Lawn Sprinkler Buying Guide: Locating the Sprinkler That Best Fulfills Your Watering Needs

Water conservationists and some cities prefer that home owners use soaker hoses or similar systems that will focus on getting the water onto and into the ground. However, there are times and situations where a sprinkler is the best device for your needs. Sprinklers not only put water on the ground, they help wash accumulated dust off grass, flowers and vegetables. They can provide cool, outdoor summer fun for youngsters. Carefully selected, they can even be a decorative part of your landscaping plan.

Photo credit: ** RCB ** via Foter.com / CC BY

There are many brands and styles of lawn sprinklers available on today’s market. Sorting through them to find the one that is going to work best for you can be a real challenge. Here is are just a few of the many brands and styles available to make your lawn and garden watering chores easier, to encourage the grass in your lawn to be beautiful, to amuse youngsters and to beautify your home.

**Below, you will find more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon.

Picking the Sprinkler or Sprinkler System That is Ideal for You

No two lawns, homes or families are the same. The first consideration in selecting your preferred system is to determine the purpose for which you are purchasing your sprinkler. The second is your lawn – its size, pitch, type of grass. Third, you will also want to consider flower beds and trees. Finally, the people and pets who will walk near the sprinklers and possibly play in them could influence your buying decisions.

Water Conservation and Sprinklers

Depending upon your location and the season, you might need to take water conservation into consideration. Before investing in a sprinkler system or even a small sprinkler, check with your city regulations concerning water usage. Your city planners might specify certain types of water sprinklers to be used in your neighborhood. Be sensitive to water usage alerts. August is often the prime month for restrictions on lawn watering and recreational use of sprinklers.

Cost vs. Convenience

A sprinkler or watering system that can be put in place and be left until the end of the season might help save on labor. Of course, you will also have to consider how to protect your watering system from your lawn mower. Systems that can be buried or concealed below blade height cut down on mutual damage to your sprinkling system and to your mower. Timers, either mechanical or electronic, are an added convenience – particularly the systems that are capable of monitoring water flow.

Types of Sprinklers and Sprinkler Systems

Just as there are many different kinds of lawns, there are a wide variety of sprinkler products available. The main types include

Large, Professionally Installed Sprinkler Systems

This is the kind of system that you might order from a professional landscaper. The advantage of doing this is that if you have a large expanse of lawn, a professional watering system can save you time, money and conserve water. This article will not review these systems – but they are mentioned here for the sake of being thorough. These systems are usually set up with timers,and sometimes water meters, to conserve water and to deliver it at optimal times.

DIY Sprinkler System Installations

These are the economy version of the professional installation. They can include sections of hose, sprinkler heads, hose connectors and sometimes even timers or digital controls that allow you set a timer for convenience and savings on water usage. Some of them include hose connections that can be buried under sod or concealed in the edge of the lawn. For the handy home-owner, these can be comparable to a professional installation at a considerable cash savings. Of course, there is a bit of sweat equity involved.

Traveling Irrigation Sprinklers

Travelers are a compromise system between sprinkler systems and stationary sprinklers. A traveling sprinkler uses the force of the water traveling through its rotating sprinkler arms to drive it along the ground. It uses your garden hose as a guide. Lay out the garden hose in a pattern that will guide the sprinkler across your yard. When the sprinkler reaches a plastic tray, it will stop and automatically shut off.

Stationary Sprinklers

Don’t be fooled by the name. These can have rotating or oscillating arm that distribute the water stream. As the name implies, however, you place them in one spot. In order to water lawn or flowers in a different spot, you must manually move them. They are the perfect type of sprinkler for those often un-watered corners or to provide entertainment for the kiddies on a hot day.

Decorative Sprinklers

Photo credit: John Levanen via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

You can not only water your flowers, lawn or vegetable patch, you can beautify it with lovely sprinklers. They come in different shapes and designs, and often have movement that is driven by the force of the water flowing through the pipes that create the design. They make an attractive addition to your garden or yard, but are sometimes not as durable as the more utilitarian sprinkler types.

Just for fun

Photo credit: javanutmom via Foter.com / CC BY

For barbeques and backyard summer parties, a sprinkler with a sturdy design could be just the thing. Combine it with a child’s wading pool or even one of those above-ground backyard pools and it can provide hours of fun for youngsters and even adults.

Water Sprinklers Have Their Place

Soaker hoses do a great job of saturating the ground, but sometimes a sprinkler is the best way to deliver water to a situation. When it is time to wash away the dust, beautify your landscape or have some cooldown summer fun, sprinklers can be the perfect solution.

Product Reviews – The Best Lawn Sprinkler

1. Nelson 50180 Simple Soaker Flower Watering Sprinkler with 50-Foot Tubing, Five Nozzles with Plastic Spikes, Risers, End Plug Set, and Deflectors

Via Amazon.com

This is the DIY version of a buried sprinkler system. The nozzles fit onto the plastic spikes, and are connected with hose tubing. The tubing is not perforated, and can be buried in the intervals between the nozzles. The risers can be used to extend the height of the nozzles to spray into hard-to-reach areas. An end-cap keeps the water pressure inside the hose, and flowing out through the spray nozzles.

The Nelson 50180 does a good job on hills – an area where soaker hoses simply do not function well. The system can easily have a timer incorporated by attaching it to the intake tube. Prepare it for winter by removing the end-cap and letting the hoses drain. It is best when strategically placed along flower beds and borders to avoid conflict with mowers, but can be used on lawn areas if care is taken during grass trimming.

