Along with providing summertime fun, a sprinkler is an essential tool for maintaining a healthy lawn and garden. While traditional sprinklers must be moved manually to ensure an even distribution of water, more advanced models can be programmed to water and move around your yard automatically. “A good sprinkler can be the key to having a beautiful, lush yard to relax in without a lot of time spent hand watering,” says Liz Will, a master gardener, garden coach, and author of the blog Learn To Grow Gardens.
Whether you choose a sprinkler with advanced features or a manual option, you’ll want to pick the right fit for your space and needs. We spent hours researching the best sprinklers on the market, evaluating products based on their type, material, coverage area, water consumption, and overall performance. Here are the top-rated sprinklers in a variety of categories to keep your yard and garden looking great.
Melnor XT Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler with 2-Way Adjustment
Adjustable spray length and width
Includes a nozzle-cleaning tool
Motor resists clogging and puddling
Limited lifetime warranty
Some reports of early breakdowns
Not as durable as metal options
With impressive range, adjustability, and a durable build, the Melnor XT Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler earns the top spot in our roundup. With 20 rubber nozzles, it ensures adequate water distribution to large lawns and gardens up to 4,200 square feet. We love how you can really customize the sprinkler’s range to the size of your yard, with controls that adjust the length of the spray pattern from 20 to almost 50 feet, as well as the width, from about 10 to 20 feet. Plus, you don’t even have to remember to turn it off and on: For added convenience, a built-in timer allows you to set up an automatic watering schedule for almost effortless operation.
A turbo drive motor keeps this sprinkler running smoothly while resisting clogs and puddles. It also comes with a nozzle-cleaning tool, which helps to prevent any blockages that might occur. Installation is easy thanks to a quick-connect system, which makes it a cinch to hook up to a water source. At just over a pound, this sprinkler is lightweight enough to easily move around a yard.
The Melnor XT is made of heavy-duty plastic, and its broad base prevents it from tipping or wobbling. That said, the all-plastic construction might not quite be as durable as metal offerings. We read some reports of broken parts, while others say the sprinkler stopped working in a short amount of time. The good news is that this product is backed by a lifetime guarantee to ensure customer satisfaction.
Price at time of publish: $29
Dimensions: 3.46 x 17.2 x 6.65 inches︱Type: Oscillating︱Material: Plastic︱Coverage Area: Up to 4,200 square feet
Gilmour 808763-1001 Circular Sprinkler, 30'
For help in watering your small yard or garden—up to 30 feet in diameter—we love the Gilmore Circular Sprinkler. Measuring just about 6 inches wide, 5 inches long, and less than 2 inches tall, this compact unit can be placed in hard-to-reach areas that a bigger sprinkler might miss. Although at this budget-friendly price, you won’t get extra features, we love its simple design: simply adjust it by increasing or decreasing the water flow from the spigot. Users say the sprinkler works best with low water pressure; it tends to tilt or become unstable at higher pressures. To help keep it stable, you could insert a nail or stake into the hole at the top when using high water pressure.
The heavy-duty metal construction ensures years of reliable use, and it’s backed by a lifetime warranty for added peace of mind. This sprinkler produces a gentle, fountain-like spray that’s perfect for spot-watering small areas such as landscaped beds, rock gardens, and newly seeded patches. If you have a larger yard, however, you should opt for a more powerful option.
Price at time of publish: $18 (2-pack)
Dimensions: 1.5 x 4.8 x 5.8 inches︱Type: Stationary︱Material: Metal︱Coverage Area: Up to 30 feet in diameter
Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller
Excellent weather-syncing functions
Highly customizable features
Reduces unnecessary water waste
Intuitive app-based controls
Requires an existing irrigation system
Requires a weatherproof enclosure if mounted outdoors
Some reports of WiFi connectivity issues
The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller is an almost effortless way to control your lawn’s watering needs. Equipped with patented weather technology, this smart sprinkler system will automatically adjust for rain, wind, and freezes–ensuring that your lawn receives the right amount of water, regardless of the weather conditions. Thanks to an intuitive app, you can easily set up watering schedules and monitor your water usage. You can further customize the schedules by entering the grass type, soil type, and the amount of sun exposure a specific area needs. For added convenience, the app can be synced to other smart home systems such as Alexa and Google Home.
