Sprinkler Systems Buying Guide

Sprinkler systems play a crucial role in making sure your lawn is getting a sufficient amount of water. For most yards, an inch to perhaps 1.5 inches of water per week is usually sufficient to support vigorous grass growth during the hot months of summer. Though there are a few different ways you can do this.

If you are thinking about adding a sprinkler system or updating your current sprinkler system to something more modern, you might want to consider one of the following options.

Smart Sprinkler System Controllers

If you have a sprinkler system already installed in your home, often they have been around for years, quite outdated and inefficient causing you to water more than you should, or not enough. In the past few years, smart sprinkler systems have made tremendous strides in features, and ease of use. Gone are the days of trying to understand random switches and knobs to properly configure your system. You needed to have a PHD just to figure these things out. No more.To replace an older existing system controller is super easy. Just swap the existing wires, plug it in, and your ready to go. Connect your phone via the app, which allows you to name and even take pictures of each sprinkler zone in your yard. The easy step-by-step asks you the type of ground you are watering, number of sprinklers in the zone, and the area you live. Then, the system connects to the internet to know the weather patterns and climate conditions to only water your ground when it needs it, instead of overwatering on rainy days like the dumb systems have in the past. To start with, here are some of our top choices for smart sprinkler system controller units.

An Underground Sprinkler System

As the name implies, an underground sprinkler system is permanently installed beneath the surface of your lawn. The water is then delivered to parts of your lawn via a buried pipe. Sprinkler heads are positioned below the surface of your lawn and pop up when water pressure is delivered to them to cover a specific area.

There are different sprinkler heads with different spraying patterns. Some systems let you pick and choose different sprinkler heads to customize the areas that are being watered.

A lot of underground sprinkler systems are able to spray large amounts of water, which makes them a good option for large lawns or gardens. Since most of the sprinkler system is underground, or flush with the surface of the turf, you can easily mow or landscape your lawn without disrupting your irrigation system.

However, underground sprinkler systems do tend to cost more. This is reflected in both the cost of the components and piping, as well as the cost it takes to install them. Most homeowners don’t have the skills and training to install an underground lawn sprinkler system themselves and will often turn to professionals to handle the initial installation. Though this too increases the overall final cost.

Drip Irrigation Systems

Drip lawn irrigation systems tend to use water more efficiently. They employ a series of distribution tubing that delivers water directly to the root zone of the turf.

What makes this system so efficient is the way drip lawn irrigation dribbles water in specific places only. They’re great for hard-to-reach areas and provide precise watering. A drip irrigation system tends to be best for smaller yards, well-mulched areas, or lawns with complex landscaping features that include a lot of planting beds.

However, drip irrigation systems are used above ground, and while this makes them easier to install than underground sprinkler systems, it also means they need to be moved out of the way before you mow your grass. They can also become damaged by yard rodents during a drought who will sometimes chew holes in a water line to get a drink.

Hose Sprinklers

While they might be considered to be a bit old-fashioned hose sprinkler systems are nonetheless effective and often inexpensive. Of them, there are a few popular options to consider.

Oscillating Sprinklers

An oscillating sprinkler does a good job of providing a wide-reaching spray of water in a waterfall-like pattern. They are lightweight and easy to move. You can usually get a high-quality oscillating sprinkler for $25 to $30.

Most oscillating sprinklers feature a long barrel or tube-like structure with several nozzles along the length. This is where the water shoots out from. As the barrel moves in rotator motion to make sure the entire lawn is watered properly.

The way they move back and forth tends to create a rectangular coverage shape. Most have a dial that lets you customize how far the sprinkler sprays as well as a flow regulator which limits the total volume of water. By carefully adjusting them you can get custom coverage. This is one of the commonly found sprinkler types being used by American lawn owners.

Here again, you are dealing with a hose that needs to be moved before mowing. However, you can usually move the sprinkler from one location to the next simply by pulling on the hose that is feeding it water. The screw-on connection will hold tightly.

When shopping for an oscillating sprinkler, make sure you choose something that is easy when it comes to using proper controls for the length and width.

Oscillating sprinklers tend to last only one to two years. So don’t be surprised if you have to buy a new one each spring. They also tend to sell out quickly, so be prepared to purchase one in early spring while retailers still have them in stock. Even if you don’t end up using it for a month or two.

Impact Sprinklers

An impact sprinkler uses water pressure to produce a powerful stream of water that projects in a semi-circular pattern. It also makes a distinctive classic clicking sound that evokes memories of childhood running away from the sprinkler.

The spray these sprinklers create comes from the impact the stream makes on the sprinkler head components. This means that you need to have good water pressure to make an impact sprinkler work correctly. If you are using multiple hoses, have leaks at multiple connections, or running the water at great length decreased water pressure could cause it to dribble rather than spray. This will also limit the circular pattern the impact sprinkler is engineered to make.

When it has sufficient pressure an impact sprinkler is relatively resistant to wind transitions and helps cover a big distance if you happen to have a large lawn. Just bear in mind that adjusting the impact sprinklers can be a little bit complicated, and you are likely to get wet a few times while getting it targeted just right.

The mounting for an impact sprinkler is also a factor. A sprinkler head attached to a simple spike driven into the lawn is relatively inexpensive. Though it’s annoying to move and can be fouled by long grass that gets in the way of the impact sprinkler’s moving parts.

A slightly more expensive option is to mount an impact sprinkler on a stand. Then you simply drag the stand where you want it to be. This is much easier to set up and is less likely to be fouled by the surrounding grass.

      Best Lawn Mower Reviews, Ratings & More