Choose the Right Sprinkler System for Your Yard

sprinkler watering a lawn and a flowering bush

Different parts of your property may require different types of sprinkler systems in order to be watered most effectively. The type of soil, the size of the area being watered, and the amount of saturation desired are all factors that play an important part in choosing sprinkler systems. The three most widely-used types of sprinkler systems are spray, rotor head, and drip.

1. Spray Sprinkler Systems

These systems are ideal for small spaces that need a large concentration of water in a short time, such as flower beds, shrubs or turf. The application rate of spray sprinklers (the volume of water) varies enormously between systems, but runs on average from 1.5 to 1.7 inches an hour.

There are two types of spray sprinklers: pop-up, which pops up out of the ground just as its name implies, and those that are pipe-mounted, or stationary. Spray sprinklers have the best effect on flat ground and very absorbent soils like sand. If you have no choice but to use spray sprinklers on hilly areas or non-absorbent soil like clay, it is best to set the water to run on a cycle so it can be absorbed without first running onto nearby sidewalks and streets.

2. Rotor Heads

sprinkler head on a lawn

Rotor heads are useful for uniformly covering large areas like lawns, parks, or golf courses. Their application rate is considerably less than that of spray sprinklers - only 0.6 to 0.8 inches per hour on average.

This requires less cycling, since most areas and soil types have plenty of time to absorb such a limited amount of water while being constantly watered. Rotor heads come in single or double spray types, which are operated by a rotating gear and spurt out water in smooth streams. They are also sold in impact style units, which spray water in an upside-down conical fashion in all directions at once.

3. Drip Systems

This type of sprinkler is usually used in non-turf areas to ensure that only very specific plants or sections in a certain area get watered. The application rate of drip sprinklers varies widely - anywhere from 0.5 to 24 gallons per hour.

Drip systems take the form of tubes or hoses with small hoses in them through which water literally drips straight into the soil. Drip systems have two distinct advantages over other systems: you can set them to water whole areas or only predetermined parts (for instance, every other flower bed), and there is no irritating extra spray wetting surrounding pavement.

Whether small flower beds, expansive front lawns, or specific sections of foliage on your property need to be watered, choosing the right spray, rotor, and drip sprinkler system should make the task efficient and easy.