7 Types of Sprinklers: How to Choose the Best Sprinkler

Rotating Sprinklers

A lush green garden needs to be watered. Lawn sprinklers are the simplest and best way to keep your lawn quenched.

Choosing the best types of sprinklers for your lawn can spell the difference between lush green grass and brown lawn.

7  Types of Sprinklers

1.     Rotating Sprinklers

2.    Oscillating Sprinklers

3.     Quiet Rotor Sprinklers

4.     Pulsating Sprinklers

5.     Multi-Head Automatic Sprinkler System

6.     Traveling Sprinklers

 7.     Walking Sprinklers

A sprinkler system suitable to your needs is key to having the most beautiful lawn in your neighborhood. Choosing the best types of the 7 sprinklers depends on the type of garden you have and its layout. Thinking about your garden’s needs will enable you to easily select the right type of sprinkler for the garden.

How to Choose the Best Sprinklers for your Needs

Taking into consideration your needs is important when choosing the best sprinkler for your yard.  Some types of sprinklers need higher water pressure than what you have in your home.

Some sprinklers are not ideal for newly seeded lawns or gardens because they shoot water with high levels of pressure.

Here are some things you need to consider so you can choose the right type of sprinkler for your yard. 

Size of the area you need to water. You will need to choose a sprinkler than can either cover the entire area or water it with just a few moves.

Shape of the area you need to water. There are specific sprinklers that are ideal for square, round, rectangular, pie-shaped, and irregular-shaped areas.

Amount of water you will be watering. Choose a sprinkler that can shoot out enough water to thoroughly water the area.

automatic sprinkler system watering the lawn

Frequency you need to water your lawn. The more your lawn needs to be watered, the more ease of use and convenience features you need to look for in a sprinkle.

Water pressure at the spigot you will be connecting your sprinkler to. There are specific types of sprinklers that work well with low water pressures and high-water pressures.

Structures or areas that should not get wet while watering your lawn.  If this is the case, you may need to choose an adjustable sprinkle so you can fix the angle in only the areas you want to water.

Consistency of Cover

Check if the sprinkler can shoot the same amount of water across your entire lawn.

Make sure the sprinkler emits water evenly across your lawn and not on with some spots getting more water than other spots.

Convenience Features

Check where the flow control is located. Also, check if the sprinkler has an on/off switch. Will you get wet trying to access these controls?

Sprinkler Material

What material is the sprinkler made of? Sprinklers made of metal are durable and long-lasting, but they can be heavier and more difficult to move.

Plastic sprinklers are lighter but all not too durable.

The moving parts and the parts that connect to the hose should ideally be made of metal.

Stability of the Sprinkler

If it comes with a sled base, the sprinkler should be able to lay flat on the ground. If it is on a stake, it should be vertical.

The sprinkler should also remain stable while it is in use. Sprinklers with heavier or wider base are typically more stable.


Depending on your yard, you may need a sprinkler that can easily be adjusted.

Some sprinklers do not come with adjustments – you just turn them on, and the water will move in a set pattern without any need for adjustments.

Other sprinklers come with dials, knobs, or levers to adjust the length, width, and water flow. If this is the case, make sure the controls are intuitive and easy to use.

Hose End Coupling

The connection point between the hose and the sprinkler should be easy to handle. Some tend to be slippery. The connector should have a washer inside.

It should also have a strainer or sieve to keep out debris because they may clog the nozzles. Metal coupling should have thread to prevent stripping and leaks.

Many sprinklers come with plastic coupling that will not last if the metal ones.

Swivelling connectors that connect to the holes allow the sprinkler to lay flat on the ground without having to struggle with the hose.

Now, let’s discuss the different types of Sprinklers:

1.     Rotating Sprinklers

Rotating sprinklers or rotary sprinklers consist of rounded heads (one or more) driven into your lawn with metal spikes.

Each head rotates 3600 sprinkling waters through holes within the diameter of the sprinkler.

Water from a rotary sprinkler may come from underground piped or by connecting the head of the sprinkle to a garden hose.

