Hose nozzles turn your dribbling hose into an effective tool for watering and cleaning. Although you can adjust the flow from a garden hose by holding your thumb over the end, it’s hard to maintain a consistent spray for more than a minute at a time. A great hose nozzle can concentrate water into a powerful jet for scouring decks and walkways, but also disperse a broad spray for watering lawns, or create a gentle, directed spray for watering container plants and flower boxes.
We tested 14 hose nozzles, turning them on and off, adjusting their spray under high and low hose pressure, and looking to see whether all the different spray patterns were actually different and useful to the average backyard watering and washing.
For easy, drip-free watering and cleaning, the Dramm 12424 One-Touch Shower & Stream (available at Amazon) is Best Overall for its simple sprayer, and a flow control knob you can adjust single-handedly. If you need more variety in your watering, we recommend the Aqua Joe AJHN102 Adjustable Hose Nozzle (available at Amazon) as Most Versatile—it’s a power performer with multiple spray patterns that did a top-notch job of watering and misting plants.
Dramm One-Touch Shower & Stream
The Dramm 12424 One-Touch Shower & Stream is simple, elegant, effective, and high quality. As the name says, the dial has just two options: shower and stream. The flow is controlled by an easy-to-adjust rear thumb throttle. Between those two settings, the Dramm can perform most garden and yard tasks besides misting.
The full-pressure stream setting is one of the most powerful jet-streams we tested, pushing soil off a dirty deck fast. The shower setting puts out a medium-fine, drenching spray at full setting, for rapid but gentle watering that won’t damage delicate leaves, and at low pressure the spray is perfect for sprinkling seedlings without washing them away.
It’s a Goldilocks spray—it isn’t too heavy or too fine. It’s just right. The only drawback is that its watering radius on “shower” is small compared to other models, making it less useful for big yards.
The Aqua Joe AJHN102 has everything. The seven spray patterns include every option you could possibly use in your yard, from mist to jet to soaker, and the patterns are very different, unlike some brands with nearly identical settings.
The mist is very fine and dispersed, while the soaker puts out a steady gush of water without dripping down onto your hands. The center spray is great for small-scale watering of pots and plants, while the shower’s wide radius is perfect for lawns.
The jet is powerful, and the thumb throttle makes adjusting the flow a snap. The interior works are lead-free brass, promising durability, and the nozzle has a metal mesh filter at the entrance to screen out sediment.
I’m Meg Muckenhoupt, a garden writer and reviewer. I’ve been digging up yards for more than 25 years, and along the way I co-founded a community farm and earned a certificate in field botany. I’ve grown everything from radishes to rosemary from seed, and I maintain a small rose garden and a native plant meadow outdoors as well as an indoor plant menagerie that includes a 20-foot-tall avocado tree I grew from a pit.
We tested these hose nozzles by attaching them to a standard garden hose linked to an outdoor water faucet (ca. 50 PSI). We put them through their paces, turning or adjusting them through every setting at the maximum flow, and also with the faucet almost shut off.
We sprayed a wall, watered a lawn and individual garden plants, and washed a stained, dirty deck. We left the sprayer turned off with the hose on for a minute to see if the increased pressure made any part of the sprayer leak: at the head, the hose connection, or anywhere in between.
Finally, each hose nozzle was dropped onto a cement floor from hip height (ca. 40 inches) and re-tested to see if they could be easily damaged.
What You Should Know Before Buying A Hose Nozzle
To choose the right hose nozzle for your home, you need to think about how you’re going to use it and which is going to be most comfortable to hold for long periods of time, whether you’re watering hanging plants or washing a car. Which one you choose depends on whether you’re going to be using the hose more for watering plants and lawn, or washing cars, decks, or patio furniture.
What Are The Different Types Of Hose Nozzle?
There are three main types of hose nozzle: twist, pistol grip, and dial nozzles.
Twist nozzles are simple mechanisms. You screw a valve onto the end of your hose and twist to turn it on and off, and adjust the spray pattern. These nozzles are very durable and they’re easy to clean. However, twist nozzles also tend to have a very limited set of spray patterns, and it can be hard to tell where the nozzle is set when you turn it on, or how far you have to twist it to turn it off. Plus, you can’t adjust them single-handed. Twist nozzles tend to perform best on tasks that need a single, intense jet of water, like washing walls or decks. They also perform well when they’re mostly closed to make a fine mist.
