Let’s face it, finding something which suits you today is tough work. The things are even more difficult if you lack experience or expertise in that area. I didn’t know much about sprinklers or spraying systems until a few years back. Because I know the situation you are in, here are my tips on how to choose one of the most critical parts of the irrigation system.
The best sprinkler heads are featured in this article, so you don’t need to guess which one to buy.
Are All Sprinkler Heads The Same?
Let me tell you right away; they are not. Even if they look the same from the outside, what is inside the housing, makes them completely different. In general, they can be divided into four groups:
These are but nozzles on top of the plastic cylinder. They have no movable parts, won’t retract, and are used just on elevated areas. For example, if you need to water your shrubs, take a hose, attach it, put the sprayer on a stick, and spray.
Those have a body and a stem on top of which is the nozzle where the water sprays. Some of them may pack some additions, but are stationary, meaning that the nozzle stays in place. They are best used on smaller areas.
These are somewhat similar to the first group, with the difference that their head is rotating by the system of gears. They are a bit more complicated by design, but are in general covering the ground better, and can be adjusted. Also, they are ideal for medium-sized areas.
Most commonly used on vast areas, these are of the most durable construction, often featuring brass and stainless steel. The spray is “cut” by the moving part, which can be adjusted for distance and covering angle. Their main disadvantage, however, is the noise they make; not suitable for residential areas.
What To Look For When Buying A Sprinkler Head?
There are several factors which need to be considered when it comes to good choice. I had to take all of these into consideration while testing these models, and here are my criteria.
The body of the sprinkler will always be longer than the stem. Because stem goes up under the water pressure, it has to be housed when it goes down. However, it is essential to look at the height of the stem. In case that you are looking for a sprinkler for your lawn, you will probably want to go with a standard 4” or 6” one. The main reason for this is the height of the grass.
Most often, people cut their grass at 3” height. You want for your sprinkler to be above that level, because if the stream hits the grass, it will be irregular in shape, and the coverage will be uneven. On the other hand, if you are looking for a sprinkler for the garden with shrubs, I can recommend 6” or 12”, just because of the height of the vegetation.
Simply put, if the sprinkler has the spring, buy it. It is located inside the housing, and when the water flow stops, it returns the stem down. Of course, this lifts up the price just a little bit, but this is such great feature, that it is worthy.
Dirt or water may prevent the stem from popping back to the place, and in case that you haven’t noticed it in time, once the grass cutter hits it, a replacement will be the next step. Also, walking across wet grass and soil just to push the stem back can be unpleasant, even if it is summer. The spring is adjusted in such manner that standard 30 PSI pressure will lift the stem, but anything less will close the sprinkler.
As I said while writing about garden sprayers and backpack sprayers, there is no better material for nozzles than brass or bronze. These two are most resistant to wearing and tearing, and cannot crack after long hours in the sun. Inevitably, usage of this material lifts up the price but prolongs serving years manifold, and it pays off eventually.
The housing must be of quality plastic, sturdy and durable. This part is dug in the ground, so it must resist water influence, mold and other factors which can cause cracking and leaking. Also, I have mentioned springs; those as well must be made to last longer without weakening. On the other hand, nozzles may be plastic as well, but it must be durable enough not to break after short time.
Sometimes, specific areas of the lawn or garden must be watered more thoroughly, while others need less attention. To avoid either brown spots or creation of puddles, I had to take into consideration whether sprinkler heads can be adjusted.
Angle or rotation, as well as distance, are essential when it comes to watering. One setting in often not enough, because it may happen that instead of droplets you get a stream from the nozzle. This way the area around the sprinkler remains dry. Shortening the distance will solve this matter.
Of course, the matter of how much money will be spent is also important. Although these are not expensive, the case of correlation between quality and the price is vital.
Not just for sprinklers, for everything I buy, I tend to determine how much do I gain for that price. If the product is terrible, I won’t buy it, even if it is cheap. On the other hand, if I find a great one, and is a bit expensive, I will take it, most likely. Finding a balance between these two situations is the ultimate goal; good product as cheap as possible.
As for the products which I’m concerning as worth buying, here they are. There are minor differences between them, but as you will see, the winner was declared by a hairbreadth.
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Rain Bird Rotor Heads 5000 – The Four Kings
Price on Amazon: $39.88
In the world of sprinkler systems, Rain Bird is a well-known name. Their products are often a synonym for quality and reliability, and this model is no exception.
This is a 4” pop-up rotor sprinkler head, with preinstalled nozzles. 4” are somewhat standard. If the grass you have in your yard is shorter than this, these will fit perfectly. Also, they can be mounted to a holder, and used in gardens or areas with shrubs. This model also sports heavy duty and strong spring which will pop the head back down once the water is shut off.
As for the material, it is made of quality plastic, with metal spring, of course. Although nozzles are plastic as well, they are high-quality. Reach of the stream can be adjusted from 25 to 50 feet, and the arc can be set from 40 to 360 degrees. High adjustability is thus one of its main advantages, as well the fact that I needed only a flathead screwdriver to adjust it.