The base of a rotating sprinkler has a base you can lay on the grass allowing it to be picked and transferred.

Some rotating sprinklers have wheels so you can drag them around when you pull the hose or stakes so you can position the sprinkler in one spot and move it as you desire.

A rotary sprinkler typically has three arms. Each arm may contain one or more openings or adjustable nozzles where the water sprays out.

How Rotating Sprinklers Works

Rotary sprinklers shoot water horizontally around its center. The water shooting forward from the openings pushes the arms of the sprinkler backward allowing the sprinkler to spin.

If what you have adjustable nozzles, you can position them at an angle you wish. A 900angle will spray water straight up and you will be able to cover a smaller area.

When you increase the water pressure, water pressure increases the rotation and widens the distance traveled by the water.

When you decrease the water pressure, water pressure decreases and also decreases the distance travelled by the water.

A rotary sprinkler is versatile because you can adjust its coverage area. The vest rotary sprinklers have these features: 

Metal sprinklers last longer than plastic sprinklers because the plastic ones can be damaged or warped when exposed to direct sunlight. Plastic sprinklers, though, are more affordable.

Adjustable sprinkles allow you to control the direction of the water.

Quick connectors allow the sprinkler to be easily connected to your hose.

Spray Pattern: Square or circular

Speed: Slow to very fast watering

Water Reach:  Up to 60 feet in diameter

Pros of Rotating Sprinklers

  • The head of the sprinkler is larger and provides more coverage.
  • Low precipitation rate allows you to cover more area evenly for a longer period.
  • It allows more water absorption for sloped areas.
  • Rotor heads are easy to maintain.

Cons of Rotating Sprinklers

  • Rotors may take long to install because you may not initially know their ultimate positioning.
  • They need to be set and rechecked after installation.
  • Rotors can be a bit expensive.

Suitable Usage

Rotary sprinkles work quickly. Many models can deliver one inch of water in an hour. It provides even coverage for small to medium lawns.

A basic rotary sprinkler can water a lawn within a 10-feet radius. If you indeed to water a golf course or a park, you can use more powerful units or several individual heads to cover a larger area.

You can adjust rotating sprinklers to shoot a gentle mist for newly planted grass or shooting water as strong as heavy rain for established lawns with different water pressures.

Sled-based rotary sprinklers or sprinklers with wheels can make it easy for the rotary sprinkler to be moved around.

2.     Oscillating Sprinklers

Oscillating sprinklers come with a tube that goes back and forth to create an arc-shaped spray. This type of sprinkler has a long bar with a row of holes moving left and right.

Oscillating sprinklers spray water in a rectangular pattern. Some models have adjustable knobs allow you to adjust the shape and reach of the spray. If the model you have does not have a knob, you can adjust the sprinkler by altering the water pressure.

How Oscillating Sprinklers Works

The oscillating sprinkler works by attaching connector to a hose. A knob is used to adjust the pattern of the spray to either left, right, center, or full.

A small arm is connected to the knob that is pushed by a cam.

The cam rotates slowly, at about 1 revolution per minute. The cam allows the arm to swing back and forth. A spray arm, an aluminum tube with nozzles or holes on the tube, has an O-ring seal and ferrule that is screwed into the sprinkler’s body.

Water flows through the spray arm, out through the nozzles or holes.

Spray Pattern: Rectangle

Speed: Fast

Water Reach:  Up to 60 feet wide and 70 feet long

Pros of Oscillating Sprinklers

  • Best for rectangular grass areas.
  • Can be adjusted to suit your yard size.
  • Can handle any lawn size if it has a uniform shape.
  • Ideal for small yards.

Cons of Oscillating Sprinklers

  • This sprinkle will miss some areas if you have an irregularly shaped or curved lawn.
  • Some models can perform erratically or create puddles with low or high-water pressure.
  • The sprinkle will not work well with low water pressure.
  • Can be difficult to set the right settings.

Suitable Usage

Oscillating sprinklers are ideal for rectangular or square lawns. It can spray up to 20 feet, which is about the size of small and medium-sized lawns.

