Sprinklers can help keep your lawn healthy and your children entertained on hot summer days. “In many gardening regions, sprinklers are essential to ensure plants and lawns receive enough moisture to remain healthy during periods when rainfall is scarce,” says Debra Lagattuta, a master gardener and a member of The Spruce’s Gardening and Plant Care Review Board. She added, "However, be water-wise and check moisture levels first before turning on the sprinkler."
We researched dozens of sprinklers, evaluating them on functionality, durability, and ease of use. Our top pick, the Melnor 4500 sq. ft. Deluxe Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler, offers an adjustable spray pattern to distribute water evenly over a larger area.
Here are the best sprinklers for all types of lawns.
Best Overall: Melnor XT Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler with 2-Way Adjustment
Ensures even watering
Adjustable spray length and width
Includes a nozzle-cleaning tool
Motor resists clogging and puddling
Limited lifetime warranty
The Melnor XT Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler with 2-Way Adjustment is our best overall pick, due to its performance in even bigger outdoor spaces—this sprinkler has an oscillating head with 20 precision rubber nozzles, ensuring adequate water distribution to large lawns and gardens up to 4,500 square feet, just slightly smaller than a basketball court. Twin touch controls allow you to adjust the width and the length of the spray pattern (20 to 50 feet) and the width (10 to 20 feet). Even with the water on the highest pressure, the sprinkler’s broad base and sturdy design keep it securely in place. It has a quick-connect system, which makes it a snap to hook up to a water source.
Thanks to a turbo drive motor, this sprinkler runs smoothly and resists clogging and puddling. Another handy feature is the nozzle-cleaning tool, which eliminates any blockages that might occur. The internal design keeps water out of the turbo drive motor, which in turn prevents impurities from damaging smaller parts. For that reason, it’s also a great choice for homeowners with wells that may have grit present. Made from heavy-duty plastic, this sprinkler is durably constructed and backed with a lifetime warranty. At just 1.5 pounds, it’s lightweight enough to easily move around a yard.
Best Budget: Gilmour 8-Pattern Stationary Sprinkler
Easy to use
8 spray patterns
Contains no moving parts that can break
Designed to work with low water pressure
Not ideal for covering a large area
If you’re on a budget and don’t have a large area to water, the Gilmour 8-Pattern Stationary Sprinkler is a great choice. It offers eight patterns, which means it’s versatile enough to water different shaped areas of a yard or garden. Thanks to a durable metal base, it remains stable on the ground and should provide years of reliable use. Like most stationary sprinklers, it doesn’t contain rotating or moving parts, so there’s less of a chance of anything breaking. However, it’s still backed by a lifetime warranty to guarantee customer satisfaction.
This sprinkler is very simple to use. The preset patterns can be adjusted with an easy-to-set dial. Each pattern creates a different shape so you can fine-tune the coverage area to suit your specific needs. Considering the extremely low price, it’s no big surprise that this sprinkler has its limitations. It’s designed to operate with low water pressure, making it best suited for small lawns and gardens. If you have a larger-sized yard, you should opt for a more powerful option.
Best for Small Lawns: Gilmour 887613-1001 Sprinkler
Ideal for small lawns
Durable metal construction
Works well in low-water-pressure areas
Tends to tip over easily
May need to be secured with a stake
With a 30 x 30-square-foot pattern, this sprinkler from Gilmour is a great option for small lawns. Made of heavy-duty metal, it is built to last and withstand the elements. But this sprinkler is incredibly lightweight, so it’s easy to move around. That can be a disadvantage because the force from the hose causes it to tip over. To prevent that from happening, users suggest staking it into the ground so it stays put.
Note that this sprinkler serves you well, as long as you use it in the right conditions. Its gentle, fountain-like spray is ideal for watering small areas and targeting trouble spots. It also works best in areas with low water pressure. If your water pressure is too forceful, the sprinkler may come right off the hose. This sprinkler also comes in a rectangular version, which covers an even smaller area–15 x 30 square feet.
Best for Large Yards: Orbit 58322 Traveling Sprinkler
Covers large lawns up to 13,500 square feet
3 speed settings
Durable, cast-iron construction
Automatic shut-off ramp
Pricer than other options
May get stuck in certain conditions
Featuring a rustproof, cast-iron body, this traveling sprinkler from Orbit is built to withstand outdoor use. It can cover an exceptionally large area–up to 13,500 square feet, about the size of an Olympic swimming pool. And by following a customized hose path, it can travel up to 200 square feet, ensuring that your entire lawn is adequately watered. Its adjustable spray arms can cover anywhere from 15 to 55 feet in diameter. We noted that the sprinkler can get stuck on sloped lawns and in muddy areas. If your yard isn’t entirely flat or grassy, you should monitor the sprinkler while it’s in use.
