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Expert Shopper Lawn & Garden

How to take your sprinkler system to the next level

An efficient, properly installed sprinkler system can make the difference between a lush garden and a dead one. However, many avid and casual gardeners experience issues with their sprinkler system. Luckily, whether you’re setting up a new system or want to improve your current one, there are quite a few ways to take your sprinklers to the next level.

Ways to take your sprinkler system to the next level

Establish a watering routine

Having a consistent watering routine is important to improving your sprinkler system's efficiency. This ensures every plant gets the water it needs throughout the season. It can also cut down on how much time you spend watering your garden or lawn. Here are a few ways to create a good watering schedule:

  • Use programmable sprinklers: These can be set to irrigate your plants on a specific schedule, such as when it's particularly hot or dry outside. Try out different schedules until you find the one that works best for you, adjusting as needed to avoid overwatering or underwatering your plants.
  • Regularly check the weather report: Keep an eye on any upcoming changes to the weather, and adjust the watering schedule accordingly.
  • Choose the coolest time of day: The best time to water the lawn or plants is when it's cool outside. This is usually in the morning or after the sun has gone down.

Position the sprinklers effectively 

Proper positioning of your sprinklers can cut down on water waste, ensure your plants get the water they need and save you money on unnecessary sprinkler heads. Sprinkler heads should be positioned in a way that ensures the spray of each one slightly overlaps with the next. That way, everything gets covered without the risk of drowning your plants’ root systems.

If you see brown or dead spots on the lawn or if the soil is dry, reposition the sprinklers so those areas get water too. Make sure the sprinkler heads are not aimed at structures that shouldn't be watered, such as a fence, side of the house or sidewalk. Also, direct the sprinkler heads so they hit the soil beneath any leaves, flowers or vegetables so they can better reach the root system.

Consider your plants and soil type

Here are three things to consider when upping your sprinkler game:

  • Soil type: The soil type affects water and nutrient retention. For example, sandy soil doesn't retain moisture as well as clay soil. Knowing which type you have can influence how much you should be watering your lawn or plants.
  • Plant type: Every plant has its watering needs. Certain plants, such as agave or cactuses, require less water. Others, such as bell peppers, carrots and squash, need more water.
  • Grass type: If you're growing cool-season grasses, be prepared to water the lawn more frequently than if you're growing warm-season grasses.

Knowing this can help make sure you don’t underwater or overwater your plants.

Get smart sprinklers

Smart sprinkler systems provide the optimal amount of water to your plants while cutting down on wasted resources. Common features include:

  • Customizable scheduling to water plants as needed.
  • Built-in rain sensors that keep the sprinkler heads from activating immediately after it has rained.
  • Ways to adjust the watering amount based on factors like slope, soil type, plant type and sun exposure.
  • Compatibility with voice assistants, such as Amazon Echo, or an app you can download to your smartphone or tablet to easily adjust the schedule.

Install a drip irrigation system

If you want to conserve resources while ensuring your plants receive a steady supply of water, consider installing a drip irrigation system. These can water everything from the lawn and shrubs to raised flower beds or vegetables, but at a slower, more controlled pace than standard sprinklers.

Regularly test the sprinklers

Even the best sprinklers can have defects, such as:

  • Water leaking from closed sprinkler valves.
  • Sprinkler heads that fail to pop up from the ground.
  • Low water pressure.

If you want your system to run optimally, check it every month or so for kinks, blockages or faulty hardware. Replace or repair anything that isn’t running properly.

Use a rain gauge or sensor

A reliable rain gauge can measure how much water your plants receive after recent rainfall. This is useful because it lets you determine whether you need to run your sprinklers and at what capacity. You can also install a rain sensor to turn off your sprinkler system when it's raining to prevent overwatering.


Q. Are rotary nozzles effective?

A. Rotary nozzles are most effective for larger yards or gardens that require low but consistent amounts of water over time. This also makes them good for sloped terrain since they give the ground and root systems more time to absorb the water.

Q. How high should sprinkler heads be?

A. The sprinkler heads should be about one-quarter inch above the surface of the earth. At this height, you can still mow the grass without interference while providing good coverage to your plants or grass.

What you need to buy to take your sprinkler system to the next level

Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller (3rd Generation)

This smart sprinkler controller has everything you need to ensure your plants get the water they need, regardless of weather conditions. It comes with an app that lets you adjust your watering schedule, calculate how much water you're using and more. It also automatically detects weather conditions and changes the schedule to prevent unnecessary watering.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Orbit B-hyve 4-Zone Smart Indoor Sprinkler Controller

Budget-friendly and effective, this smart sprinkler controller works across four zones. It ensures proper irrigation for all types of plants based on the terrain, sun, shade and soil type. It works on Wi-Fi and is compatible with smartphones and Bluetooth, making it convenient to use.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Stratus Precision Rain Gauge

Capable of measuring rainfall to within 1/100 inch, this rain gauge is user-friendly and easy to install. It's also highly resistant to damage or corrosion from the sun, frost or heat.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Raindrip Drip Irrigation Kit

Designed for ground plants and hanging gardens, this kit contains everything you need to set up a simple drip irrigation system at home, including long tubes and a timer.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Eden Adjustable Garden Sprinkler

Sometimes, all you need to enhance your sprinkler system is a reliable, sturdy rotating sprinkler. This one provides 360-degree coverage, but it's also adjustable for those who want to water specific sections of the yard.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Orbit Metal Sprinkler

This rotating sprinkler offers full coverage of any plants within a 24-foot diameter. It also comes on wheels, making it easy to reposition as needed.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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