Last Updated on June 12, 2022 by Gary Stephen
In this article, let us get to know more about the sprinkler system. How does the system work? What are the different types? And, what factors should you consider when buying such a device. To make things more effortless, we also included a shortlist of the best garden sprinkler systems in the market today.
Why We Need Garden Sprinkler?
Plants need water to thrive. And, that’s an absolute truth!
But what if there is plenty of ground to cover? It can be pretty impractical to use an ordinary watering can anymore. It just takes wayyy too much time and effort to get it done. Just imagine going to and fro the tap multiple times to refill your watering can? Or, if you have a garden hose, would you be willing to spend some time reeling the hose in and out every single day just to water the same exact spot?
Fortunately, the garden sprinkler system is created to eliminate these common woes.
Yup, this irrigation system allows us to water the garden with much ease and convenience. In the very manner that you want, and when you want it. With just a tap on the water source, gentle sprinkles of water flow all the way out to hydrate the lawn at any given time you wish.
Think of it like having a mini fountain planted right into your own garden. It is super fuss-free. It makes watering even the largest lawn just a piece of cake!
So, there’s no need to be fickle because here we got you some good sprinkles! Let’s begin…
What Are the Components Of a Best Garden Sprinkler?
What better way to get to know a device than by understanding how it actually works? But, before that, let us identify the vital components of the system first. That way, it makes these technical things easier to comprehend.
You might already be familiar with this as it is commonly present in most types of water appliances. The main function of the valve is to regulate the flow of water. Particularly, it is a means to cut off the supply whenever the need arises. This is very handy at times when water leaking occurs.
The backflow preventer acts as a filtering device. Basically, it prevents the water from the sprinkler system to penetrate the principal water supply. In that regard, dirt and other unwanted particles are being prevented from contaminating the water. Hence, keeping the potable water free from impurities as much as possible.
Larger lawns may need more than one sprinkler to cover the entire ground. Hence, the sprinkler zone is established to create an efficient division of the irrigation system. That way, the coverage of the sprinkler heads is even and will not overlap one another. Accordingly, this also prevents chances of overwatering and creating irregular patches of grass.
The sprinkler system can be made up of one or more sprinklers that are being connected in a network of water pipes. The main line is the primary pipe that supplies water throughout the system.
Generally, this pipeline is buried about 6 to 12 inches deep into the soil. Having it covered underground helps to protect the piping from damaging elements. Moreover, keeping them concealed makes it look tidier.
Having more than one sprinkler means you have multiple pipes too. These pipelines deliver water from the main line towards specific sprinkler zones. Thus, effectively distributing water where it is needed.
Each sprinkler zone comes with its own shut-off valve. This allows you to control the water flow to the specific zone as deemed necessary. So in cases where there is leaking in a certain zone, you can cut off the water supply to this area only. This then isolates the action without compromising the irrigation of other zones.
Also known as spigots. The sprinkler heads are the most exposed patr of the system. This component is the one responsible for dispersing the water into a spray-like fashion. These heads are strategically positioned across the entire lawn to deliver water efficiently.
The controller is “the brain” of the sprinkler system. You program it accordingly to control when to water and which zones to include or not. The more advanced the controller is, the more it enables you to customize your watering.
How does the garden sprinkler system work?
Now that you are already familiar with the components, it is easier to visualize how the entire system works. It is actually pretty simple and straightforward. Here’s how:
Let us start on the main line. This piping is the primary source of your water supply. A portion of it will be exposed above the ground. This is where the shut-off valve is closely located. As a general rule, the main line should always be near the main shut-off valve.
Not too far past the main shut-off valve, you can find the backflow preventer. This will facilitate the filtration of contaminants before it reaches the main line. Hence, minimizing the risk of tainting the drinking water.
From this point forward, the individual zone valves can be found. These valves will remain shut until the controller commands them to open. By then, an electrical current will be discharged by the controller to trigger the opening of the zone valves.
As it opens, the water from the main line is then released and will flow towards its specific zone lines. By the time the water reaches the sprinkler head, the pressure pushes the water up and out the device. Thus, dispersing the water across its area of coverage.
Different Types of Garden & Lawn Sprinkler Systems
1. Fixed Spray Sprinklers
As the name implies, this sprinkler system does not move. Instead, you can set up its water flow in various angles and patterns. Some models feature shapes including full, half, or quarter circles, and other specific spray patterns.
This is very helpful especially if you have a straight-edged lawn. With this, you can position your sprinkler head against the wall or the sidewalk. That way, the water is only dispensed on the lawn. Meanwhile, it keeps the wall or the sidewalk dry.
The fixed spray sprinkler also disperses a spray stream between 3 feet to 16 feet wide. This makes it suitable to use on small to medium-sized gardens and lawns.
On another note, this type of sprinkler can work just fine under low water pressure. It should be at least between 20 to 30 PSI though in order for it to operate. Hence, the fixed spray sprinkler is ideal for households and other areas with fairly low water pressure.
