We’ve just installed two new outdoor faucets in the backyard, so I’ve been busy joining old and still usable pieces of hose together – whilst also thinking about how to dispose of the really damaged bits. So can they be recycled?
Old hose pipe can’t be recycled. While hoses may contain polyurethane or PVC, they can also contain other materials that can’t be recycled. They are also known in the waste disposal trade as “tanglers”, as they get stuck in garbage trucks and wound around conveyor belts at recycling facilities.
It appears there’s lots more to recycling the humble hose than I first thought – so let’s look at what else you can do with them when they reach the end of their life…
Are Garden Hose Pipes Recyclable?
Unfortunately, you can’t recycle an old garden hose. They might seem like they’re made from polyurethane or PVC, but they can actually contain other materials that can’t be recycled.
Not only are they made from non-recyclable materials, garden hoses are actually known in the waste disposal trade as “tanglers”. They can get stuck in garbage trucks and wind themselves around the sorting conveyor belts at recycling facilities. Even if your hose is made from a single material, never dispose of it with the recycling for this reason.
So what can we do with these problematic items? The best thing to do with a cracked or leaking garden hose is either to repair it, or to repurpose it.
How Can I Fix a Broken Hose? (If I can’t Recycle it)
You don’t have to dispose of a leaky hose. The chances are that the broken part is just a very small proportion of the entire length, so it seems unnecessary to get rid of the whole hose pipe.
If your hose pipe is getting on in years, it may be that it’s starting to perish. However, if it’s simply been punctured by the dog, or run over by the mower, or a section has been damaged by frost, you can simply repair the broken section and carry on as you were.
You can actually buy hose repair kits at places like Home Depot and Lowe’s. These can be plastic or metal, and are available in different diameters. Top tip: cut off a small bit of the old hose and take it with you to the store, just to make sure you have the right size. Kits come with threaded ends (male or female) and a connector clamp that you can use for repairing a leak in the center of the pipe.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the hose so you have a clean end (cutting your hose pipe in two feels a bit weird, but you need to cut out that damaged section)
- Insert the cut end of both sections of hose pipe into the clamp, connecting the two ends back together
- Tighten the screws on the clamp to make sure it’s a tight fit
Take a look at this short film on YouTube to see how easy it is to repair minor damage to a hose pipe.
If the damage is pretty light, such as a small hole or tear, you can actually pick up suitable tape to repair the leak. Electrical tape, which is usually PVC-backed, is elastic to work with and weather-resistant. Here’s how you repair a hose pipe using tape.
- Clean the damage section, then dry it thoroughly with a cloth
- Mark the damaged area with a pen (they can be surprisingly tricky to spot!)
- Wrap the tape around the damaged part of the hose pipe. Go round a couple of times, but make sure it’s not so tight that it will affect the flow of water
- Turn on the faucet and see if it’s worked…
Quite often, the problem is a leak at one of the connectors. This means you won’t have to repair or replace the actual hose pipe, but may need a new spigot or gasket. You can easily pick up spare parts for garden hose pipes at home stores and garden centers, or order one online from Amazon.
If you feel your hose has really perished or a large length of it has been torn, it may be time for a brand new one. So now the biggest issue is just how to get rid of that damaged old water pipe…
What Else Can I Do With Old Hose Pipes?
If you can’t repair your hose, but don’t like the idea of chucking it in the trash, you can reuse or even upcycle it.
There are actually lots of different things you can do with your old garden hose. Here are a few of our favorite ways to repurpose your old hose pipe: just grab a pair of sharp scissors or a utility knife, and away you go…
Turn it into a soaker hose
Hose pipe sprung lots of leaks? Turn this into an advantage, by punching more holes into it, and using it as a soaker hose for your lawn during dry spells.
Chop it up for blade guards
Cut the hose into small lengths and use it as safety covers for sharp garden tools. Slit the pipe along one side so it slips over cutting blades.
Use it to cover handles
Again, cut it into lengths to slip over chains and ropes for a safer, more comfortable grip. This works well on kids’ swings.
Use it to make a handle
Handle broken on a favorite old bucket? Make a new one from a length of strong and flexible hose pipe and some S clips.
Wedge it under doors
As many gardeners have found, sticking a length of hose pipe under the shed door props it open perfectly. Keep a few short lengths handy for when you need to wedge a door open.
A soft alternative to twine
If you need to support any branches, hose pipe is a gentle alternative to garden twine or wire. It’s great for young trees as it won’t damage the bark.
Get really creative: hose pipe furniture
Yes, really. A long hose can be used to make an attractive bench seat, wound closely around the frame to form a springy seat. You can even paint it in some fantastic colors (we’ll talk about painting hose pipe a little further on).
Children are natural recyclers. You see a length of old hose pipe. They see a fantastic marble run or a toy snake for their Halloween decorations or a jump for a toy horse… If used safely, a piece of old hose pipe can have all sorts of creative uses once the kids get hold of it.
The “just in case” box
Surely you have a “just in case” box in your shed, attic, or garage? You can now add some lengths of hose to it. You never know when you’ll need an impromptu gate closure or handy doorstop or toy snake…
Keep using it as a hose pipe
Just need a short length of hose for some jobs? Find the best yard or two from the old hose pipe, and save it for those occasions when you just need a quick blast from the hose rather than getting out the whole reel.
If your old hose pipe is long enough, you’ll be able to repurpose it for all of these uses, and more!
Final Words: Can You Paint a Water Hose?
You can paint a water hose. They’re a fiddly shape to paint, so we’d definitely recommend a spray paint. Choose one that will stick to plastic: legendary paint brand Rust-Oleum has sprays that work with plastic. If you’re keeping your old hose outside, you’ll need to use a paint that’s weatherproof.
However, if you’re using the old lengths for craft projects, you won’t have to be as fussy. Provided it’ll adhere to plastic, it doesn’t matter if it’s not suitable for outdoor use.
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >