The 9 Best Watering Tools to Buy in 2018

Shop for the best tools to water your lawn and garden

Young woman sprinkling lawn in the garden

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Maintaining green lawns, lush flowerbeds, or productive vegetable gardens usually means homeowners need to give Mother Nature a little boost. Good watering tools including watering cans, hoses, sprinklers, and related accessories can make managing water levels a little bit easier. Just be sure to buy the right tool for the job: That 25-foot hose may seem like a bargain until it can’t reach those farthest garden rows, and a tiny indoor watering can may not have the capacity for all those outdoor planters.

Here are our favorite watering tools for a range of indoor and outdoor needs.

  • 01 of 09

    Best Sprinkler: Nelson 1865 Raintrain Traveling Sprinkler

    Nelson 1865 Raintrain Traveling Sprinkler
    Courtesy of Amazon.com.

    Reviewers say the Nelson 1865 Raintrain Traveling Sprinkler offers an ideal alternative to pricey automatic sprinkler systems and inconvenient stationary sprinklers that must be constantly repositioned. The Raintrain is a self-propelling sprinkler that can slowly roll and water wherever homeowners lay out their hose. Made of cast iron, it can travel up to 200 feet and cover up to 13,500 square feet of yard.

    The Raintrain has three speed settings and adjustable arms that can cover anywhere from a 15- to 55-foot diameter. Reviewers say this makes for a high degree of customization that keeps water levels tailored for different types and sizes of yards. They also like the automatic shutoff, which means they don’t have to babysit the sprinkler as it does its job. But some say the iron body is too heavy, and it can be tricky to use on hills or in tight areas that require it to execute sharp turns.

    Take a look at other product reviews and shop for the best sprinklers available online. 

  • 02 of 09

    Best Irrigation Timer: Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller

    If you want a smarter way to water your lawn and garden, install an irrigation timer. The Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller offers ultimate control over your irrigation system and superior savings on your water bill.

    The Rachio controller is a smart irrigation device, meaning that it can be operated via your smartphone or tablet. The second-generation of this device also adds the ability to manually turn zones on and off at the control box – which is a major plus if a repairman or the lawn guy needs to test the system. The Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller sets itself apart with its ability to use local weather data to adjust your watering schedule. Save water and money by avoiding pointless watering during a rainstorm and never worry about your lawn receiving too much or too little water when you’re on vacation. You can install the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller in the house or garage, but if you want to install it outside you’ll need to also purchase an outdoor enclosure to protect the unit.

    The Rachio irrigation timer can also be controlled by several smart home platforms, including Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Connecting the Rachio to your home’s WiFi system used to be a bit trickier, but the new version of the device has made the process easier. And while setting up basic watering schedules is easy and intuitive, to take full advantage of the system’s irrigation controls you’ll need to dig a bit deeper in the settings and maybe even read the manual. Still, the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller is an easy-to-use smart irrigation timer that will give you water savings with minimal hassle.

     

  • 03 of 09

    Best Large Watering Can: OXO Good Grips Outdoor Pour & Store

    OXO Good Grips Outdoor Pour & Store
    Courtesy of Amazon.com.

    Owners say OXO’s Good Grips Outdoor Pour & Store elevates the humble watering can with its thoughtful design. This 2-gallon plastic can is available in green, blue, and fuchsia. A smaller 3-liter version is also available.

    Several features make the Outdoor Pour & Store a winner, reviewers say. They like the movable spout, which can swivel back toward the can for easier storage and reduce dribbles during filling and carrying. Water levels are clearly marked, and a removable rose attachment allows for more even watering and stores directly on the can so that it isn’t misplaced. The easy-to-grip rubberized handle and large filling hole also earn praise. Complaints are minimal, but some reviewers say their cans leaked at the base of the swivel spout.

    Check out our other reviews of the best watering cans available on the market today.

  • 04 of 09

    Best Soaking Hose: Miracle Gro MGSPA38100FM Premium Bulk Soaker Hose Kit

    Miracle Gro MGSPA38100FM Premium Bulk Soaker Hose Kit
    Courtesy of Amazon.com.

    Soaker hoses can meet the needs of thirsty plants without sacrificing water that runs off faster than they can absorb it. To that end, owners love tailoring the Miracle Gro Premium Bulk Soaker Hose Kit to their needs, saying it’s a versatile soaker system for gardens, flower beds and other areas that need extra attention. The kit contains a 100-foot soaker hose that can be cut to fit any layout, two feeders, four plugs, and 12 connector pieces.

    Reviewers say it’s easy to cut the soaker hose and fit it with connectors, and they say the hose is pliable enough for use in tight gardens where precise placement is key. They also like the slow, even flow, which doesn’t flood plants and keeps water bills low compared to more imprecise sprinklers. However, some buyers say they’ve had issues with too much water being dispersed from one end of the hose and not enough at the other.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Best Rain Gauge: Stratus RG202 Long-Term Professional Rain and Snow Gauge

    Stratus RG202 Long-Term Professional Rain and Snow Gauge
    Courtesy of Amazon.com.