This sprinkler has three speeds–high, low, or neutral–so you can adjust the amount of water saturation to suit your lawn’s needs. At high speed, the unit travels approximately 37 feet per hour and delivers about .25 inch of water. You can also put it in neutral and use it as a stationary sprinkler. The ramp stop can automatically shut off the sprinkler at any location along the hose length, which means you don’t have to worry about wasting water. For added peace of mind, it’s backed by a two-year limited warranty.
Best for Gardens : Gardena ZoomMaxx Fully Adjustable Sprinkler
Ensures even and precise watering
Adjustable to water different sized areas
Solid and sturdy
Removable filter traps dirt
Some reports of leakage and breakage
Mixed reviews on customer service
With highly customizable spray patterns, the Gardena ZoomMaxx is ideal for watering gardens, narrow spaces, and irregularly shaped lawns. This oscillating sprinkler allows users to adjust the watering range and modify the water flow to various sized areas–from smaller vegetable and flower gardens to a larger expanse of lawn, or areas from 96 square feet to 2,400 square feet, about the size of a basketball half-court. Because it’s designed to provide precise watering, it prevents puddles and dry patches from occurring.
This unit’s weighted circular base keeps it stable and upright–even if you crank up the water pressure. A removable, washable filter stops dirt and debris from entering the sprinkler’s moving parts. Those are made from durable materials that are UV- and frost-proof, which means it should hold up in some of the toughest conditions. Featuring a quick-connect product adapter, this unit is simple to set up and adjust.
We found some reports of the sprinkler leaking or breaking within a short time. Although it’s backed by a 2-year warranty, some say they’ve had difficulty reaching customer service. (The company is based in Germany, which may complicate matters for U.S.-based customers.) Also note that the Zoom Maxx is pricier than most of our other picks, so there’s no need to splurge unless your yard requires customization.
Best for Kids: Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Pretty Petals Sprinkler Toy
Features 12 flower petals that squirt water
Promotes outdoor play and develops coordination
Provides fun for the whole family
Spray angle depends on water pressure
Featuring 12 colorful petals that each squirts streams of water, the Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Blossom is the perfect sprinkler for kids. Although the manufacturer's recommended age range is 3 to 6 years, children and adults of all ages seem to really enjoy it. In addition to keeping kids cool during the summer months, this sprinkler encourages outdoor activity and coordination. Constructed from durable plastic, this sprinkler is built to withstand rough play and outdoor use. Standing just 8 inches tall, it’s easy for small children to run through and jump over.
This sprinkler is very easy to install–all you need to do is attach it to a standard hose. The height of the spray depends on your hose and the amount of water pressure in your area. (We read some reports that say the water doesn’t go higher than a few inches, while others say it can go up to 4 or 5 feet.)
Best Pulsating: Rain Bird 25PJDAC Brass Impact Sprinkler
Adjustable pattern and radius
Not suitable for low water pressure areas
Could damage young lawns
The benefit of a pulsating sprinkler, such as the Rain Bird, is it can soak a yard thoroughly and efficiently—getting water all the way down to the roots. Made of high-quality materials, including brass, bronze, and stainless steel, this unit can do that for years. It offers full-circle coverage, and you can adjust the spray pattern from 20 to 360 degrees. Plus, it’s strong enough to cover up to 5,200 feet (larger than a basketball court), and you can adjust the spray distance from 20 to 41 feet. The spray arm emits a controlled stream, so you target the areas you want watered rather than your car or sidewalks.
It’s important to note that this sprinkler has a high gallonage output, so it’s not the best choice for areas with low water pressure: When water pressure drops, the hose tends to stop rotating. Also, because it emits a forceful spray, this sprinkler is best suited for grass that has firmly taken root; it could be too powerful for young lawns and freshly seeded ground. Featuring a male pipe thread connection, this sprinkler can be easily installed to risers.
Best with Timer : Rain Bird 32ETI Easy to Install In-Ground Automatic Sprinkler System Kit
Waters your lawn automatically
Offers precise coverage
Designed for do-it-yourself installation
Pricier than other options
Not ideal for large lawns
Must be installed within the ground
This built-in system is pricier than standard above-ground sprinklers, but you can’t beat the convenience of automatic watering or its precise coverage. The kit includes six sprinkler heads to evenly water all reaches of the yard. To fine-tune the coverage and conserve water, 12 extra nozzle heads are also provided. The included automatic timer allows users to pre-set specific watering schedules; that way, you can be sure each part of your lawn receives just the right amount of water. Depending on the water pressure in your area, this sprinkler covers anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet (about two thirds the size of a basketball court).