Pistol nozzles are hand-held nozzles with a “trigger” you squeeze to start and stop flow of water. You can increase the water pressure by squeezing the trigger handle harder. Some pistol nozzles have a dial to adjust the flow. The trigger makes it easy to turn the flow on and off at the hose end, but it’s also another moving part that can wear out over time. Most pistol-grip nozzles have some mechanism for keeping the water flowing without squeezing the trigger continuously, like a small catch to hold the trigger open to a particular position. Still, using pistol nozzles can be difficult for people with arthritis or a weak grip.
Dial nozzles have a dial system on top that rotates to produce different spray patterns. If you want the flexibility to water plants and clean your deck, dial nozzles are your best bet. The disadvantage of dial nozzles is that the more moving parts you have in a sprayer, the less durable it tends to be; sooner or later, something will break, especially in models that have a high proportion of plastic parts that can crack. Dial nozzles also tend to drip and dribble onto the user more than pistol or twist nozzles.
A dial nozzle’s shut-off valve could be a pistol grip, but some have a “fireman handle,” a separate large loop handle that you can move up and down to adjust the flow. That ergonomic design makes them great for people who have weak grips or hand pain, or need to be able to use two hands to hold a hose.
Dial nozzles also can have a thumb throttle, a slide on the back of the handle you can use to adjust the spray with one hand.
What Kinds Of Spray Patterns Can Hose Nozzles Have?
The simplest hose nozzles have just two spray patterns: jet, which makes a single intense stream or water; and shower, which makes a cone of water. Those two settings are enough to clean sidewalks and furniture, and water garden plants and lawns.
If you’re watering container plants, look for a “center” spray option, which puts out a spray pattern that’s gentler than jet, but still concentrated so you can water a single plant pot instead of your entire deck. For washing cars, you may want to opt for the “soaker” option, which makes a stream of water similar to what you’d get coming out from the hose without a nozzle attached.
What Kind Of Materials Are Hose Nozzles Made From?
Hose nozzles are commonly made of plastic or metals—typically zinc or brass, or sometimes aluminum and stainless steel.
Brass is a favorite because it doesn’t corrode, but it can also contain lead, which can contaminate water and soil. If you opt for a nozzle with brass, look for the words “lead-free” to avoid introducing toxic metals into your yard.
Zinc nozzles are durable, but can corrode in the presence of salt water. If you live near the ocean, you may want to opt for nozzles made of mostly brass or plastic.
Plastic is lightweight, and doesn’t corrode, but it can crack or break down with sun exposure. Hose nozzles with a plastic exterior and metal interior fittings are often the best compromise for long-lasting nozzles.
What Kinds Of Extra Features Do Hose Nozzles Have?
Many hose nozzles start leaking once their rubber gaskets wear out. Look for models that provide extra gaskets. And if you tend to have sediment in your water—for example, if your outdoor water source is from a well—opt for a model that has a mesh filter at the intake. It will save you clogged-nozzle headaches.
Some nozzles come with quick-connect ends to allow you to take it on and off the hose without unscrewing it. Unless you have some pressing to rapidly switch between watering plants and filling a kiddie pool on at least a weekly basis, don’t bother. All of the models in our sample could be connected and removed from a hose in less than a minute.
Other Hose Nozzles We Tested
Green Mount Garden Hose Nozzle
The Green Mount Garden Hose Nozzle is a pistol-grip dial nozzle with zinc fittings and six spray settings. The rear lock latch allows you to spray hands-free with a steady, customized flow, although it takes a little fiddling to adjust.
With an outstanding mist setting, but lackluster jet power, it performed adequately in our tests. It consistently dripped when switching between settings, but not too badly. It’s a great nozzle for everyday watering and washing.
The Green Mount Fireman-Style Nozzle is a good option for getting a variety of spray options combined with an ergonomic fireman’s handle for easy flow adjustment. There’s a mesh filter to keep sediment out, and the head can be removed and cleaned in case any fine particles get through.
The interior is zinc, which bodes well for durability. The sprays aren’t quite as different from each other as some other models, and water tends to dribble down the handle when switching between settings more than other nozzles we tested.
Still, the Green Mount is a solid performer with a great jet setting for cleaning. It’s slightly cheaper than our top picks, and worth considering for a multi-function dial-type hose nozzle.
The Bon-Aire is a twist-type “fire hose” nozzle. To turn it on or off, or adjust the flow, you twist the rubber-coated casing. It has a decent jet stream when fully open, although it isn’t as forceful as some other models.
It makes a credible mist when mostly closed, but it’s tricky to get a “shower” setting for watering plants. You have to fiddle with it to get it to the setting you want, and there are no markings or stoppers to help you get it back to the right opening.
The exterior is protective rubber, and the interior is aluminum, stainless steel, and fiberglass, so it should resist salt water corrosion. Use the Bon-Aire for washing cars and patio furniture, or for creating a mist for air plants.
