Take these tips from the experts, and learn about what sprinkler is best for your yard.
Pick the Best Sprinkler
Credit: Van Chaplin

I won't lie to you. I hate watering. Perhaps if plants would say, "Muchas gracias,"or grow in a pattern that reads, "We love you, Steve," I'd feel better about it. Fortunately, sprinklers can water for us. But which kind should you buy? That depends on the area to be watered, how fussy you are, and how much you can spend. Let's examine some popular types.

Oscillating Sprinkler
This type consists of a plastic or metal tube that waves back and forth like a metronome. Models cost $10 to $30. The more you pay, the better you can fine-tune the spray pattern.

  • Pros―Does a fine job of watering rectangular areas, such as most lawns. Waters up to 4,000 square feet. Operates efficiently at both high and low water pressure.
  • Cons―Using an oscillator to water curved, rounded, or irregular areas means that a lot of water will miss the mark. Cheaper models linger at each end of the spray pattern, causing puddles.
  • Features to look for―At least 15 spray jets for more even coverage, models that move back and forth quickly to reduce puddling, and a metal filter in the hose connector to prevent clogging.

Pulsating Sprinkler
The rotating head atop this kind projects a pulsating jet of water that covers a circular area or just a portion of it. Cheaper models consist of a sprinkler head on a metal spike; they cost $7 to $8.

  • Pros―Capable of watering a very large area (nearly 10,000 square feet at high pressure). Really good for rounded, curved, or irregular-shaped spaces. Can be set to cover any size arc of a circular area. Waters slowly and gently, seldom causing puddles.
  • Cons―Noisier than other types. Doesn't work well under low pressure. Not the best type for watering rectangular areas.
  • Features to look for―Long-lasting zinc and brass sprinkler head, diffuser screw that allows you to adjust the fineness of the spray for more even coverage, and a metal filter in the hose connector to prevent clogging.

Stationary Sprinkler
Designed to water small areas, this simple type usually waters in just one preset pattern that can be circular, rectangular, or square. Kids like jumping through the spray in summer.

  • Pros―Inexpensive, no moving parts to break, good for small areas, and works well under low pressure.
  • Cons―Usually waters in only one pattern, not good for large areas, and will cause puddling if left in one place.
  • Features to look for―A metal filter in the hose connector to prevent clogging; a metal frame, which will last longer than a plastic one; and multiple spray turrets capable of generating several different watering patterns (available in more expensive models).

"Pick the Best Sprinkler" is from the June 2006 issue of Southern Living.