Types of Sprinklers to use in the Pacific Northwest

You’ve got a great lawn. A fancy flowerbed. You fertilize, tend and weed. But what type of watering system should you use in order to make efficient use of water? Do you use a spray head or a rotor? A nozzle?

Traditionally, there are two basic types of sprinkler systems — spray heads and rotor heads. Here are a few suggestions on making the most of each, as well as some of the more recent hybrids.

  • Spray heads emit a spray of water, much like a shower nozzle. Interchangeable nozzles alter the spray, making a ½ circle pattern, a 360-degree pattern, or a fraction thereof. Spray head nozzles systems are best used for residential yards. They allow you to control water placement.
    • Pop-up spray nozzles are often found in sprinkler systems.
  • Rotor heads yield single or multiple streams of water.
    • Impact rotor head distribute water in an arc pattern ranging anywhere from 40 to 360 degrees—basically, they are rotating streams of water back and forth or in circles over the landscape. Covering a larger area than a pop-up spray head, the rotor sprinklers are best used for large lawns or gardens. Impact rotors are reliable workhorses. Although the metal kind are more expensive than the plastic ones, they last significantly longer.
    • Gear driven rotor heads are often used in sprinkler systems. They’re relatively low-cost, quiet and more versatile than impact rotors. This type of rotor is best suited in small commercial sites or large residential areas. If you have areas in your yard with slopes or clay, this is the best type or sprinkler head to use–their lower precipitation rate increases water absorption.
    • Large fields and commercial landscapes generally make use of large turf rotors.
  • In recent years, a new type of miniature rotor has been introduced. Called rotary nozzles or rotator nozzles, they are a very small rotor that is the same size as the standard nozzle on a spray-type sprinkler. They produce less mist than a regular rotor and said to reduce water use.

Things to consider when choosing a sprinkler system:

  1. Consider using sprays or rotary nozzles if your water pressure is less than 40 PSI static.
  2. Look into rotary nozzles if the area long and narrow, between 12-28′ wide.
  3. If the area you want to water is greater than 30′ x 30′ in dimensions, go for a rotor system.
  4. If the edge of your garden or lawn area has sharp curves (less than 20′ radius), consider a smaller rotary nozzle or spray-type sprinkler.

At Levy’s Lawns and Landscape, we install sprinkler systems. If you would like a sprinkler system installed in your yard, give us a call.