The Innav8 Water Hose Nozzle Sprayer is a thumb-throttle dial sprayer with zinc interior, a mediocre jet spray, and a slightly leaky dial head. This was the only model in our sample that leaked at the dial when left turned off with the hose turned on, and it dribbled significant amounts of water when adjusted between settings mid-spray.
While it can handle everyday watering tasks around your yard, the 10 watering patterns are a little redundant—“vertical” and “flat” are basically the same setting offset by 90 degrees.
The Melnor XT201 7-Pattern Nozzle is a pistol-grip nozzle, and a fine choice for everyday gardening and watering plants on a patio.
To adjust the flow, you either have to hold the handle in a precise position, or set a small wire “lock” at the rear of the nozzle. It’s a fiddly business if you’re wearing gardening gloves, and more awkward than some of our other choices. You can purchase a separate quick-connect system if you’re going to be taking the nozzle on and off a hose frequently.
The jet spray wasn’t as powerful as some other models, and the “soaker” setting made water fall closer to the nozzle than our top-rated models, making it likely to water your feet instead of your plants. It comes with extra washers.
The Elctman is a pistol-grip dial nose nozzle that had average performance in our testing. Like other pistol-grip models, the spray can only be adjusted by holding the grip tighter or more loosely. This can be difficult for users with limited mobility or strength in their hands.
Its jet spray is noticeably weaker than other models. Curiously, the “center” setting on the dial doesn’t actually water the center of the stream; it produces a circle of water with a dry core. Still, it’s suitable for everyday garden and yard tasks, and it comes with extra rubber washers.
The Signature Garden Heavy-Duty Nozzle is almost great. A pistol-grip dial model, it has a more compact stream than the Elctman, and its soaker setting is less drippy than the Melnor.
It features a rear flow knob, which should be helpful for setting the flow rate without squeezing the trigger—except that the knob is completely black with tiny markings. It’s hard to tell how much you’ve adjusted the knob without turning it to see if the water flow increases or decreases. A penny’s worth of paint would make this hose nozzle much, much more useful.
The SprayTec Garden Hose Nozzle Sprayer is a pistol-grip dial nozzle that dripped and dribbled constantly during our testing.
It does come with extra washers, and the rear dial allows access to the trigger for easy cleaning and replacement of O-rings, but the cons outweigh the pros. While you can still use this nozzle to water your lawn and flowers, there are better models that will keep you dry.
This pistol-grip sprayer has a twist-front valve. The body is made primarily of zinc, save for some brass-colored decorative styling. One of those brass areas is a screw cap on the top rear of the pistol, which might have allowed access to the interior if you can unscrew it: I could not open it without resorting to a wrench.
As with all twist-front nozzles, it’s tricky to find a good setting for watering plants—the shower spray is weaker than it is in dial models. The Fanhao also had one of the weakest jet sprays in our sample, making it best suited to washing cars and other items that don’t need a high-pressure jet.
This pistol-grip dial nozzle has an easy-to-adjust lever lock and a springy trigger. It does an excellent job of creating a fine, dense cloud of mist.
Unfortunately, its jet stream is so-so, the soak setting is sloppy and likely to drench your shoes, and it dribbled continuously during testing on every setting. We’d only recommend using this nozzle on warm days when you don’t mind getting a little wet.
Twinkle Star TWIS3231 Adjustable Twist Hose Nozzle
This plain-vanilla solid brass twist nozzle puts out a powerful jet for cleaning decks and pavement. It isn’t as good at watering grass or flowers due to the typical limitations of twist nozzles—you can’t control the flow without changing the shape of the spray, making it hard to get a good shower spray for plants.
This nozzle is great for cleaning decks, sidewalks, and any other place you need a powerful jet of water to dislodge dirt and debris, but there are better options for plant care.
Gilmour 5730 Rear Control Adjustable Watering Nozzle
The Gilmour is a pistol-grip spray nozzle that works slightly better than holding your thumb over the front of the hose. The spray pattern is drizzly, almost chunky, unless water is flowing at high pressure—if you run the hose with the nozzle turned off for a minute to build up pressure, for example.
You can’t get a jet spray or a gentle shower out of this nozzle, just a hard or soft drizzle. If you do opt for this nozzle, use it for watering lawns or mature plants with sturdy stems that don’t need gentle treatment.
Meg Muckenhoupt is an environmental and travel writer. Her book Boston Gardens and Green Spaces (Union Park Press, 2010) is a Boston Globe Local Bestseller. Meg was awarded a certificate in Field Botany by the New England Wild Flower Society and earned degrees from Harvard and Brown University.
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