With this unit, you can set up to eight customized zones, and there is also a 16-zone version available. Note that the panel isn’t water-resistant, which won’t be a problem if you mount it indoors. However, you will need to purchase a weatherproof enclosure if you install the panel outdoors. It’s also important to note that the Rachio 3 requires an existing irrigation system, but it is compatible with most sprinkler controllers. We read some complaints about WiFi connectivity issues, which may be resolved with a hard reset.
Price at time of publish: $230
Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.4 x 5.6 inches︱Type: Smart sprinkler controller︱Material: Plastic︱Coverage Area: 8 zones
Aqua Joe SJI-OMS20 Oscillating Sprinkler
With an adjustable spray range and up to 4,400 square feet of coverage, the Aqua Joe Oscillating Sprinkler allows you to water different-sized areas—from narrower garden beds to wide expanses of lawn. The 20 plastic nozzles provide even water flow and precise coverage. This sprinkler connects to a standard garden hose, and its durable metal fittings provide a secure, leak-resistant connection. At just under two pounds, it’s lightweight and easy to maneuver around a yard.
Another noteworthy feature is a built-in cleaning tool, which helps to prevent clogs from occurring in the nozzles. (Just be sure to follow the instructions and lock the cleaning tool into place, otherwise, it might pop out during operation.) To further enhance its durability, this unit has an indestructible metal base that stands up to rugged outdoor use. However, we read some reports that say the sprinkler stopped within several months. The good news is that this product is backed by a two-year warranty to protect your investment.
Price at time of publish: $34
Dimensions: 17 x 6.5 x 3 inches︱Type: Oscillating︱Material: Metal︱Coverage Area: 4,400 square feet
Best for Large Lawns
Nelson Traveling Sprinkler RainTrain
Covers up to 13,500 square feet
3 speed settings
Durable, cast-iron construction
Automatic shut-off feature
May get stuck on hilly or muddy terrain
Automatic shut-off feature may be tricky to set up
The Nelson RainTrain can cover an exceptionally large area—up to 13,500 square feet—making it an excellent choice for large lawns. Following a customized hose path, this sprinkler can travel up to 200 feet, ensuring that your entire lawn is adequately watered. It has two aluminum spray arms, which can be adjusted to provide coverage from 15 feet to 55 feet in diameter. This sprinkler also offers three speed settings: a fast pace for lighter watering, a slower pace for heavier saturation, and neutral, which allows the sprinkler to continuously water a specific area. The customizable design makes it ideal for irregularly shaped yards.
Thanks to an automatic shut-off ramp (set up where you want the sprinkler and water to stop), you don’t have to worry about wasting water. However, we have read reports that the ramp can be tricky to set up, so you'll want to make sure you follow the instructions closely. Featuring a cast iron body and chip-resistant paint, this sprinkler is built to withstand the elements. The only downside is that it tends to get stuck on hilly or muddy terrain. If your yard isn’t entirely flat or grassy, you should monitor the sprinkler while it’s in use. The Nelson RainTrain is pricier than most of our other picks, but it provides superior coverage.
Price at time of publish: $69
Dimensions: 20.13 x 9.38 x 8.13 inches︱Type: Traveling︱Materials: Plastic, metal︱Coverage Area: 13,500 square feet.
Best for Flower Beds
Flantor Drip Irrigation Kit
Waters different types of plants at once
Customizable and versatile design
Designed for do-it-yourself installation
Doesn’t include a timer
Water pressure may be weak
This irrigation kit allows you to water different types of plants all at once, making it an excellent choice for gardens. Each nozzle can be adjusted individually to suit the watering needs of specific plants. With two installation methods to best suit your garden layout, this system can be staked into the ground or suspended above your plants. You also have the option to weaken the water flow, creating a fine mist that’s ideal for some plants—reducing water waste and saving you money at the same time. However, we read a few complaints that say the water pressure is too low.
