Selecting and Properly Using Water Sprinklers

Rotary Sprinkler (Courtesy: Daniel Oines at

Rotary Sprinkler
(Courtesy: Daniel Oines at

There are a number of methods of irrigating your lawn. The most popular is using a hose-end sprinkler.

Stationary Sprinkler (Courtesy: Internet Archive Image at

Stationary Sprinkler
(Courtesy: Internet Archive Image at

Studies have shown that the average lawn care enthusiast will apply 2-1/2 times the amount of water required when using a hose-end sprinkler.

In order to use this type of irrigation properly, you need to take time to select the proper water sprinkler for your needs and then use that sprinkler correctly so that you’re applying the proper amount of water to your lawn.

Selecting a Water Sprinkler

There are six popular style hose-end water sprinklers from which to choose –- rotary or pulse, traveling, whirling-head, stationary, oscillating, and soaker-hose.

Each sprinkler applies the water in a different way. So your first chore when selecting a sprinkler is to determine how you will use it.

Rotary or pulse water sprinklers are designed to cover a large area and to shoot out the water in a pulsating manner. Some of these sprinklers feature an adjustable screw or paddle that breaks up the water stream and sprays the water in distinct patterns. It can be set to water partial circles and distributes water best in an overlapping triangular pattern.

Traveling Sprinkler (Courtesy: Nick at

Traveling Sprinkler
(Courtesy: Nick at

Traveling water sprinklers spray water within a large area and the path of the spray is determined by its

placement. The sprinkler needs a level surface or ground to water properly and offers an overlapping pattern that evenly distributes the water. It can easily be maneuvered to spray large irregular shaped areas or lawn shapes. Wheel drive traveling sprinklers should not be used to water seeded lawns because soft soil conditions can occur and the sprinkler will get stuck.

Oscillating Sprinkler (Courtesy: Gardena Worldwide at

Oscillating Sprinkler
(Courtesy: Gardena Worldwide at

Whirling-head water sprinklers are ideal for watering tight locations because their spray covers portions of the lawn that is nearest to the head. The sprinkler offers a lot of water in a short period of time and requires frequent movement or re-positioning.

A stationary sprinkler is designed for spot-watering tight areas. It distributes the water in an irregular pattern even with overlapping moves. It shouldn’t be used to water large areas uniformly. It offers a large amount of water in a short period of time and requires frequent movement or repositioning.

An oscillating sprinkler is best for watering a small area. It delivers water near the head in a rectangular pattern. It is not ideal for achieving an even watering pattern or applying water in large areas. It can be adjusted to water smaller rectangular areas and other tight locations.

A soaker-hose sprinkler features a fine spray of water from a flat pin-holed hose spray. It needs to be repositioned several times to water a medium-sized area. The water is delivered slowly so it is ideal for watering hard-to-wet areas. It can be maneuvered to water irregular and long tight areas along the house or walkway.

Applying the Proper Amount of Water

Once you have the right sprinkler, you need to determine how long to run it to achieve a proper watering. To determine this:

· Place tuna cans in a grid pattern around the sprinkler.
· Run the sprinkler using overlapping patterns for 45 minutes.
· Measure the depth of the water in the tuna cans with a ruler.
· Calculate proper watering times using this math example.

If the sprinkler delivers one-quarter inch of water in 45 minutes:

0.25 inch                X inches

_______   =       __________
45 minutes         60 minutes

0.25 inch x 60 minutes

_______________   =   0.33 inch per hours
45 minutes

Many soils will absorb about ½-inch of water per hour.

So if you want to apply 1-inch of water to your lawn per week, then you water the lawn for a total of three hours a week. If your sprinkler delivers more than a ½-inch of water per hour, then move it to the next area after a ½-inch of water have been applied. Use the tuna can to determine how much time must elapse for the can to receive ½-inch to determine when the sprinkler should be moved to the next area.

Lawn Watering Requirements

Here are the watering requirements for the most common species of grass.

Lawn Type                                       Green Turf(1)                         Dormant Turf(2)

Perennial ryegrass                                1.5″ per week                               1″ per week

Kentucky bluegrass                              1.2″ per week                               0.7″ per week

Tall fescue                                              0.8″ per week                              0.5″ per week

Zoysia or Bermuda                            0.5″ per week                              0.2″ per week

Buffalograss                                          0.3″ per week                              0.2″ per week

(1)Lawn remains green and growing
(2)Lawn may turn brown, but will not die

Soaker Hose Sprinkler (Courtesy: CallDGS at

Soaker Hose Sprinkler
(Courtesy: CallDGS at

About Robert Janis

Written by Robert Janis for LawnEq - Your specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable manufacturers.