What Sprinkler Heads Should You Use?

The idea behind having a sprinkler system built within your lawn is to create an established pattern of spraying heads that completely and thoroughly covers all areas needing water. Following are descriptions of different sprinkler heads with a brief description of their characteristics.

Rainbird type: These heads are used to cover large areas because of their ability to spray long distances. School yards and parks utilize these heads. They spread water side to side at varying speeds to insure that water is flung in broken drops to the entire surface of the intended coverage area. These heads can spray straight and long, or a screw can be turned to break up the spray in portions that are not flung as far. Caution is advised when using rainbirds; coverage of all heads must be overlapped or dry spots can occur due to uneven watering.

Gear Drive watering: These heads spray like the above, but they move side to side more slowly, in theory to cover more evenly. They usually come in the "pop up" variety, and the best brands feature an excellent adjuster to break up the spray. Still, as with rainbirds, it is important to be sure that the area of coverage for each head is generously overlapped.

Orbit watering heads: These heads spray in a circular pattern either in full, half, or quarter circles. These heads provide excellent coverage if the placement is thought out correctly. There will be a problem with clogging if for any reason dirt is allowed in the line. They also must be carefully placed so that they are high enough to spray without obstruction by the growing grass blades, but low enough not to be chopped off by a lawn mower.

Pop-up Orbit heads: These heads are the same as the heads above except that when the water pressure is on, an extender rises. These heads can be set more
easily lower down in the grass to avoid being run over by a mower because the extender will rise up to the position necessary for correct coverage when water pressure is applied.

Inside of the more expensive of these heads, a spring is placed on the extender to bring it back into the closed position when the water is shut off. Cheaper heads rely on gravity to bring them back down; so sometimes the extensions stay elevated and are broken off by lawn mowers or passersby.

Rotary heads: These heads come in "pop-up" variety and are among the top-rated in uniform spreading of water. They are equipped with springs to draw the extended portion back in after use, and the structure of the more expensive brands is quite long-lasting and durable.

An alternative solution: Many advertisements throughout the U.S. proclaim the benefits of a new and innovative technique of watering that uses less water and is much more effective at keeping a garden green and growing. These are leaky pipe systems and their derivatives. These watering systems are made up of thin lines of tubing that run under the surface of a garden and can supply plant roots directly with needed water.

The advantages of using such a system are as follows:

1. Water is applied directly to roots in a continuous arrangement.

2. Fertilizer can be added to the water and distributed directly to the feeder roots without washing away or evaporating.

3. Because water is fed directly to the roots without exposure to the sun or air, there is extremely little or no evaporation. This saves water and money.

In flower and vegetable gardens this procedure is an excellent way to distribute water to only the spots where plants are growing. But in very hot states such as Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, and Utah (to name only a few) these drip systems have not yet been and are not likely to be perfected for the purpose of watering lawns. In these climates it is sometimes necessary to lay tubing in every square inch of a lawn to provide the correct water coverage. This is prohibitive with regard to both cost and function, before having one of these systems installed in your lawn, check with several sprinkler outfits to ensure that a drip system is feasible in your area.

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