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Just about anyone can remember running through the lawn sprinkler on a hot summer day. It's an activity enjoyed by kids everywhere, and sprinklers today include workhorse designs ready to keep your lawn and gardens lush and green all season long.
Most sprinklers operate by delivering water in either a rotating pattern or by an oscillating back and forth motion. Rotating arms, multiple adjustable heads and built-in features like timers and sensors are just a few of the convenient features available in some of the top sprinkler models available. We even found one designed especially for fun.
Here are the five best sprinklers for less work and more fun this summer.
Best Overall Sprinkler: Blisstime Lawn Sprinkler, Rotary Three Arm
Lawns come in all shapes and sizes. For the best overall pick, this sprinkler needs to be able to adapt to changing curves and dimensions that exist between different front and backyards. The Webram Lawn sprinkler is a budget friendly option that uses the standard circular, rotating spray pattern that is effective for small to medium lawns.
The sprinkler features twelve individual nozzles mounted on three rotating arms. You can individually adjust the nozzles and arms to change the spray angle, giving you an almost infinite amount of fine control over the pattern. Larger angles will let you cover more area without creating any dead spots in the pattern. The rotating nozzles will also make sure water is distributed evenly within the coverage area.
Best Pulsating Sprinkler: Melnor 9550C Pulsating Sprinkler on Metal Spike
Pulsating or impact sprinklers are the type of sprinkler you need when range is important. To toss water extra far, sprinklers like the Melnor 9550C use a small, paddle mechanism to project the water as it exits the nozzle. Rotating on a sturdy, metal spike, the nozzle can launch water up to 85 feet in a circular pattern.
The rotation of the nozzle is adjustable from a narrow 30 degrees all the way to a full 360 degree circle. The spike cuts into the ground for extra stability without tearing up your yard as you move the sprinkler around to cover different areas. The spike is made of die-cast zinc so you can drive it into hard soils without much effort.
Best Oscillating Sprinkler: Melnor 4500 sq. ft. Deluxe Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler
For traditional rectangular or square yards, rotating sprinklers aren’t as efficient to cover all of the grass without wasting a lot of water. Circular patterns create a lot of overlap as you move the sprinkler around, meaning you will probably end up watering the sidewalk, driveway, or patio along the way. Oscillating sprinklers like Melnor’s 4000 Deluxe prevent this from happening by creating an efficient angular spray pattern.
In total, 18 clog-resistant nozzles spray water back and forth to cover up to 4000 square feet. The back and forth motion of the sprinkler distributes water evenly over a large surface area without wasting additional water. Internally, the sprinkler is also designed to separate the water from the turbo drive motor so small parts aren’t damaged from impurities.
Best Stationary Sprinkler: Gilmour 8-Pattern Stationary Sprinkler
A stationary sprinkler is one of the most reliable and flexible options you can buy, especially if you don’t have a larger yard to cover. Without any rotating, moving parts, a stationary sprinkler directs water without the risk of something breaking. The Gilmour 1-225 takes the top spot in this category for the plethora of spray options it provides.
Much like a showerhead, the sprinkler comes with 8 pre-set spray patterns you can select with a simple twist of the nozzle base. Each pattern creates a different shape so you can fine tune the coverage area while moving the sprinkler around. The sprinkler is designed to operate at low pressures as well to reduce the amount of water you need to cover the whole lawn.
Best Kids Sprinkler: Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Pretty Petals Sprinkler Toy
Kids are meant to be outside when the weather is warm. Since they are naturally attracted to the sight of water springing out over a lawn, it can be nice to have a sprinkler meant for them. The Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Blossom amps up the summer with a colorful, playful floral design. Several streams of water spring out of each flower, creating a large spray area that kids can run through or stand in to cool off during the heat.
Durable plastic nozzles and a base will handle the typical amount of force children can dish out during regular play. The body and hose connector are also strong enough to survive bites and scratches from small wildlife or family pets.
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. 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.
How do you winterize sprinklers?
Prepare your sprinkler for winter storage the same way you prepare hoses. Make sure the parts are clean and free of dirt and debris and then drain all the water out. A basic sprinkler can be shaken out and dried off. Remove the hose washer and store it and the sprinkler separately in the garage or outdoor shed. For sprinklers with motorized or sensitive parts like timers, refer to manufacturers instructions for care and maintenance.
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
Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener and herbalist. She works with honeybees and other pollinators to grow organic fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs on her 8-acre hobby farm.