    Though it’s more expensive than many rain gauges, owners say the Stratus RG202 Long-Term Professional Rain and Snow Gauge makes up the price difference in quality and accuracy. The UV-resistant polycarbonate gauge is made to National Weather Service standards, and it can measure not only rain but snow, hail, and sleet as well.

    Owners say the Stratus makes measurements simple and accurate to 1/100th of an inch, and because it can accommodate amounts up to 11 inches, it won’t overflow even during serious storms. They also say it easily stands up to any weather conditions, with several reviewers reporting years of trouble-free use. A built-in “quick connect” bracket allows easy removal when it is installed properly on a post away from trees and buildings. Some reviewers are disappointed that they must measure each inch of precipitation individually in the central marked tube, however.

  • 06 of 09

    Best Plant Mister: Core Gear Garden Handheld Plant Mister

    Core Gear Garden Handheld Plant Mister
    Courtesy of Amazon.com.

    Suitable for either indoor or outdoor use, the Core Gear Garden Handheld Plant Mister has a 1.5-liter capacity that means even the most houseplant-happy buyers won’t have to refill it too often. Made of heavy-duty plastic, the mister comes with a carrying strap and belt clip that makes it easier to tote around. 

    The Core Gear Garden Handheld Plant Mister has an adjustable brass nozzle that can be closed for a fine, gentle mist or opened for a focused stream that can reach up to 25 feet—handy for hanging plants or other hard-to-reach spots. Owners say the contoured grip is comfortable to handle, and they appreciate the lock feature that means they don’t have to keep pressing down the handle to keep a steady mist or stream. However, some caution that even the mist is too forceful for delicate plants, and others say the rubber gasket inside the mister often falls out when the container is opened.

  • 07 of 09

    Best Hose Timer: Orbit Programmable Hose Timer

    A hose timer can help you keep your watering on track and your garden from becoming overly saturated or desert dry. The Orbit Programmable Hose Timer is a popular choice.

    This hose timer has a simple dial interface that lets you decide how often you want the unit to turn on the water supply, what time it should start at, and how long it should run for. There is also a rain delay button that puts a hold on your watering schedule for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

    Like many hose timers, this unit from Orbit is susceptible to some wear and tear from the elements. Some people have had issues with the unit leaking or the programming malfunctioning. However, the majority of people have been very satisfied with the Orbit Hose Timer. Simple precautions like bringing the unit in during winter weather or installing a water pressure regulator can help make the unit work even better. For easy, straight-forward automatic watering, the Orbit Programmable Hose Timer is a great option.

  • 08 of 09

    Best Rain Barrel: Rescue 50 Gal. Flat Back Rain Barrel

    rescue-rain-barrel
    Courtesy of Home Depot 

    Make the most of showers with a large capacity rain barrel. The 50-gallon Rescue Rain Barrel will hold plenty of water for all your gardening needs.

    The Rescue Rain Barrel has a flat-back design, which is popular on many rain barrels and allows it to sit closer to a house or building. This rain barrel includes a diverter kit, which is an add-on with many other rain barrels. The diverter kit will ensure that rainwater runs into the barrel when space is available but bypasses the barrel and continues down the downspout when the barrel reaches capacity.

    A planter is built into the top of the barrel to add some flowers or plants. If you’re looking to further blend the rain barrel into your landscaping, the integrated planter is a major plus. However, some have noted that the planter seems like it takes up space that could’ve otherwise been used for water collection. When the weather turns cold, most people have had good success storing it outside by disconnecting the diverter, then simply opening the valve on the barrel and tilting it forward to drain all water before a hard freeze sets in. Overall, the Rescue 50-Gallon Flat Back Rain Barrel is an excellent value, thanks to the included diverter kit and smart design features. 

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Best Watering Wand: ikris Garden Hose Wand

    A watering wand has become a popular tool for ensuring that every plant gets plenty of water.  Pick up the ikris Garden Hose Wand and you’ll likely never want to pick up a traditional hose nozzle again when it’s time to water your plants.

    One of the most-loved features of the ikris Garden Hose Wand is a thumb lever that begins the flow of water. Instead of having to squeeze a lever and apply continuous pressure while watering, the lever keeps the water flowing until you move it back to the off position. If you have a large garden to water or other conditions that make it hard to squeeze a trigger on a traditional nozzle continuously, you’ll appreciate the convenience of the thumb lever on the ikris Garden Hose Wand.

    This watering wand features a number of different spray patterns, though it is lacking a ‘full’ pattern. A few people noted that this feature would’ve been useful for filling watering cans, but most gardeners found the ‘rinse’ pattern to be a good substitute. The big advantage of the ikris Watering Wand is the ability to reach over, around, and under plants and make sure that you can water from many different angles. The 16-inch shaft of the wand should be plenty of length for most gardening needs, but a 33-inch shaft is also available. Use the ikris Watering Wand if you want convenient control options (thanks to the thumb lever) and the ability to access hard-to-reach watering spots.