The kit includes all the tubing and connecting parts, but you need three additional tools to install it: a half-blade shovel or half-moon edger; measuring tape; and garden shears or a tubing cutter along with AA batteries. Installation should be fairly simple for a do-it-yourselfer, but set aside an afternoon to get the job done.
Best Smart: Rachio 3 8-Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller
Excellent weather-syncing functions
Intuitive app-based controls
Waterproofing requires an outside mounting kit
Requires an existing irrigation system
If you have an existing irrigation system, the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller ensures your lawn receives the right amount of water to keep it healthy. Once you download the intuitive app, you can monitor your water usage and set up watering schedules. You also can tailor the schedule based on your lawn’s specific needs by entering the grass type, soil type, and the amount of sun exposure a particular area receives. What’s more, the Rachio app integrates with local weather stations and offers rain, freeze, and wind-skip functions, based on the current conditions. For added convenience, you can sync the app to other smart home systems such as Alexa and Google Home.
This unit controls up to eight zones, and it’s also available in a 16-zone version. Note that the panel isn’t water-resistant, which isn’t a problem as long as you mount it indoors. However, if you intend to place the panel outside, you need to invest in a waterproof installation box. Although installation tends to be fairly easy, it may take longer than Rachio’s 30-minute promise.
The Melnor 4500 sq. ft. Deluxe Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler is our top pick thanks to its adjustable spray length and width, handy nozzle cleaning tool, and limited lifetime warranty. Those looking for a budget option should check out the Gilmour 8-Pattern Stationary Sprinkler. While it's not great at covering a large area, it's designed to work with low water pressure, which makes it good for small gardens, and it's less likely to break because it has no moving parts.
What to Look for in a Sprinkler
For lawns up to 4,000 square feet, a model suited for small yards—like a fixed sprinkler—will be sufficient. For lawns up to 10,000 square feet, select something a little more powerful, like an oscillating or rotating sprinkler. One with a turbo motor feature or multiple movable heads will add an extra boost.
Look for models with a sturdy metal connection to prevent clogs, leaks, and protect against everyday wear and tear. Check to be sure the connection between the hose and sprinkler includes a hose washer.
If your area has water restrictions or if you travel frequently, look for models with automatic timers or irrigation systems. Flow timers and automatic shutoff valves earn extra points for convenience. Adjustable heads and sprinklers that allow you to set a pattern can help with some of the hard to reach places in your yard.
How long should you run sprinklers?
How long to run your sprinkler will depend on several factors. How large an area are you watering, what type of plants are you watering and what type of sprinkler are you using? An oscillating sprinkler, one that moves in a back and forth motion will deliver more water to a small area. A rotating sprinkler that spins in a circle or other pattern can cover a larger area. You can use a moisture meter to check for sufficient water in the soil or just stick your index finger in to the first knuckle. If your finger comes back dry, you need more water.
According to master gardener Debbie LaGattuta, you should “run a sprinkler until at least one inch of water (or more) has been applied to the area, which might take one to two hours.”
How long should you run sprinklers after fertilizing?
After applying fertilizer, you should wait at least 24 hours before watering your lawn. After this period, you want to water your lawn with 1-2 inches over the course of the week. How long this will take to achieve depends on the size of your lawn and the effectiveness of your sprinkler. “Run the sprinkler for at least an hour after fertilizing to ensure the fertilizer gets absorbed into the soil,” says Debra Lagattuta, a master gardener based in New Jersey.
How do sprinklers work?
Sprinklers require a water source usually from a hose attached to an outdoor faucet. Water pressure from the faucet is the element that moves most sprinklers. There are some heavy duty models such as the Melnor 4500 sq. ft. Deluxe Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler that include a turbo driven motor to boost the pressure and increase the delivery area.
How do you blow out sprinklers?
A single unit sprinkler does not need to be blown out. Just run water through it at a fairly strong pressure level. Keep your single unit sprinkler free of mud, dirt and accumulating leaves and twigs. If multiple sprinklers are used as part of an irrigation system, the entire system can be blown out using an air compressor. A number of home maintenance businesses offer this service.
Why Trust the Spruce?
Sage McHugh specializes in the home and garden sector and has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. For this roundup, she considered dozens of sprinklers, carefully evaluating each model’s functionality, durability, and ease of use. She also took hundreds of customer reviews and write-ups from third-party websites into account. Additional insight was provided by Debra Lagattuta, a master gardener and a member of The Spruce’s Gardening and Plant Care Review Board.