The fact is, you can't achieve a healthy lawn without watering it. To keep your lawn looking lush all season long, you need to install some sort of sprinkler system. Portable sprinklers are the easiest way to get started, but with so many different types of sprinkler heads, how do you choose the best one for your particular lawn?
Types of Portable Sprinklers
If you just can't justify the cost of installing a permanent in-ground sprinkler system right now, a portable one should do the trick. However, before you head out to the lawn and garden store, familiarize yourself with the characteristics of each type of portable sprinkler system:
Each of these five types of portable sprinkler systems distributes the water on your lawn in a specific pattern. Depending on your lawn needs, one type may work better than another.
A stationary sprinkler, also known as a fixed sprinkler, is probably going to be your cheapest and easiest option. Since there are no moving parts, its risk of malfunctioning is minimal.
Stationary sprinklers have a limited radius, but you can choose watering patterns like circles, rectangles and squares. Even so, the water distribution from this type of sprinkler head is uneven so you'll need to move it around to ensure your entire lawn gets watered evenly. For instance, the area closest to the base of the sprinkler may receive a lot less water than the grass along the outside edge of the pattern.
If you have a large lawn, a traveling sprinkler might be a great option because it can apply water evenly across the entire distance of your lawn. The sprinkler head, which looks like a tiny tractor, moves along a hose track, powered by water pressure.
Keep in mind that traveling sprinklers are not ideal for sloping yards because the little wheels usually don't have enough power to make it uphill. If your lawn tends to get muddy, this can also be a problem because the wheels might get stuck in the mud.
With an oscillating sprinkler, the watering pattern works well for a standard rectangular-shaped lawn. It has an arm that swings back and forth, shooting water high up in the air. Some styles also pause at the end of each swing to add extra water to the outer area since the center usually receives a lot more water.
Since water shoots up in the air, wind can easily distort the watering pattern. If there are trees or bushes nearby, these can also get in the way of water distribution for your lawn.
An impulse or impact sprinkler has a spring-loaded arm that distributes large droplets of water evenly around your lawn. The water shoots out of a revolving sprinkler head before being distributed in a circular pattern that's close to the ground. The sprinkler head's rhythmic pulsing uniformly waters your lawn.
Typically, wind, trees and other obstacles won't affect the even-distribution of water because the droplets are large and the pattern is low.
A revolving sprinkler has a pivoting head with rotating arms that shoot water in a circular pattern on your grass. In contrast to a stationary sprinkler, this type of sprinkler usually deposits the greatest amount of water closest to the base. Because of this, you'll need to move it around your lawn to achieve an even distribution of water.
If your lawn is small and runoff isn't an issue, a revolving sprinkler might be your best bet. Even though the water is distributed within a limited radius, the pattern is low to the ground so nearby trees and other obstacles shouldn't interfere.
No matter which portable sprinkler you choose, make sure you use a garden hose that's long enough so the water can reach all sections of your lawn. Otherwise, your sprinkler installation cannot really do its intended job, which is watering your grass.
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