The best models are the ones that have at least 15 jets that allow even coverage of your lawn.

3.     Quiet Rotor Sprinklers

Quiet rotor sprinklers have a smooth operation. It has a quiet mechanism hidden in the head of the sprinkler that stops the noise, like a chugging train, in most water sprinklers.

While the sound of flowing water and fizzing are normal for active sprinkler systems, a quiet operation can be ideal especially when you have low water pressure.

Spray Pattern: Partial to full circle

Speed: Fast

Water Reach: Up to 80 feet in diameter

Suitable Usage: Quiet rotor sprinklers are ideal for large lawns that require a lot of watering over a short time. This is an ideal sprinkler if you have low pressure water.

4.     Pulsating Sprinklers

Pulsating sprinklers or impact sprinklers spray water upwards. They are good in providing a gentle and slow watering for watering large lawns.

How Pulsating Sprinklers Works

Pulsating sprinklers scatter water from a single jet. They are typically adjustable and release water in partial and full circle patterns. Their watering distance is also adjustable.

A pulsating sprinkle works through a sprinkler head that turns on a bearing. Some heads can pivot up to 360 degrees and others can cover a semi-circle.

A pulsating sprinkler can be connected to a hose. They are available in sprinklers with a spike base or one with a sled base. A powerful stream of water shoots and can go for quite a distance.

It can soak a yard quickly and thoroughly and the water goes deep into the soil and not just the surface.

Spray Pattern: Partial to full circle

Speed: Slow

Water Reach: Up to 90 feet in diameter

Pros of Pulsating Sprinklers

  • Gets water deep into the roots
  • Works well with any lawn structures and layout.
  • Comes with adjustable spray patterns.
  • Can spray long distances.
  • Relatively inexpensive.

Cons of Pulsating Sprinklers

  • Requires high pressure.
  • Not suitable for newly seeded lawns.

Suitable Usage

Pulsating sprinklers are best used in large lawns that need to be watered slowly. You can adjust the flow of water to suit how the soil absorbs water. This sprinkler lays close to the ground so windy days allow less drift.

5.     Multi-Head Automatic Sprinkler System

A multi-head automatic sprinkler system comes multi-head rotary sprinklers. It is a 3600-lawn sprinkler that can be adjusted.

Most multi-head sprinkles come with up to 12 adjustable sprinklers and up to 36 water outlets. Each head has a nozzle that can be adjusted to rotate up to 360 degrees.

Spray Pattern: Hose heads can be adjusted in endless variations

Speed: Slow

Water Reach: Up to 35 feet depending on the water pressure

Pros of Multi-Head Automatic Sprinkler System

  • Sprays a large area uniformly
  • Often comes with rotating lawn sprinklers

Cons of Multi-Head Automatic Sprinkler System

  • Some models are difficult to adjust

Suitable Usage

Multi-head automatic sprinkler systems are for small and irregular-shaped lawns. Hose heads can be aimed at several specific areas to minimize water wastage in drought areas.

6.     Traveling Sprinklers

A traveling sprinkler is a portable water sprinkler. It eliminates the trouble of having to carry hoses across your lawn. When using a traveling sprinkler, you need to have a 30-60 PSI inlet pressure.

How Traveling Sprinklers Works

A traveling sprinkler comes with a stationary base where the turbine drive system is housed.

It works by attaching your garden hose to the stationary base. Pull the lever and the turbine drive will be released and the hose will stretch to sprinkle water in your desired length.

You will then need to start the water and the traveling sprinkler will water your lawn. The sprinkler is powered by the water that gets into the sprinkler head.

To re-engage, turn the lever on the stationary base and the turbine drive system will roll back to its base.

Traveling sprinklers can water a yard up to 250 feet. This sprinkler directs water depending on how you position your garden hose.

You can arrange it to cover irregular-shaped lawns and large areas. You can even use it up hills because of the high-water pressure needed to run the sprinkler.

