that, there is the fact that a properly stored hose, whether that is on a reel or simply hung in the shed, will usually last longer than one that has been left on the floor. This is because there is less chance of it being stood on, chewed by animals, and also developing kinks.

How do automatic hose reels compare with standard ones?

If you’re going for a more modern look and feel in your garden, the stylish plastic cases that house automatic hose reels are a better choice than traditional-looking ones. They are also great space savers as they are wall-mounted, and as most can be rotated through 180 degrees, it is possible to lay them quite flat against the wall.

Automatic hose reels are constantly trying to retract but you can stop this by giving the hose a sharp tug once you reach the required distance, locking it in place, something that you just can’t do with an expandable hose. This can take some getting used to, and some brands work better than others, but if you get a good one, it is easy to get the hang of.

From my own experience, I would say that retractable hose reels do tend to get jammed up in the casing quite often when compared to a standard wall-mounted hose reel, but this all depends on the particular model, as some are much better than others. If the hose does get jammed, you might have to open up the reel’s casing and have a look inside.

I would say that when automatic hose reels work as they should, they are great time savers and a joy to use. On the other hand, if you get a model that isn’t the best, it might cause you a lot of frustration. Luckily for you, we have an article on the best automatic hose reels reviewed right here on this very website, so be sure to check it out.

This short video shows someone installing an automatic hose reel in their garden, and also using it-

Standard hose reel types

Just to be clear, when I’m talking about types of standard hose reels, I’m referring to the fact that they don’t automatically retract like automatic ones. There are quite a few different varieties available though, so I thought I’d highlight them here.

Garden hose box

These products come in many different sizes and designs of their own, but most modern ones are quite compact and have handles to make them easy to move around. Garden hose boxes are similar in appearance to most automatic hose reels, but require the user to turn the winch handle to reel the hose in and out. The cases that house the hose reel come in handy for protecting the hose, but like automatic models, it can be hard to see when the hose is getting tangled up inside.

Wall-mounted hose reel

A very common type in the UK, standard hose reels are simple and require you to do most of the work, either by turning a handle or sometimes just reeling and wrapping the hose around the reel by hand. Traditionally, these were open designs, which I personally prefer, as you can keep an eye out for any kinks or twists in the hose as you go, but most modern versions are enclosed in a box or similar. This means that if things get jammed up, you’ll have to take it apart to fix it. Just make sure you know how to put it back together 😂

Wall-mounted hose reels, like automatic hose reels, are fixed in position, and so they give you less freedom of movement when compared to some other types. Still, most modern reels come with a long hose that should get you into the tightest corners of most gardens. People with large properties might find them coming up short though.

Mobile hose reel

If there is a fair old distance between your outdoor water sources, you might prefer to use a mobile hose reel. These are mounted on wheels, and so can be pushed along to wherever you need them. This makes them far more versatile compared to fixed hose reels.

You will have to manually reel the hose in with these products, and also push it around, so if you’re not that physically able, they might not be the best choice for you. Then again, they are usually comparatively low cost.

Hose holder

If garden hose reels aren’t your thing, you can save a few quid by simply screwing a hose holder to the garden wall or just inside your garage or shed, and manually wrapping the hose around it. It does take a lot more manual labour to do this than with hose reels, but some people prefer the traditional approach to things. Another plus about hose holders is that there isn’t much that can go wrong with them and so they will last for years, and there are quite a few designs to choose from too, so you should easily be able to find something that looks just right on your garden wall.

As we are always keen on encouraging people to pick up their tools and have a go at DIY, we thought we’d share this video that shows you how to make an easy hose holder-

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, 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:

View all posts by Terry Smith

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *