Deciding on the best sprinkler system for your lawn is essentially a matter of your lawn type and the extent to which you're willing or able to monitor the operation of your sprinkler. There are seven different common types of lawn sprinkler, each with specific design features that benefit specific sizes and shapes of lawn. Another important factor to consider when comparing sprinkler systems is the amount of water your lawn will need, which is largely determined by the climate in which you live. When determining how much water a sprinkler system will need to deliver to adequately dampen your lawn, bear in mind that one inch of water will moisten sandy soil to a depth of one foot, loamy soil to a depth of six to seven inches and clay-heavy soil to a depth of four to five inches. Soil which has been dampened to a depth ranging from four to six inches is generally regarded as adequately watered. Once you've determined the type of lawn sprinkler best suited for your lawn type and your level of lawn maintenance commitment, further narrowing of choices can take place by comparing the most highly rated brands of the sprinkler type you need.
Fixed lawn sprinklers fling water in a set pattern over a defined area, and include ring-shaped and salt shaker-shaped sub types. This is one of the more economical types of lawn sprinkler, and is ideal for small lawns and gardens which require quick and accurate watering. Impact sprinkler systems are more precise by comparison, shooting a stream of water as they rotate and usually feature adjustable spray patterns. They are commonly used on larger backyards and are ideal in hotter areas which experience droughts and water usage limitations, as they use less water than a fixed sprinkler system.
In-ground sprinkler systems are permanently installed just under the surface of the ground and are programmed to emerge and spray water over a lawn at designated times. These are the only type of lawn sprinkler systems which aren't simply hooked up to the end of a garden hose to operate, instead connecting directly to a water source. They are perfect for watering areas immediately around your home and for garden areas, and the timers make them a great choice for homeowners who don't wish to closely monitor the operation of their sprinkler system. As effective as in-ground sprinkler systems are, however, their expense is considerable which frequently and unfortunately makes them an unrealistic option for the average homeowner. Oscillating sprinkler systems are above-ground elongated tubes with multiple openings which sway to create a soft waterfall effect that provides uniform water coverage. This type of sprinkler is best for medium-to-large lawns which are square or rectangular in shape. Homeowners considering an oscillating system should also consider potential problems with this type of sprinkler, including difficulties with keeping the sprinkler level on the ground during operation and a tendency for the oscillation mechanism to stick.
Rotating sprinklers offer fast, consistent water dispersal in a circular formation with multiple sprayer arms, and are perfect for lawn areas close to your house and for gardens. Homeowners thinking of buying a rotating standing or spike sprinkler should take into account that this type of sprinkler can be more quick to break than other more expensive types, thus possibly negating any initial cost savings. By contrast, sprinkler hoses are more suited for the precision required with a thinner, more oblong strip of property. They are specifically designed to evenly cover narrower lawn areas, making them perfect for grass-covered spaces between homes which are just wide enough to be considered more a part of the lawn than mere alley space. Lastly, traveling sprinkler systems are quiet, programmable mobile units which can cover a large area and which require little to no monitoring on the part of the homeowner for hours of hands-off operation time. Because the water is dispersed low to the ground by the mobile unit sprinklers, there is less chance of the water being borne up by the wind and deflected off course or simply evaporating in the breeze. They are perfect for lawns which are uneven or sloped and which may have an unconventional shape, though they are also one of the more costly types of lawn sprinklers and are likely to be cost prohibitive for those with limited funds.