Water Reach: Up to 250 feet

Pros of Traveling Sprinklers

  • Can effortlessly cover very large areas
  • Easy to move around

Cons of Traveling Sprinklers

  • Needs high water pressure

Suitable Usage

Traveling sprinklers have two rotating arms that shoot water from a hose that rolls over your lawn. It shoots water around its path.

This type of water sprinkler is ideal for irregular-shaped lawns and large yards because you can lay your hose in any pattern you desire.

It is ideal for yards that would typically need several sprinkler systems to water the whole area.

7.     Walking Sprinklers

A walking sprinkler is not just an ordinary sprinkler you place in one portion of your lawn the entire day. A walking sprinkler allows you to water your lawn with less supervision.

Walking sprinkles are often shaped like trains, tractors, or earth movers. They typically weigh about 30 pounds so they can pull a long full and long hose.

How Walking Sprinklers Works

A walking sprinkle works through water pressure. You simply need to set the sprinkler arms in the tight angle and the hose path, and it is ready to water your lawn.

It will work along with the hose without anyone pushing it.

Your walking sprinkler will run alone because the water pressure will push it. The water pressure will turn the gears connected to an axle that will make the sprinkler wheels move and run.

  • Spray Pattern: Long, snaking path
  • Speed: Slow to medium
  • Water Reach: 4- 50 feet on each side of the hose that can be up to 200 feet.

Suitable Usage

Walking sprinklers are ideal to use in large lawns with turns or hills.

While other sprinklers will water this type of lawn unevenly, the front wheel and two-speed sprinkle will crawl in one direction along the path of the hose.

Reasons to Use a Lawn Sprinkler

Using a lawn sprinkler is much better than using your hand to water your lawns and garden beds.

Watering your lawn is not a matter of choice but of necessity. Grass tends to go into dormancy when moisture is at critical levels. Watering grass will make it grow again.

Using lawn sprinklers is a must when you want to maintain a lush garden. Look at the many reasons why you need to use the right types of sprinklers for your yard:

Convenience in Watering your Lawn

Lawn sprinklers allow you to save on time when watering your lawn. You can set the timers of the sprinklers and they will automatically water your lawn at the prescribed time of the day or days of the week.

Sprinklers also allow you to have a hands-free method of watering your lawn.

Watering your Lawn Correctly

There are advanced automatic lawn sprinkler systems that have sensors to detect the weather and soil moisture allowing it to distribute the right amount of water and the area in your lawn that needs to be watered at a given time.

When to Water your Lawn

Watering your lawn at the right helps you conserve water. You can set your sprinkler to turn on and off at the right times, typically in the morning.

Watering when the sun is high will make your lawn prone to faster evaporation and will make you waste about 25% of the water used to water your lawn.

Setting your timers to turn on the sprinklers in the mornings instead of at night will also protect your grass from diseases caused by allowing your lawn to remain moist all night.

Aesthetic Appeal and Safety

Hoses lying around in your lawn can be a tripping hazard. They are also not a good sight when left unrolled in your lawn after use.

Sprinkler systems installed underground with pop-up sprinklers are visible only when they are watering. They disappear when they are done watering.

They will not pose as a hazard and will allow your lawn to be aesthetically beautiful.

Watering Your Lawn While You Are Away

Lawn sprinklers prevent you from worrying about your lawn not being watered while you are gone.

You can set the timer of your automatic lawn sprinklers to run at certain hours of the day and days of the week.

A lush green lawn is one of the best assets of your property. Some lawns need to be watered every day. Some twice a day. You do not need to water your lawn yourself.

Small and big yards can benefit a lot from using a sprinkler. While you can use a hose and water your lawn multiple times a week. A sprinkler can save you time and reduce the effort of watering.

Final Thoughts

There are many types of sprinklers and choosing the best one for your yard can be daunting. The thing is you need to choose the best sprinkler that matches the needs of your lawn.

A sprinkler that needs high water pressure will not work well if you have low water pressure in your yard. A sprinkler that can only cover a 20 feet yard will require more time and effort to water a 50-foot yard.

Jenny Marie

Tribal Writer


Edited By

Patricia Godwin

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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