When you first get your sprinkler system installed, the sprinkler heads should be working properly for your lawn and garden. However, as time goes time, you might need to make some adjustments to them. In this article, we’ll show you how to adjust sprinkler heads.
Why Should You Adjust Your Sprinkler Heads?
When watering your lawn, your lawn sprinklers often require regular attention and adjustments to maximize their efficiency. If you water your lawn once a week, you will need to move a single oscillating or rotating sprinkler attached to a hose approximately every 30 minutes until the entire lawn has received about one inch of water.
An irrigation system allows homeowners to water the lawn without the inconvenience associated with periodically moving and adjusting a hose sprinkler. We showed you how to install a drip irrigation system, which is great for individual shrubs and smaller plants, but sometimes you want a full sprinkler system, especially for grass.
However, even with the added convenience of an irrigation system, the individual sprinkler heads requires occasional adjustments for optimal results.
Whether using a hose sprinkler or an irrigation system, you will need to adjust your sprinkler heads to target the desired areas of the lawn accurately and efficiently.
Properly adjusting your sprinkler heads will allow you to evenly distribute the water over the entire lawn without wasting water on sidewalks, driveways, or other areas that are not a part of the lawn.
Types of Sprinkler Heads
There are three basic types of sprinkler heads of irrigation systems used for watering lawns:
A Spray Sprinkler Head
This sprinkler head sprays water evenly as a constant mist but does not turn or rotate; instead, it has the capacity to spray a variety of patterns based on angles of output (e.g. 90, 120, 180, 210, and 360 degrees). This capacity varies depending on the model.
The output of a spray sprinkler rarely reaches over 15 feet, but it sprays a high amount of water quickly. A main criticism of this type of sprinkler head is that the mist it sprays tends to evaporate or be redirected by the wind. As a result, it is not as efficient at watering the lawn as some other sprinklers.
Spray sprinklers may be installed on pop-ups or on fixed risers. Pop-ups can be two inches or up to 18 inches in height, with two and four inches being the most common for lawns. Because of its limited reach, spray head sprinklers are most suitable for smaller lawns.
A Rotating Head
A rotating or rotor sprinkler head outputs single streams of water while rotating and is good for “long throws” that cover a greater distance. It delivers water more slowly than the spray head and takes longer to water the lawn. This head is suitable for medium to large lawns, and its reach is approximately 15 to 50 feet.
An Impact Head
The impact head is similar to the rotating head. This sprinkler head outputs streams of water with significant coverage. The coverage can reach 20 to 150 feet.
The force of the water propels the head in a circular motion, and the water can be sprayed at varying degrees (e.g. 180 or 360 degrees) depending on how you adjust it. However, the impact head is not as efficient and does tend to waste water.
The coverage capacity of a sprinkler head is important in determining which heads to use for your lawn and how to place them. If you have a small lawn, then the spray heads may be best and should be placed no more than 15 feet from each other. Sprinklers should be placed within the maximum limit of their coverage range to avoid dry spots and to optimize coverage.
How to Adjust Your Sprinkler Heads
The method for adjusting the sprinkler head depends on the type of head you are using.
1. Adjusting the Spray Sprinkler Head
A basic spray sprinkler head has a screw used for adjustment. The screw is at the top of the nozzle and requires a screwdriver for adjustment. The distance between the nozzle and the area where the sprayed water reaches the grass is the radius.
If you want the water to reach areas closer to the nozzle, turn the screw clockwise to reduce the water pressure and shorten the radius. Conversely, if you want the water to reach a greater distance, turn the screw counterclockwise to increase the water pressure and lengthen the radius.
You can also adjust the arc distance of the spray. The arc is the length, or the angle, on the circumference of the nozzle that will output water. This can range from 90 to 360 degrees.
Turn the nozzle clockwise to reduce the arc (e.g. 90 degrees) and counterclockwise to increase the arc (e.g. 360 degrees). At 360 degrees, the entire circumference of the nozzle will spray water.
2. Adjusting the Rotor or Rotating Sprinkler Head
The method used to adjust a rotor or rotating sprinkler head varies depending on the brand you are using. However, many brands use a key or special screwdriver to manipulate specific slots on the head of the nozzle that are associated with the arc and radius.
The key is used to adjust the angle arc in a manner very similar to that of the spray sprinkler. Using the key or screwdriver, you will adjust the left stop (how far to the left the nozzle will spray water) and the right stop (how far to the right the nozzle will spray water).
These “stops” determine the degree of the angle, or the arc, for water output. The radius, or the distance of the throw of water, is also adjusted using a slot on the head of the nozzle and the corresponding key or screwdriver.
3. Adjusting the Impact Sprinkler Head
Adjusting the Distance
Both the distance and pattern of water output can be adjusted on an impact sprinkler head. The easiest way to adjust the water distance is to increase or decrease the water flow at the faucet. Increasing the water flow increases the distance that the water will be sprayed and vice-versa.
A second way to adjust the water distance is on the nozzle itself. The impact nozzle has a diffuser screw. Adjusting the diffuser screw by turning it clockwise will diffuse and shorten the water distance.
When you turn the screw counterclockwise, the stream of water will be less diffuse and longer, covering more area. A third way to affect the water distance is by adjusting the deflector shield that sits by the diffuser screw.
The deflector shield affects the water’s trajectory. If you move the shield downward, it directs the water downward and closer to the nozzle for watering at shorter distances. If you raise the shield, it will direct the water upward to cover areas at a greater distance.
A fourth way to manipulate distance is to adjust a control dial. This dial allows you to control the water output distance by turning it left to shorten the distance and decrease the pressure or by turning it right to lengthen the distance and increase the pressure. Control dials are not on all models of impact sprinkler heads.
Adjusting the Pattern
The impact sprinkler head has a trip pin and friction collars that are used to adjust the output patterns. If you want a 360-degree pattern, flip the trip pin upright.
For less than 360-degrees, you will need to adjust the friction collars and place them at the appropriate stop points to achieve the desired angle. The trip pin anchors the collars and causes the nozzle to change directions when it comes in contact with the collars. For example, one collar will stop the nozzle at the left and the other at the right.
The closer the collars are to each other, the more limited or narrow the movement of the nozzle. The further apart the collars are from each other, the greater the range. For no interruption of movement, the pin needs to be lifted up and rested against the sprinkler head.