Most users say this kit is easy to install, though the instructions might not be as clear as desired. You can cut the 1/4 inch tubing according to your liking, then attach the tubing and connecting parts, which are all included. Once the system is installed, all you need to do is turn on the tap as needed. Note that it doesn’t include a timer or automatic shutoff valve, so it will need to be monitored while in use.
Price at time of publish: $29
Dimensions: 3.94 x 3.94 x 1.97 inches︱Type: Drip irrigation︱Material: Not listed︱Coverage Area: Up to 25 square meters (269 square feet)
Melnor Multi-Adjustable Sprinkler
Adjustable to water plants of different heights
Quick and easy to install
Can connect multiple sets to cover larger areas
Doesn’t include a timer
Not as durable as metal options
The Melnor Multi-Adjustable Sprinkler is a five-piece sprinkler system that is staked into the ground, providing water right where you need it. The five spikes are adjustable and they come with 5-inch risers, so you can increase their elevation to water plants and flowers of various heights. Each sprinkler also features an adjustable head, allowing you to customize the angle, distance, and direction of each spray. This set doesn’t include a timer, but you can purchase one at an additional cost for more convenient operation.
Users say these spikes are easy to push into the ground, plus they’re durably designed to stand up to frequent outdoor use. Note that this set is made of plastic, which isn’t quite as durable as metal options, so you’ll want to make sure it’s in an area where it won’t get trampled. Thanks to a male and a female hose-attachment end, all of the sprinklers can be connected via hoses. If you have a large or irregularly shaped garden, you may need multiple sets for adequate coverage. Though more costly, you will save you a significant amount of watering time by not having to constantly reposition a sprinkler.
Dimensions: 9.84 x 2.36 x 4.25 inches︱Type: In-ground︱Material: Plastic︱Coverage Area: Up to 30 feet diameter (per spike)
Price at time of publish: $21 (5-pack)
The Melnor XT Oscillating Sprinkler with Flow Control is our top pick thanks to its adjustable spray length and width, versatile coverage area, and reliable operation. It features a zoom control that gives you the flexibility to water a newly seeded patch or an entire lawn. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, consider the Gilmour 808763-1001 Circular Sprinkler. While it’s not for larger areas, this sprinkler is a great choice for smaller lawns and garden nooks, and it works well with low water pressure.
What to Look for in a Sprinkler
Sprinklers can be classified into five main categories, ranging from stationary models to traveling versions. When shopping for a sprinkler, it’s important to consider your specific watering needs. Some sprinklers are better suited for small nooks and garden beds, while others are designed to cover a large lawn.
- Fixed or stationary sprinklers remain in one place and spray water over the same area until they are repositioned manually. These types of sprinklers attach to a garden hose and typically cover a radius of 5 to 15 feet, making them a good choice for small lawns and gardens.
- Oscillating sprinklers usually feature multiple nozzles to dispense water in a semicircular pattern. The sprinkler head moves in a back-and-forth motion, creating a wider water fan that covers a larger area.
- Rotating (or rotary) sprinklers typically have two arms or more that spin 360 degrees, distributing water in a circular pattern. Impact sprinklers also provide a full 360 rotation, but they are designed a bit differently: Water is emitted from a single jet, which creates more force and often goes farthest in range when compared to other sprinkler types.
- Traveling sprinklers follow a customized hose path, watering the grass as they move around your yard. These types of sprinklers are ideal for covering very large areas. Our top pick in this category, the Nelson RainTrain Traveling Sprinkler, can cover up to 13,500 square feet.
- In-ground sprinkler systems automatically water your yard and operate on a set schedule. Simpler in-ground options simply need to be staked into the ground while others require more advanced installation, such as digging trenches for water lines. An in-ground sprinkler has to be connected to the water main, and programmed to water the lawn at preset times. Smart sprinkler controllers allow you to program the watering schedule via a smart device.
