Whether you’re an avid gardener or just someone who needs to spray dirt off their porch, the garden hose is one of the most indispensable outdoor items you can own. But one thing often stands in the way of watering flowers or getting rid of driveway stains: when you realize the nozzle isn't working and turn around to see the hose has kinked, interrupting both the flow of water and your productivity. Even hoses advertised as being “kink-free” can get twisted.

Why does this happen? And how can it be stopped?

The primary reason hoses get tangled and compressed has a lot to do with how they’re stored. While it’s convenient to put an unused hose in a coiled-up pile or on a spool, a curled-up hose will be more prone to kinking. Laying the hose straight out will keep it from getting bent out of shape. (You can bend it once to cut down on the space it takes up.)

For some people, this will work, providing the unspooled hose isn’t a tripping hazard. If not, there’s a better solution. If you have a garage or some free space on your home's exterior, you can install storage brackets with several feet of space between them and then wind the hose around them. Instead of being in a taut circle, most of the hose will still be stretched out.

You can experiment with different ways to hang a hose, but make sure you’re distributing the weight across two hooks. If you just use one, you’re probably placing too much stress on the hose, which will result in kinks.

Some people prefer hose reels, which keeps the length of hose covered in a casing to protect it from weather damage and releases only the length of hose you need.

The quality of hose matters, too. Generally speaking, the thicker the material, the less likely it will be to kink. Some hoses might have a supportive "jacket" that makes them less prone to getting tied up, while certain materials (like vinyl) make them more likely to bend than hoses made from rubber or polyurethane. You can try bending the hose in a store or coiling it to see if it gets out of shape easily. If your hose is older, it might be more apt to getting bent out of shape.

You can also look for a spray attachment that has a swivel base. That means you turning the sprayer nozzle won’t force the entire length of hose to turn in the same direction.

If you’ve tried everything and your hose is still kinking, leave it out in the sun for a few hours with the water turned on. The combination of the heat and water pressure should smooth out the kinks, leaving you free to get your outdoor chores done.