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Selecting In-Ground Watering System Sprinkler Heads

When landscaping your yard, the look of your lawn and plantings are a source of pride for homeowners. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to keep the lawn and plantings looking good during the hottest parts of the summer and the plants and lawn suffer stress from lack of water. When watering your lawn, you can lug hoses and sprinklers around, but this can be very time intensive and many people just don’t have the time to do this. A good solution is to install an in-ground sprinkler system for your lawn and plants.

In-Ground Watering Systems

The purpose for having a sprinkler system installed in your lawn is to create an established pattern of spraying heads that completely and thoroughly cover all areas needing water. This will ensure a nice even spread to all parts of the lawn. An in-ground sprinkler system can also be used for applying the appropriate water to your landscape plantings as well.

There are many components of an in-ground system; timers, irrigation tubes, valves, and water distribution heads for dispersing the water to the lawn and plants. The installation of an in-ground watering system requires planning and knowledge about the products available.

Sprinkler Heads for In-Ground Watering Systems

There are many different types of sprinkler heads available for these watering systems. Below are descriptions of different sprinkler heads and their characteristics.

Rainbird In-Ground Sprinkler HeadRainbird Sprinkler Head

These heads are used to cover large areas because of their ability to spray long distances. School yards and parks utilize such 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 of the coverage area that are closer to the sprinkler head.  When using rainbirds; coverage of all heads must be overlapped or dry spots can occur due to uneven watering.

Gear drive in-ground sprinkler headGear Drive Rainbird Sprinkler Head

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 Sprinkler 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 given that 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.

Orbit In-Ground Sprinkler HeadPop-up Orbit Sprinkler heads

These heads are similar to 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 adequate coverage when water pressure is applied.

Inside of the workings of the better quality 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 exposed and can be broken off by lawn mowers or passersby.

Rotary in-ground sprinkler headRotary Sprinkler 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 higher quality, more expensive brands is quite long-lasting and durable.

Watering Individual Landscape Plants

Aside from using a sprinkler system, you can use a drip irrigation system to apply water directly to landscape plantings and flower beds around your home. These systems slowly drip water into the soil at the base of the plants to provide them with the right amount of moisture with little waste of water. 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 given needed water.

Drip irrigation componentsThe advantages of using such a system are as follows:

  • Water is applied directly to roots in a continuous arrangement.
  • Fertilizer can be added to the water and distributed directly to the feeder roots without washing away or evaporating.
  • 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.

These drip irrigation systems are used extensively in states like Nevada where water is scarse.


Before having an in-ground sprinkler or drip irrigation system installed in your lawn, do more research on what your needs are and how much it costs to have a professional installation. You can do these installations yourself, but it is hard work if you don’t have access to the equipment needed for laying the tubing underground.

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