Most sprinklers are made of plastic or metal, or a combination of the two. As a general rule of thumb, metal sprinklers tend to be a bit more durable than plastic. However, that isn’t always the case because the quality of the metal varies. When it comes to durability, rust-proof chrome and stainless steel are your best options, according to experts. Our best budget pick, the Gilmour 808763-1001 Circular Sprinkler, features long-wearing metal construction for optimal durability.
Heavy-duty plastic is also a solid option, being both sturdy and weather-resistant. Just note that cheaper plastics may be thinner, and more likely to fade or disintegrate within a season or two.
A stationary sprinkler will be sufficient for small, regularly shaped lawns up to 4,000 square feet. For lawns up to 10,000 square feet, you should opt for something more powerful, like an oscillating or rotating sprinkler. For an extra boost, look for a sprinkler with a turbo motor or or multiple movable heads. Our top pick for an oscillating sprinkler, the Aqua Joe SJI-OMS20, has 20 nozzles for precise coverage and it’s lightweight enough to easily move around a yard.
Water consumption can be determined by the diameter of your garden hose and its water pressure, which is measured in pounds per square inch (psi). If the hose is a 1/2 inch in diameter and you have a water pressure of 60 psi, you will use approximately 630 gallons per hour of watering. If your garden hose is larger in diameter, it will consume more water. For example, a 5/8-inch hose will use approximately 1,020 gallons at the same water pressure (60 psi).
Some sprinklers are equipped with features to reduce water consumption. A built-in timer allows users to set a precise watering schedule, while an automatic shutoff prevents overwatering. A smart sprinkler controller will allow you to monitor water usage and set up a specific watering schedule. Our top choice in this category, Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller, syncs with local weather stations and offers rain, freeze, and wind-skip functions, preventing unnecessary watering during wet conditions.
Many sprinklers allow you to adjust the spray pattern as well as its distance. The more versatile the configuration, the more watering tasks you can perform with one tool. For example, if you have the option to create multiple patterns, such as circular, rectangular, triangular, and fan-shaped, you can water lawns and gardens of various shapes and sizes. Our best overall pick, the Melnor XT Oscillating Sprinkler with Flow Control, allows you to adjust the spray length and width, as well as the overall coverage area, making it one of the most versatile options in our roundup.
The water pressure in your hose will ultimately determine how far a sprinkler can spray. If you have weak water pressure in your area, the coverage area could be significantly less than advertised. Residential water generally ranges from 30 to 60 pounds per square inch (psi), and most sprinklers require a minimum of 30 psi of water pressure to operate properly. However, some models will require a higher psi to reach their maximum coverage area.
What is the most effective type of sprinkler?
According to Liz Will, a master gardener and garden coach, pulsating sprinklers tend to be the most effective. “These sprinklers send out a jet of water, rotating in a circular pattern,” she says. “They work well in large areas and are less likely to clog.”
Are high efficiency sprinklers worth it?
Will recommends making the effort to upgrade to a high-efficiency sprinkler. “They deliver less water, more efficiently, which is great for both your lawn and garden and your water bill,” she says. One downside to high efficiency sprinklers is that they take longer to run than traditional sprinklers, but Will says the reduced water usage more than makes up for it.
What is the best material for a sprinkler?
“Metal sprinklers are more durable than sprinklers made from plastic, but the type of metal is important as well,” says Will. Although she praises brass for its ability to resist corrosion, it’s not her top choice when it comes to material. “Overall, stainless steel or rust-proof chrome are the best metals for sprinklers and will last the longest,” she says.
Why Trust the Spruce?
This article was written by Sage McHugh, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce who specializes in the home and garden sector. When selecting the best sprinklers for this roundup, she considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating their type, material, coverage area, water consumption, and overall performance. McHugh also took hundreds of customer reviews, as well as write-ups from third-party websites into consideration. For expert insight on sprinklers, she interviewed Liz Will, a master gardener, garden coach, and author of the blog Learn To Grow Gardens.