Water-wise gardeners opt for soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems whenever possible, because these methods apply water directly over the root zone of plants and minimize water loss from evaporation and runoff. But sometimes gardeners wish to distribute water over a lawn or throughout a planting bed in a way that mimics rainfall, and that’s when sprinklers are useful. Select sprinklers that apply water in a uniform pattern at any water pressure; avoid those, like impulse sprinklers, that break water into fine mist that drifts away on the breeze. The sprinklers shown are the ones we rely on in the Organic Gardening test garden.
The device at the center of this sprinkler spins and bounces, sending coarse water droplets flying in all directions—up to a 50-foot diameter. It works well at all water pressures. Also available on a 30-inch-tall base for use in flowerbeds.
Oscillating sprinklers are known for their arching fans of water and even distribution pattern. This one can be adjusted to water areas of varying size. It’s also the ideal playtime sprinkler for kids on a hot summer afternoon.
This adjustable sprinkler-on-a-stick rises 2 to 3 feet above established plants, making it a good choice when a flowerbed needs a thorough soaking. The twirling arms spray droplets over a small or large circle, depending on water pressure.
Although its spray pattern is not as even as some, this basic sprinkler with no moving parts is good under shrubbery and in landscape beds. For deep watering, place the sprinkler next to a tree or shrub and keep the pressure low.
This sprinkler’s rotating jet releases a gentle spray of droplets. Made from recycled plastic, it’s also available with a spike base. Adjust the pressure to water a circle between 6 feet and 50 feet in diameter.
Photography by Thomas MacDonald
Videos by Patrick Montero
Originally published in Organic Gardening magazine, June/July 2014