Check our top picks for fixed spray sprinklers.
2. Rotary Garden Sprinkler
The rotary sprinkler is a mechanically rotating sprinkler system. It delivers spray streams of water by spinning back and forth. Hence, creating water droplets in circles and at different angles.
Through its rotation, it enables it to disperse water farther than stationary sprinkler types. This action helps to catapult water up to 90 feet in distance. Or, that is about 180 feet in terms of diameter. On that note, the rotary sprinkler is best used on larger ground areas.
Aside from size considerations, it is also ideal to use on poorly-absorbent soils such as compacted and clay soil. The rotary sprinkler has a lower precipitation rate. That means it takes a longer time for it to deliver the same amount of water compared to other types of sprinklers. Hence, this extended period gives the soil more time to absorb the water rather than create a pool.
In order for this sprinkler to operate properly, the water pressure from the source should fall within 40 to 50 PSI. If your location is likely to have lower pressure, then this rotary type may not work to your best advantage.
The rotary sprinkler by itself has various subclassifications too:
Impact Sprinkler – The rotation is created as the pressure from the water stream builds up and pushes the spring-loaded arm. This very action is what generates a distinct clicking sound. Such noise is very distinguishable in this type of impact sprinkler.
However, not all consumers are pleased with this sound. Hence, it is the least favorite, especially among residential areas. But, because of the durability of its metal construction, it became a popular choice among commercial lawns. Like that of a golf range for instance.
Check our top picks for impact sprinklers:
This type of rotary sprinkler is built with a series of gears. This congruently operates along with the pressure from the water source. But unlike the impact sprinkler, the gears of this device are enclosed in a plastic housing. Thus, protecting the mechanism and at the same time mitigates the sound it creates.
The dispersion of water stream in a standard gear-driven rotor can reach a distance between 18 to 60 feet. Nevertheless, because of its quieter operation plus cheaper price point, it becomes an easy choice for both residential and commercial uses.
Check our top picks for gear-driven sprinklers:
4. Multi-Stream Garden Sprinkler
This type of rotary sprinkler features multiple spray streams. Thus, dispersing water in a rotating manner and in different directions. Because of its widespread distribution of water, it makes it a good choice for soils with lower absorption rates. Moreover, it is also suitable to use on grounds with uneven terrains.
The common problem though with a multi-stream sprinkler is that the spray head tends to easily clog-up. Hence, if ever you decide to use such a device, make sure to equip your irrigation system with a good filter.
Check our top picks for multi-stream sprinklers:
5. Oscillating Garden Sprinkler
This type of sprinkler is one of the simplest and most affordable in the market. It features a straight metal bar design with a row of multiple holes. The water spurts out through these openings creating a curtain-like display of stream.
Unlike other sprinklers that form a circular pattern, the oscillating variety rather produces a square or rectangular shape. This makes it a good choice to fit right into corner areas. Just make sure to estimate the distance accordingly to maximize the coverage and avoid wasting water.
The oscillating sprinkler can disperse water as far as 20 feet. Some models come with a knob to allow their users to adjust the distance of the stream. Nonetheless, such scope is suitable enough to cover a small to medium-sized lawn.
Check our top picks for oscillating sprinklers:
6. Misting Garden Sprinkler
The misting sprinkler is specially designed to produce water sprays at a much lower rate. Hence, they are also referred to as micro sprinklers. Not because of the device’s size, but because of the tiny droplets it creates.
On this note, the misting sprinkler is ideal to use on delicate areas such as in flower beds. The delivery of the stream is so gentle that it will not cause damage or disturb the fragile plants.Moreover, these fine sprays are also beneficial for poorly-draining soils.
Misting sprinklers do not need much water pressure as it tends to disperse fine droplets only. Because of that, it is rather more economical to operate as it consumes less water. Consequently, the spread of this dispersion is not too far away as well. Thus, this type of sprinkler is just perfect for small-sized lawns and gardens.
Check our top picks for misting sprinklers:
7. Raised Garden Sprinkler
Raised sprinklers are types of devices that are designed to be elevated and exposed to the ground. Unlike other sprinklers, they are buried deep into the soil. Usually, the sprinkler heads are raised about a few inches or more from the base. The height can vary depending on your needs.
The main advantage of raised sprinklers is that you can easily transfer their placement. Thus, whenever you need adjustments, this can be possibly done because the pipings are not buried underground.
Nevertheless, the sprinklers are also prone to get damaged because of their exposure. This can be both caused by physical disturbances and environmental elements too. It can also pose a safety hazard as people might trip over these pipes.
The prominent protrusion of the device can also be an unpleasant sight to see. It can distract the aesthetics of a garden. Hence, they are better off used for crops or any agricultural applications.
Check our top picks for raised sprinklers:
8. Pop-Up Garden Sprinkler
If you do not like your device exposed like the way raised sprinklers are, then this type is for you. The pop-up sprinkler is an irrigation system that only becomes visible when activated. But, it conceals back down to the ground when not in use.
