Which Type of Sprinkler Should I Use on My Lawn?

Well, you finally did it. If you are asking this question you are either renting a house with a lawn for the kids to play in, or you bought your first home and you now have that lawn you always dreamed of. When we think of maintaining our lawn often mowing is the first thing that comes to mind, but watering should be just as high of a priority. If your yard comes with an automatic sprinkler system then you are in luck and don’t need to worry about how to most efficiently water it. However, if you bought an older home, chances are it may not have an automatic system installed.

Sprinkler Head Selection

So do you run down to Home Depot or Lowe’s to buy hoses and sprinkler heads? If so may find yourself standing in the aisle looking at the different sprinklers and asking, “Which one do I choose to water my lawn?” The variety of the choices can be overwhelming to say the least.

I am no expert when it comes to sprinklers, but I do understand enough about different sprinkler heads and systems to give a good idea on what would be the best for varying sizes of lawns.

First, you have to look at the size of lawn you have, and how much time you have to devote to watering. For a lawn that it is no more than 3000 square feet a fountain head type sprinkler would be the best choice. You would need to water 30 to 40 minutes on each section of your lawn three times a week. If the lawn is 5,000-7,000 square feet, or larger, a gear driven or the old style rain bird sprinklers would work. And you would want to water 40 to 60 minutes three times per week.

Now you may be asking, “Why does the time change with the sprinkle head you use?” Well, the amount of coverage per square foot is the main factor. The fountain sprinkler covers up to 30 foot circle, and waters the whole area in that circle with an overlap to where the sprinkler will water next. So, you get the needed amount of water in less time. The gear driven and rain bird head cover a larger square footage and have to be adjusted to cover larger areas.

Each type of sprinkler head also affects how many times you are going to need to go out and move the sprinkler. It is important to measure the output of the sprinkler to see how much water the lawn is getting. 30 minutes with one type of head may be sufficient, while with a different type you may finding yourself needing to water twice as long.


If you decide that you’re done with your hose-dragging days, there is always the option of having an automatic sprinkler system installed. Sprinkler systems can vary quite substantially in cost, but most companies are happy to give you a free estimate. Besides the cost of the initial install, other maintenance costs that will need to be considered are backflow testing, having your system blown out in the winter to prevent freezing and costly damage, and a start-up in the spring to have the heads inspected and adjusted. There will also be heads, nozzles, etc. that need replaced from time to time. Most homeowners consider the time-saving nature and watering efficiency of an automatic system worth the investment, but it is always nice to be aware of ongoing costs upfront. Whether you are watering by hand, or enjoying the benefit of an automatic system, we wish you a green and healthy lawn this upcoming season!