The price is amazingly low for such quality-made product. It may be somewhat high, but since there are four items in the package, it is quite low.
Hunter PGP Ultra – Could Be The Winner Easily
Price on Amazon: $49.99
Hunter is another well-known name from this area. Their product as well deserves to be featured as the winner, but one tiny thing dropped it to second place.
It is also 4” pop-up rotor sprinkler as well as the winner. Hunter took a step further and made their gears exclusively to be lubricated by water, which is a fantastic feature. However, this couldn’t replace the fact that there is no spring installed. A severe oversight which cost this model 1st place.
As for the material, it is on par with the winner; the quality is apparent, even with plastic nozzles. Speaking of which, I found difficult to adjust the range and the angle of this sprinkler head.
Namely, instead of making things easy and installing universal screws, the manufacturer opted for unique-shaped ones. Of course, you get the key for adjustment, but to me, it was a bit tiresome to look after where I put it and not to lose it. Still, the adjustment was easy, only the system which is featured should be better.
The price is somewhat higher, and by me, it should be lower for at least $10. It may be the package of four, and still, makes it a great item to have, but the more moderate price should be much appreciated.
Orbit 55060 Voyager II – The Ultimate (S)Prayer
Price on Amazon: from $18.69
If you are a religious person and have prayed for a perfect sprinkler head, this is the answer to your prayers.
Orbit is a famous name, so it is not a surprise that they have opted for the very best. 4” stem is made of durable plastic, capable of withstanding heavy pressure, so bursting is out of the question. It also sports the spring so strong that popping back is lightning fast once the water is turned off.
The nozzles are plastic, but the plastic is very durable and sturdy so that damage will be caused only in case of careless handling. What sets aside this model is the filter which is included. This means that water doesn’t need to be crystal-clear and that even container with fertilizer can be attached to the system.
As for the distance, it can throw staggering 52 feet of range, which is more than any other model from this class. It also covers the arc between 40 and 360 degrees, which is more than enough for every garden. Although it is intended for medium and large surfaces, combining two sprinklers in each corner of smaller ones will do the trick.
Price is high for this model, there is no doubt, but the quality of it is so high that it justifies the amount of money you will give. Simply put, if you have a sprinkler system, and looking for an upgrade, this is your choice.
Toro T5 Rapid – Cheap, But Reliable
Price on Amazon: $14.00
It seems that I have featured all the famous manufacturers in this article. Toro is well known as well, but this time, they have opted for slightly limited and cheaper variety.
What surprised me with this model is its 5” height. It is uncommon, but Toro is known to make things his way. In any case, 5” is not so drastic to be considered a flaw, in fact, it lets you grow grass on your lawn an inch longer if nothing else.
As for the spring, it is present, made of stainless steel, and works quite well. In fact, I got the feeling that it should be a bit weaker, since this model is intended for smaller areas, thus utilizing lower pressure.
The nozzles are average-made, nothing spectacular, but not disastrous either. What surprised me is that Toro gives lifetime warranty; I’m sure they wouldn’t if the product is bad. The housing is also average, but considering price, it is understandable somewhat lower quality when compared to others from this list.
When it comes to adjustability, a significant feature of this model is that no screwdrivers are needed; just twist the upper part of the head until you get an arch you wish. On the other hand, when I wanted to change the distance of the stream, I had to remove the whole nozzle. It was a tad bothersome, but I endured.
The price is low, which didn’t surprise me. However, this model will last for quite a bit of time, so if you are looking for a sprinkler head which will last without you splashing the cash, this is the one for you.
Strongway Wheeled Sprinkler – Everything A Gardener Can Dream Of
Price on Amazon: $99.00
All of the other models featured here are mostly intended for lawns and yards. Some of them may be used in gardens, but only this model is specially made for this usage.
The design of this sprinkler is quite amusing. It uses aluminum pipe which is attached to the wheels, and through which water flows. On top of that pipe is the sprinkler head. Now, the lower section of the pipe has the fitting for a garden hose and attaching it was no trouble at all. Since the sprinkler is lifted from the ground at 35½ inches, it can cover a vast area. 10.000 square feet, to be precise.
Since no plants in my garden were that tall, I had no worries that the stream will cut the leaf or cabbage or such. Speaking of flow, the head which produces it is incredible! Made of brass and metal, it will surely last much longer than any other here. The sprinkler may be adjusted up to 120 ft distance covered. Partial circle or full one, it is up to you.
The price may be high, but once considered that this sprinkler could be moved around without the need of fixed and underground water supply, it is clear that it pays off eventually.
When everything said above is taken into consideration, it is clear that Rain Bird Rotor Heads 5000 had beaten its competition fair and square. Reliability, affordable price, easiness of adjustment and overall quality are of the utmost importance, and 5000 had fulfilled those terms flawlessly. These were the best sprinkler heads available on the market today.
What do you think? Your thoughts and opinions are more than welcome in the comment section below.