What Sprinkler Heads are the Most Effective?

I am frequently asked this question but what I think homeowners are really asking is what sprinkler heads are the most powerful. All sprinkler heads can be effective if used for the purpose for which they were intended. A good irrigation design will tailor each landscape with the appropriate sprinkler head while keeping in mind water conservation. Each system should match the water requirement of the plants it is feeding. There are three main types of sprinkler heads. They are bubblers, fixed spray heads and rotors.

3rd place sprinkler headComing in Third Place are the Bubblers

Bubblers win the 3rd place trophy. Bubblers are generally used to drench small areas of the landscape with water. They can water areas up to 5 feet in diameter. Generally, they are not appropriate for lawn irrigation and are used for watering shrubs or sometimes groundcovers. They are most often used to water smaller areas where fixed spray heads would create an overspray of wasted water. However, I have had instances where a homeowner prefers the bubbler so as to avoid spraying their windows with a spray head. Do not confuse bubblers with drip emitters. In contrast to flooding the ground surface, the intent of a drip emitter is for the water to soak into the ground with a minimum amount of water puddling around the emitter. Bubblers flow at much higher rates. Bubblers generally need to be in non -sloping or very level areas due to the potential for water to pool over the ground surface. They are ideal for shrub plantings, trees, containers and flower beds. Bubblers are designed to be adjusted by turning the outer cap. This adjusts the water flow. They are available in full and half circle patterns.

sprinkler headSecond Place Goes to Fixed Spray Heads

Fixed spray heads win 2nd place with a range of five to fifteen feet. These are the small heads that spray a fan-shaped pattern of water similar to a shower nozzle. Most use interchangeable nozzles installed on the sprinkler which determine the pattern (1/2 circle, full circle, etc.) and the radius of the water throw. Some specialty patterns are available for long, narrow areas. Spray heads are spaced up to 18 feet apart. They are available in many different patterns that can be preset or adjustable allowing for customizing nozzle patterns and coverage distances. They also offer multiple pop-up heights from 2″ to 12″ for maximum design flexibility. Dual Spray nozzles are also available for the ultimate in watering uniformity. The dual spray nozzle may cut watering times, thereby saving water and money.

sprinkler headFirst Place Trophy goes to Rotor Sprinklers

Rotor sprinkler heads win the first place trophy for power and effectiveness. They can cover distances of 15-45 feet. Impact sprinklers and gear driven are the two types rotor sprinklers. Impact rotors cover large lawn areas of up to 90 feet in diameter. Gear driven rotors are more suited for slopes and slow draining where runoff is an issue.


I hope this gives you a little help in deciding what sprinkler heads you might consider for your irrigation project. Choosing the best equipment for your situation can help you avoid costly errors often made when designing systems. Please give us a call if you need advice or a free estimate.