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Shopping for a new sprinkler head can be a challenge. You may not know what kind of sprinkler you need, or what type is even good for your lawn. What works for your neighbor’s house may not provide enough coverage for your lawn.
In fact, the shape of your lawn has to be factored in, not just the square footage. That just makes it even more complicated. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by what you hoped would be a simple purchase, we’re here to help.
We’ve reviewed the highest-rated sprinklers on the market. We covered every category of sprinkler, and reviewed them by type. What you see below is a detailed look at ten different sprinkler heads.
Scroll further down for more details on the best sprinkler heads, and what to look for in a sprinkler head. We’ll cover all the information you need to know about the different types of sprinkler and what each one is best suited for. We’ve done all the research for you.
This sprinkler from Melnor is just like the sprinklers you grew up with, except it’s made better. It has 20 precision brass nozzles for even coverage, and it comes with a nozzle cleaning tool built-in. It can still provide hours of fun for kids on a hot day, but it probably provides better coverage than you’d expect from such a simple design.
The sled is made of metal which makes it both durable and stable. It’s guaranteed to last a lifetime. It can cover up to four thousand square feet, but you can adjust the coverage range anytime you like. That means that if you only want to water a small area, this sprinkler head will still work for you.
Because it only oscillates from side to side, it covers a rectangular area. That makes it great for most lawns, but if yours is an irregular shape this sprinkler won’t cover the whole lawn, regardless of size.
If your lawn is rounded or if the lot doesn’t have straight edges, you’ll find that this sprinkler may struggle to cover the whole yard. If that’s the case, this isn’t the right sprinkler for you.
If you liked the quality of the last Melnor sprinkler, but your lawn is an irregular shape, this rotary sprinkler may be the one for you. It can attach directly to a garden hose, and it has a built-in stake to keep it upright and in place.
It can water an area of up to seventy feet in diameter. The unit-to-unit connection ability means you can actually link together several of these to cover the whole lawn at once. That gives you the kind of coverage you normally need an in-ground system for, without the expense.
Each sprinkler has six different spray patterns to choose from. You can opt for a fan or a full spray, and you can even choose a vertical fan to cover a smaller area if you need to.
This sprinkler is almost silent, too. You can set it up and turn it on early in the morning without worrying about waking the neighbors.
Brass sprinkler heads are more durable than plastic ones. It’s getting hard to find brass sprinkler heads, though. These are meant for use in an in-ground system.
Plastic has become the industry standard. It’s cheaper to use and lasts nearly as long as metal sprinklers anyway. Some people also get nervous about all-metal sprinkler heads when they mow their lawns. They get worried that they won’t realize that one of the sprinkler heads got stuck up until they hit it with the lawnmower.
That’s an unlikely scenario, though. These brass heads are perfectly safe. And, if you’re trying to cut down the amount of plastic you use, these are a great way to do that. The coverage range for each head will vary based on your water pressure and how many sprinkler heads you use. 4-6 feet for each sprinkler head is normal. You adjust the range with a screw on top.
You can buy these one at a time or in packages as large as fifty. Just remember that the more you buy, the more water pressure you need.
This sprinkler head has a universal design- meaning it can effectively replace any sprinkler head in a system, no matter what brand it is. It comes with a nozzle that gives you 35 feet of coverage.
This sprinkler head can operate at any pressure between 20 and 80 psi, and can still come close to that 35-foot coverage distance at low pressure. The spray pattern is fully adjustable, too. You can set it to cover a full circle, half circle, face in just one direction, or anything in between.
You can buy them individually to replace broken sprinkler heads in an existing system. They’re also sold in bundles of as many as 20 sprinkler heads if you’re putting in a new system. They have an inlet on both the side and the bottom, so no matter how your sprinkler system is designed these will work with it.
Those are half-inch inlets, though, so be sure that your plumbing will match them. Some systems still use three-quarter inch connections, especially older systems.
Rain Bird is widely considered synonymous with quality. This pop-up sprinkler head is no exception. The spray distance can be adjusted from a minimum of twenty-four feet to a maximum of forty-five feet.
The spray pattern is fully adjustable, too. You can set it from 0 degrees up to 360 degrees, and everywhere in between. The arm is double-weighted, which slows down the rotations and increases the throw distance as well. It comes with five color-coded nozzles, each one for a different flow rate.
The lowest flow rate is 1.5 gallons per minute and the highest is 8.4 gallons per minute. You don’t even need tools to switch out the nozzles. The pop-up height is three and a half inches, which should clear the grass without any problems.
The inlet will work with both half-inch and three-quarter inch plumbing, which gives you a lot of flexibility. There’s a side inlet too, but that one is only for half-inch plumbing.
This is one of the best-selling plastic impact sprinklers in the world. That alone lends it some credibility, but it’s full of great features that make it a solid choice.
The double-weighted brass arm slows down the rotation and provides more even coverage than a lighter arm would. The diffuser screw creates smaller water droplets, which also helps provide even coverage.
The stream is controlled by a guide arm that prevents side splash onto buildings and sidewalks. That keeps all the water going where you want it: on the grass. The bayonet-style nozzle is easy to remove and clean. The straight through-flow design improves performance in all water conditions.
