Cranky? Try This Hose Reel

+ More

I was skeptical. Despite liking new gadgets, I couldn't see spending $80 on a reel for winding up the garden hose. But after a couple of weeks, I went and bought another for the backyard. The No-Crank Hose Reel does what it advertises–it winds up our 50-foot hose with the flip of switch. No batteries, no plug, no effort.

Manufacturer Hydro Industries developed the tech behind the autowinder, which works off a small pump driven by the water pressure in the hose. Turn a lever and the device pulls the hose in, with a guide distributing it neatly on the reel. So far, it works like a champ.

Hydro introduced its first model a couple of years ago, and it now sells a complete line that starts at $50 and includes a fancy, $200 wood version for the discriminating gardener. A teak model is apparently in the works, if you must. Our version, which my wife spotted at the local Lowe's home store, says it can handle a 125-foot hose that it also stores in a reasonably attractive plastic box.

For the crank to work, the faucet has to be turned on and the hose capped with a closed nozzle. That makes for a bit of hassle to use the hose for anything else, such as a sprinkler. Hand-reeling the hose isn't an option–there's no crank included. Still, I find myself watering more with either a nozzle or sprinkler. I'm sold; it didn't seem like much effort to wind a hose, until I didn't have to do it myself.