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Choosing a Lawn and Garden Sprinkler

There are a lot of tips and tricks out there for making a truly lush lawn and garden, but the number one secret is often overlooked: give it enough water! Your property needs more water than you might think to turn into something vibrant, and the best way to provide it is with a sprinkler. But there’s a very fine line between dehydrating and drowning, so it’s crucial to pick the right sprinkler!

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Lawn Sprinkler

Property Size and Shape: Keeping a 2-acre lawn watered takes a very different sprinkler system than a small backyard garden. It’s crucial to first figure out the shape and dimensions of the watering area before picking any sprinklers.

Soil Type: Your soil’s watering needs will dictate almost everything for selecting the best sprinkler. Sandy soil requires much more water than clay soil, while loam soil retains moisture longer than sandy but not as long as clay. Always check for any changes in plants or grass like slow growth and browning (water more) or oversaturated soil (water less).

Climate: How hot and dry is your local area? A lawn trying to thrive in the Texas heat will need a lot more watering than a flower garden in rainy Oregon. Make sure that the lawn sprinkler system you’re getting is well suited for the climate!

... If your area doesn’t get much rain and you have a huge garden, set up a large irrigation system.

Water Usage Limits: If you live in a region with strict watering regulations, you’ll need a sprinkler system that uses less water. Sprinkler water usage can vary significantly by model.

Sprinkler Material: The most common sprinkler materials are plastic and metal. Plastic sprinklers are popular because they’re budget friendly. Metal sprinklers are usually more expensive but more durable. For most watering needs, plastic can more than handle the job.

Sprinkler Connection: Regardless of the sprinkler type, you will always want to ensure a tight connection with a hose. Metal connectors are the strongest and best at preventing leaks or clogs.

Different Types of Lawn Sprinklers

Stationary sprinklers are fixed models that don’t move. Sometimes called spot or fixed sprinklers, they spray in a particular pre-set pattern that could be circular, square, or rectangular. They are ideal for small to medium gardens or lawns since they only water one area at a time.

Oscillating sprinklers use a long tube and head with multiple holes. When water pressure builds up, water sprays out of the holes in a rectangular pattern. The water pressure forces the tube to rock back and forth, watering a larger area in the process.

... Oscillating sprinklers cover a lot of ground.

Rotating sprinklers have at least two arms and spin to shoot water in a circular pattern. They are best suited for large gardens or lawns because of their even water distribution and quick irrigation ability. For kids trying to beat the heat, rotating sprinklers are the favorite!

Impulse sprinklers shoot a jet of water in a circle while making a clicking sound as they turn. Sometimes called pulsating or impact sprinklers, these options are wind-resistant, feature adjustable patterns, and are great for large lawns and gardens.

... Impulse sprinklers can come with spike, tripod, or wheel bases.

In-ground or pop-up sprinklers are underground sprinkler heads that pop-up from the ground when watering. In-ground sprinklers can stand alone with a hose, or they can be connected to a larger watering system. They are convenient and efficient, but most useful for a property you’ll live on for a long time because of their expense to install and difficulty to remove.

Traveling sprinklers look like little tractors that move on their own by harnessing water pressure. No electricity, gas, or manual labor needed! These moving sprinklers take away any annoyance of schlepping sprinklers around a big property. Be sure to look for a model with an automatic shutoff valve, which stops the water flow once the sprinkler finishes its pattern.

Misting or micro sprinklers deliver small amounts of water over areas with compacted soil, plants with delicate watering needs, or other dedicated spots. Misting sprinklers work from very low water pressure.

Differences Between Sprinkler Bases

Spike sprinklers keep a sprinkler anchored in the ground using a metal step spike. Some spike sprinklers can be connected to other sprinklers and water huge spots without moving the equipment around.

Sled sprinklers rest above the ground on flat beams or small wheels. They can cover large areas and are very maneuverable, especially the models on wheels!

... Sled sprinklers provide a lot of watering flexibility.

T-post sprinklers sit on metal t-posts and fence posts. Most water partial to full circles, so they’re great for gardens, pastures, lawns, and any landscaped areas with fencing. Having an elevated watering system also saves you from tripping over the sprinkler!

Tripod sprinklers stand on top of the ground on three legs. They are super portable and perfect for watering large lawns. They also provide a rain-like effect for herb or flower gardens.

Investing in a Sprinkler Timer

If you want to streamline your watering system, there are plenty of easy ways. The options range from single electrical watering timers to app-based systems for full property irrigation.

... Sprinkler timers can be used with just one sprinkler or a zoned system.

The best automatic system depends on your property size, house style, and climate. Many homeowners prefer to use an irrigation app so they can water from anywhere and adjust on-the-fly based on weather. Electrical watering timers are less expensive and equally easy – just set them ahead of time.

Build a System

Any sprinkler you choose is just one part of a watering system. Hoses and hose reels are often the most handled and punished parts of a watering system, so make sure you have ones that are durable and easy to use. For some areas of a garden and for certain delicate plantings there is no substitute for a good old-fashioned watering can. And, if you are ecologically minded, you might want capture rain water with a rain barrel and work it into your watering routine. Look here for new products coming soon. Or sign up for new product emails. Happy gardening!

Last update: 6/28/2022