Oscillating or Rotary Sprinkler: Which is More Efficient?

The debate over whether a rotary sprinkler or an oscillating sprinkler has divided many people. Some say that an oscillating sprinkler uses less water, while the proponents of the rotary sprinkler claim they get the best use of their water. Sprinklers are at the forefront of the water conservation movement. They provide home owners with the opportunity to keep their lawns healthy, green and lush through the warm summer months and when rain might be scarce. On the other end of the spectrum, they can also be labeled as unnecessary during a long drought or low rain. Companies have been working towards a better, water conserving sprinkler. There are several different types of water sprinklers today, but the two most commonly used are the rotary and oscillating sprinklers. Here are a few of the important items to consider when deciding which of the two to purchase.

Rotary Sprinklers

A rotary sprinkler is one that is attached to a long spike. It is placed into the ground, where ever you need it. You connect a garden hose to the sprinkler head and it rotates in either 180 degrees or a complete 360 degrees. It generates its movement from the water pressure that is coming through the sprinkler head. This kind of sprinkler can cover a wide area. Depending on the size of your lawn, you might only need a few rotary sprinklers to cover your yard. Rotary sprinklers are usually best used on medium sized or small lawns. They have water jets on the ends of the arms and can lay down a lot of water very quickly. Most models can put down an inch of water per hour.

Oscillating Sprinklers

An oscillating sprinkler is another kind of portable sprinkler. While they do not usually have a spike to drive into the ground, they have a wide base that simply sets on top of the lawn. They have a bar that is covered in multiple water jets. This bar moves back and forth in an arc that distributes the water in a fanning motion. Oscillating sprinklers can cover a large area in a square or rectangular pattern. The water will cover both sides of the oscillating sprinkler, but not in a rotary style. As the bar moves back and forth the water will move in a fan shape. This means that it will travel in an up and down motion across the area it covers.

Measuring Water Efficiency

In terms of water conservation, both the rotary sprinkler and the oscillating sprinkler can be water efficient, with proper use. For a small yard, a rotary sprinkler will be your best option. However, for large lawns, an oscillating sprinkler will be better. The most important factor when considering water efficiency is the amount of time that the sprinklers are used. You shouldn’t leave the sprinklers on too long and when use your sprinklers in the early morning hours. The early morning hours provides the best absorption.