Pros

  • Low-cost solution to a watering system
  • Easy to install
  • Variable sprayer heights
  • Can be allowed to winter over

Cons

  • Potential for lawn mower damage
  • Best placed along edges or in beds
  • Some parts might need to be replaced each season

2. Nelson 1865 Raintrain Traveling Sprinkler

Via Amazon.com

The Raintrain Traveling Sprinkler is a fun sprinkler. It uses the water force from its rotating nozzles to push it along the ground. Your garden hose is the track that guides it along the ground. It is supposed to be able to pull up to 100 foot of hose along behind it, but terrain and water pressure can influence this capability. You lay the hose out in the pattern you want the sprinkler to travel. The sprinkler follows along the hose, heading back to the hydrant. When reaches its plastic parking piece – which is placed on the hose – it stops and the water shuts off.

Many people think that it is fun to watch in action, and it does a great job of watering a large, level lawn. However, if your lawn is on a slope, you will want to lay out the hose so that the Raintrain travels downhill. It needs an established lawn for optimum operation – raw dirt will quickly turn to mud that will clog the wheels. The newer models have plastic gears that wear out more quickly than the older all-metal models. The wheels have sharp spikes that help move the sprinkler along, but have the potential to cause minor damage to humans or pets.

Pros

  • Fun to watch
  • Can water large areas of level lawn
  • Easy to install – just lay out the hose in the desired pattern
  • Auto shut-off for economical use of water
  • More than one can be coordinated for a large lawn

Cons

  • Metal spikes on the wheels can cause minor injury when handling the sprinklers
  • Does not work well going uphill
  • Wheels clog on muddy ground
  • Needs a high water pressure to work well

3. 360-degree Rotary Trigeminal Courtyard Lawn Sprinklers

Via Amazon.com

This stationary waterer has three arms that, as the name implies, rotate 360 degrees. It can be set to water a large or a small area and could be just what you need for a small yard or patio area. It is a reliable little workhorse sprinkler, suitable for small lawns, flowerbeds or even allowing the kids to have some fun.

Pros

  • Extremely easy to set up and use
  • Good seal on hose connection

  • Adjustable spray distance

  • Could be used as child or pet sprinkler

Cons

  • Only set up for single attachment to hose

  • Might take several for a large lawn, or would have to be moved several times
  • Plastic construction

4. A5018 Decorative Spinning Sprinkler Set

Via Amazon.com

Sprinklers might sometimes be both functional and beautiful. Decorative sprinkler sets can be connected similarly to the Nelson Simple Soaker. The sprayer heads might be in a variety of shapes – butterflies, frogs, and geometric designs seem to be popular. A row of them along the edge of a flowerbed can efficiently deliver water while adding something pretty to your lawn or garden.

Stainless steel that has been coated with copper color is likely to be more durable than plain copper ornaments. These sprinklers – possibly because motion is part of their charm – are more likely to break or become non-functional over a single season. With careful selection and judicious use, they can water your plants while adding a decorative touch.

Pros

  • Adds a designer touch to your lawn or garden
  • Can be set up similarly to the Nelson Simple Soaker

  • Are often two or three feet tall, allowing the water stream to reach farther than shorter nozzles

  • Are generally child or pet friendly for sprinkler fun

Cons

  • Are less durable than more utilitarian models

5. Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Pretty Petals Flower Sprinkler Toy With Hose Attachment

Via Amazon.com

The Pretty Petals Flower Sprinkler is listed as a toy, but it can also function as a stationary sprinkler. The sprinkler is molded to look like a little flower patch. Each flower is a sprinkler nozzle. It is a fun choice for a preschool or early elementary backyard summer party, but it can also function as a pretty sprinkler for a flower bed or even a small vegetable patch. It could even be used to water a small lawn.

The flower nozzles are molded hard plastic – no wiggly motion here, folks. The water streams can shoot at high as four feet in the air with good water pressure. Although in previous years’ models, sun fading of the colors has been a problem, the new model is very bright – so, hopefully, this problem has been diminished. It is designed as a toy, and is less problematic from a safety standpoint than “grownup” sprinklers.

Pros

  • Designed for child play
  • Functional for small lawns, flowerbeds or vegetable patches

  • Decorative addition to small beds

  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Would have to be moved multiple times for a large lawn
  • Functions only as a stand-alone with a single hose connection
  • Color fading has been a problem with previous years’ models

Choosing the Best Sprinkler for Your Lawn and Garden

Each of these sprinklers has strengths, but most of them also have weaknesses. Of these five sprinklers, our pick is the Nelson 50180 Simple Soaker. Although it requires some initial setup, it can remain in place from season to season. It does not need professional installation. It is economical to use, especially with a timer added, and can be strategically placed.

In a pinch, the Simple Soaker could even be used for backyard fun, all that would be required would be to add a nozzle in a place where the youngsters could dash through the spray without endangering flower beds or vegetables. It also has the advantage that older children would not be put off by its appearance. By substituting in decorative nozzles for the regular ones, it could even become an ornamentalsystem.

Practical, durable, economical, and even (potentially) fun, the Nelson 50180 Simple Soaker just needs a tiny bit of imagination to be do it (almost) all.

James G. Craig
 

James G. Craig is a gardening enthusiast who splits his spare time between growing vegetables, preening his flower gardens, and blogging about his experiences at the Gardener Corner.

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