How to Choose the Right Sprinkler Heads

The right types of sprinkler heads and arranging them the right way can help you grow a beautiful, lush yard

Sprinkler Heads

Proper arrangement of sprinkler heads is the key to a lush, healthy lawn. While water pressure, frequency of watering and watering times all play important roles, the most crucial component is ensuring even coverage. This guide will teach you the different types of sprinkler heads so you can understand the distinct patterns.

Types of Sprinkler Heads


Choose between rotary heads, spray heads, bubblers and more to personalize your irrigation coverage.

Head Design Description Usage

Fixed Spray

  • Produce a tight, constant fan of water
  • Fan out in a span of 5'-15'
  • Small lawns
  • Shrubs
  • Ground cover

Flood/Bubbler

  • Produce a flow of water that soaks soil to reach the root
    zone, dispersing water in a small area 5' wide or less
  • Tree wells
  • Planters
  • Shrubs

Gear Driven

  • Smooth, quietly operating heads that often feature
    adjustable patterns
  • Medium lawns
  • Large lawns
  • Side lawns

Multiple Stream

  • Produce thin streams of water that slowly rotate in an
    18'-27' span
  • Medium lawns
  • Ground cover
  • Slopes and uneven
    ground

Pop-Up

  • Pop up above grass when activated and disappear below ground when not in use
  • Provide even water distribution and low spray angle
  • Small lawns
  • Medium lawns
  • Large lawns
  • Side lawns
  • Gardens

Rotary

  • Deliver a single stream of water that rotates in a circle
  • Apply water more slowly than spray designs
  • Medium lawns
  • Large lawns
  • Side lawns

Shrub

  • Mounted above foliage on risers, or extensions
  • Special pattern nozzles provide flexibility
  • Ground cover
  • Planters
  • Shrubs
  • Gardens


Installation Considerations


Generally, sprinklers are laid out in a triangular or square pattern to ensure overlap, or head-to-head coverage. The amount of water that the yard receives from a sprinkler stream lessens the farther it goes out, so overlapping the streams is necessary to provide even coverage for all parts of the lawn.

Tip: When choosing your sprinkler heads, identify oddly shaped areas and borders as well as sections that may need less water than others (for example, shrubs and trees require less water than grass and flowers).

It's easier to adjust heads to reduce spray distance than it is to dig them out and reinstall them if spray falls short, so err on the side of caution and keep them close. Different types of sprinklers have different flow rates, so install only one kind in a given zone.

  • Avoid installing sprinklers that spray trees directly, as water streams may damage bark.
  • Adjust patterns to avoid sidewalks, driveways and other areas you don't want to water.
  • Square patterns are best for clearly defined yards.
  • Triangle patterns are ideal for irregularly shaped yards.


Features


Different types of sprinkler heads come with various features, such as spring retraction, drip irrigation or the ability to water in a special pattern.

  • Special Patterns: When you need to irrigate small ground cover areas, narrow beds and compacted, slow-absorbing soils, utilize micro spray heads that provide patterns and flow rates suited for these purposes.
  • Spring Retraction: Sprinklers with this feature ensure that pop-up sprinklers return to their underground position automatically as soon as they finish their cycle, rather than relying on gravity to do the work.
  • Wiper Seal: This feature prevents leaks and helps ensure proper retraction for pop-up sprinkler heads.
  • Drip Irrigation: In areas of your yard that conventional sprinkler heads can't quite get to or may prove too powerful for, such as hanging shrubs or delicate gardens, install a drip irrigation system. Drip systems provide slow, steady water in hard-to-reach places without damaging plants and flowers.
  • Spray Patterns: Similar to different spray patterns in shower heads, spray patterns in shower heads deliver water at different intensities. Choose from patterns such as rain, mist, or flood.
  • Sprinkler Head Spray Pattern: The spray pattern is the area that a sprinkler can cover. So a full-circle sprinkler head distributes water in a circle, with the sprinkler head in the center. A 0.50-circle sprinkler head distributes water in a half-circle shape, while a 0.25 circle and 0.75 circle spray water in a quarter-circle or 3/4 circle shape, respectively. Some sprinkler heads have adjustable spray patterns so you can personalize the water distribution pattern to fit your yard's needs.