Because of that “pop-up” action. The sprinklers do not become an eyesore nor a safety hazard. Hence, they are suitable to use for household gardens and lawns.
The pop-up sprinklers can disperse water at an average distance of 15 feet. Such moderate reach is great for covering small to medium-sized ground areas. If you wish to extend its reach, you may do so by adding more sprinkler heads to fill in the larger space.
Pop-up sprinklers also come in various heights ranging from 2 inches up to 20 inches. Nevertheless. the 12-inch height is most commonly used. The main purpose of the variations in lengths is to accommodate the differences in the landscapes.
Flatter grounds are easier to reach hence a shorter sprinkler will do it fine. However, lawns with uneven terrains or slopes are better off with taller sprinklers. That way, the stream will not be overwhelmed by grasses, rocks, or any object that can block the reach of the stream.
Check our top picks for pop-up sprinklers:
9. Sprinkler Hoses
If you wish to have more mobility but with the same nozzle design as sprinklers, then this is perfect for you. It is not an actual sprinkler system per se. But, in a way, it produces that same water sprinkling function. So basically, it is like a garden hose and a sprinkler both at the same time.
Because of the flexibility of this device, you can use it on almost all types of applications. Be it on a small or large lawn. However, it is most helpful to use in irregularly-shaped grounds. You can aim it at different angles so you can better access otherwise hard-to-reach areas.
Check our top picks for sprinkler hoses:
10. Traveling Sprinklers
If you wish your sprinkler system to reach far and wide, then this traveling sprinkler is your best bet. By the name itself, this device is literally mobile as it sits on top of a tractor. Hence, it is otherwise called a tractor sprinkler.
This self-propelling sprinkler can travel across your lawn while spraying streams of water along the way. Because of its movement, it is a perfect alternative to having multiple sprinklers. It does the job well at covering large ground areas. At the same time, it saves you lots of time and effort.
The traveling sprinklers operate with a turbine-drive system. This mechanism utilizes the flow and the pressure from the water source to initiate movement. This type of sprinkler is the most convenient option for commercial and agricultural functions. Nevertheless, there are also smaller models that can fit right into your residential needs.
Check our top picks for traveling sprinklers:
What to consider when buying a garden sprinkler?
Sprinklers are not a one-size-fits-all kind of device. As you may have known by now, different types can accommodate different ground sizes too. Hence, it is important for your chosen model to fit according to the actual needs of your garden.
Get a rough estimate on how big or how small the size of the area that needs watering. That way, you can ensure that areas will be duly covered by the sprinkler. Moreover, it allows you to utilize your water resources wisely. No wastes, no run-offs.
Garden Sprinkler Coverage
Different sprinklers have different coverage. Some types can throw streams of water farther than the others. This will determine how big each sprinkler head can cover. By then, you will know how many devices you will likely need to accommodate the entire ground without overlapping.
Some sprinkler models allow you to regulate the pattern of the water stream. Often, it gives you the advantage to adjust the spray in either full, half, or quarter angles. On that note, you can have better control of which area in your lawn will receive water and which side should remain dry.
Quality of the Garden Sprinkler
The quality of the product both in materials used and construction always has an impact on the performance of the product. Hence, it is best to choose a sprinkler system that is well-built and long-lasting.
Take for example, the metal sprinkler is a better investment compared to an all-plastic sprinkler. Yes, metals may be a bit more expensive but they can guarantee longevity.
On the other hand, it can really be tempting to buy a plastic sprinkler because of its cheap price point. Nevertheless, they almost always do not last you a long time. In the end, you would still need to repurchase another one and deal with the hassle of installation all over again.
The water pressure from your tap also has an impact on the performance of the sprinkler. Some types work best with high water pressure. Meanwhile, some can operate well even with low pressures.
So it is best to check the average rate in your area before buying a sprinkler. That way, you will know which types can work well considering how strong or weak the pressure is.
Type of Soil
As mentioned earlier, soil that is less-absorbent tends to develop run-offs if given too much water at once. Thus, the key here is to opt for a sprinkler with a low-precipitation rate. Common options include misting and rotary sprinklers. Such devices allow time for water to penetrate without getting the soil overwhelmed.
Condition of Landscape
Is your lawn flat, rocky, or slopy? This is a vital question to ask as it can also affect the performance of the sprinklers. It is fine if you have fairly flat ground. You can get by just fine using any type of sprinkler.
However, if your lawn happens to be mostly uneven, then a raised-type or pop-up sprinkler is more suitable. Elevating the sprinkler head allows you to bypass the obstructions from the ground. Moreover, it also eliminates the chances of water pooling on certain spots.
Wrapping Up about The Garden Sprinkler Systems
The garden sprinkler is the best tool there is for totally effortless watering. We hope that the guidelines we provided herein helped you sort out the right lawn sprinkler for your needs. Thus, you can make the most out of this wonderful irrigation system. Without much fuss, only good buzz!