It can move in a full circle or a part circle (20 degrees to 340 degrees), giving some flexibility in how you want your coverage to work. The spray distance can be adjusted from a minimum of twenty-five feet up to a maximum of forty-one feet.
This is more or less the exact same as the last model we listed, but made of brass instead of plastic. It comes in a few different models, which have slight variations in the spray distance. The difference really isn’t much, it goes up from forty-one feet to fifty feet.
It’s made of brass, bronze, and stainless steel. That makes it a very durable sprinkler head that should last a lifetime no matter the conditions it’s in. Plastic sprinklers and even other brass sprinklers that use zinc won’t last nearly as long.
One sprinkler head can cover up to 5200 square feet, but only in a circle. That means you’ll likely need more than one to cover your yard, as it will leave areas outside the circle uncovered.
Just as the previous sprinkler on the list is the most popular plastic impact sprinkler, this is the most popular brass impact sprinkler. It’s patterned after the very first impact sprinkler, so it uses a time-honored design that’s held up for decades.
This sprinkler provides the largest single-head coverage area of any we’ve listed so far. It has a spray radius of eighty-five feet, for a total coverage area of 5,620 square feet. It’s made of zinc, which isn’t quite as durable as brass or stainless steel. It’s much more durable than plastic, though.
If you attach the deflector, the spray radius goes down to forty-two feet, but can be adjusted down to twenty feet. The anti-backsplash arm keeps the spray controlled for more efficient water usage.
The spray pattern can be adjusted for a full or partial circle, too. The easy-to-use diffuser screw can break up the water stream into smaller droplets for more even coverage.
There are some problems with it, though. The legs don’t lock in place, so you need to check it frequently to be sure they’re still in position. Some people with hard water have experienced longevity issues with this sprinkler head, so it’s best for soft water supplies.
For rectangular yards, oscillating sprinklers like this are the best choice. In-ground systems will work well, but an oscillating sprinkler is cheaper. Rotating sprinklers can never cover the entire yard if it’s rectangular, but an oscillating sprinkler can.
20 precision nozzles provide gentle and even coverage. This particular model can cover up to 4,500 square feet. Two touch controls can adjust the width and range of the coverage, too. That way you can cover a smaller or larger area of the lawn or flower bed without ever having to move the sprinkler.
The Zoom Control adjustsfour-pack the whole coverage pattern at once. If you want to expand the width and length of coverage at once, you just zoom it. While it’s not an all-metal construction, it’s still made of quality materials that should last awhile. Not as long as metal, but longer than you’d expect.
For an in-ground sprinkler system, these are one of the best options. They have an adjustable coverage pattern that goes from 40 degrees to 360 degrees. The spray distance is adjustable from 19 feet up to 32 feet.
The Rain Curtain nozzle technology produces larger water droplets that aren’t effected by the wind as much. That means more of the water goes where you want it instead being blown away. It also gives you more uniform coverage without needing a deflector.
The spray nozzle is fixed at three gallons per minute, which should be plenty. At standard residential water pressures (45 PSI) that nozzle will throw water out to 32 feet. The throw distance is adjusted with a screw on top of the head that can be adjusted with a flathead screwdriver.
These are sold in packs of four. For most home uses, one four pack can probably cover the whole yard. They can be mounted on a half-inch riser, so you can use them with an older system. They pop up to four inches in height, which is plenty of clearance over the grass in your lawn.
The first thing to do when shopping for a sprinkler head is to determine what kind of sprinkler system you have or want. In-ground sprinkler systems are great for convenience and ease-of-use. They’re almost always connected to a timer that automatically triggers them.
That means you can water your lawn before the sun comes up even while you sleep in. It also means you never have to think about watering the lawn. It becomes an automatic process, and your lawn will be lush and green.
The downside is that it can be expensive to put in such a system if you don’t have one. It involves digging trenches for the pipes and connecting everything properly. Fortunately, these systems tend to be pretty foolproof and durable, so once it’s set up it doesn’t require much maintenance. You’ll have to replace some of the heads every now and then, but that’s it.
Oscillating and impact sprinklers are cheaper, but it’s more difficult to automate them. Plus, you’ll have to move them around to make sure the whole lawn is watered. However, they are very affordable, easy to use, and the good ones will last a lifetime.
Oscillating sprinklers are best for rectangular lawns. When you see one in action, it’s easy to understand why: they spray the water in a rectangle. They’re incapable of spraying water in a non-rectangular pattern. If your lawn isn’t a rectangle, and oscillating sprinkler can’t cover all of it.
Impact sprinklers rotate, so they spray in a circular pattern. This leaves gaps in their coverage, especially in a rectangular lawn, but makes them ideal for lawns with an irregular shape. They also tend to be the most durable sprinkler heads available. If you get one made of brass, you should never have to replace it unless you lose it.
Plastic vs metal
This debate is mostly restricted to above-ground sprinklers. There are pop-up sprinklers made of brass (like the Orbit brass pop-up heads we listed above). They’re hard to find and often don’t provide much coverage, though.
In-ground sprinkler heads are almost always made of plastic with a few metal parts. Impact and oscillating sprinklers, though, are often plastic. The quality varies widely, but in general plastic sprinkler heads are less durable.
This seems to be especially true for impact sprinklers. Oscillating sprinklers don’t have much of a difference in durability between plastic.