The Best Sprinkler Heads for Your Lawn: 2021 Reviews and Buying Guide

Welcome to our top picks for the best sprinkler heads on the market this year. With so many options available, we’re here to help you choose what will work best for your lawn care needs.

The best sprinkler heads

What are the different types of sprinkler heads?

The various types of sprinkler heads available for in ground irrigation are rotary sprinkler heads which are best suited for larger distance and are great for ranges from 15 to 50 feet depending on application and traditional pop-up sprinklers.

While traditional pop up heads are what most individuals are accustomed to.  These pop-up sprays require little maintenance and come in various angles to accommodate your yards shape.

Rotary spray sprinklers are a newer sprinkler design that is a combination between rotary sprinklers and pop-up spray sprinklers.  These nozzles work on traditional pop-up spray bodies and spray multiple streams in a rotating fashion.  These are great for awkward angled areas and low water volume applications.

What are the best sprinkler heads?

In most areas of the United States supplemental water and irrigation is needed to have a green lawn during the summer months. 

When looking at sprinkler heads there are thousands of options available, but you don’t have time to research them all.

And luckily, you don’t have to because we’ve done the research for you.

This list will provide you with the best tried and tested sprinkler offering on the market.

We’ve curated all of the top-rated traditional pop-up sprinklers and well as rotators.

If you are not sure which option suits your application best, please see our reference guide and sprinkler tips at the bottom of the post.

The Best Rotary Sprinkler Heads

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Rain Bird 32SA with Simple Adjust Gear Drive Rotor

This classic Rain Bird design is perfect for the homeowner with larger areas requiring rotary sprinklers.  This sprinkler has great uniformity and a rain curtain pattern that produces a consistent arch

Pros

  • Spray distance 19-32ft
  • 3.0 gallon per minute nozzle
  • Adjustable from 40-360 degrees
  • Easy adjust with a flat screwdriver
  • Pattern strength reduces wind disruption
  • ½ female threaded inlet

Cons

  • Extra nozzles to increase or decrease gallons per minute are not included

Hunter Industries RTL2001PGJ04 Hunter PGJ-04 Rotor Head

Hunter’s PGJ rotor sprinkler is a durable homeowner offering with professional grade performance and reliability.

Pros

  • Spray distance 15-37ft
  • 2.0 gallons per minute nozzle
  • Adjustable from 40-360 degrees
  • Durable rubber cover on top
  • Easy to adjust
  • Multiple nozzles provided to change gpm and distance
  • ½ in threaded female inlet

Cons

  • Need sprinkler tool to adjust

Hunter PGP Ultra Rotor Head w/Adjustment Key & Nozzle Rack

Hunter PGP rotors are your best option for large areas requiring high output.  These sprinklers offer a robust design on a ¾ inch inlet.  If you are looking for a professional design with maximum coverage these are best.

Pros

  • Spray distance 22-52ft
  • 1.5-8.0 gallons per minute nozzles included
  • Adjustable from 50-360 degrees
  • Robust drive system
  • 34 different nozzle options

Cons

  • None

The Best Spray Sprinkler Heads

Rain Bird 1804VAN Professional Pop-Up Sprinklers

If you are looking for a traditional pop-up spray sprinkler system Rain Bird has you covered with this high efficiency fully adjustable model.

Pros

  • Spray distance 8-15ft
  • 0.9-3.3 gpm depending on radius
  • Adjustable from 0-360 degrees
  • Easily adjustable with no tool required
  • Durable and corrosion resistant

Cons

  • None

Rain Bird 22SA-RVAN Mini Rotary Pop-Up Spray Heads

New technology in the same efficient package as a traditional spray pop-up with a rotor like action.  Rain Bird’s  RVANS fully customizable system can give you great coverage for the tinkerer and lawn enthusiast.

Pros

  • Spray distance from 5-27ft depending on model
  • 0.2 to 2.5 gallons per minute depending on head
  • Easily customizable with 9 different nozzle options
  • No tool required for adjustment
  • Even distribution
  • Lower water usage

Cons

  • Lower GPM require longer sprinkler run time to equal output of traditional pop-ups

Hunter MP Rotator Spray Head

Hunter’s MP Rotator system is a great system for the DIY crowd and sprinkler experts.  Similar to Rain Birds RVAN system with more options and a slightly better spray pattern.

Pros

  • Spray distance from 5-32ft depending on model
  • 0.2 to 2.5 gallons per minute depending on head
  • Easily customizable with over 20 different nozzle options
  • Even distribution
  • Lower water usage

Cons

  • Lower GPM require longer sprinkler run time to equal output of traditional pop-ups
  • Requires tool for adjustment

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What is the most efficient sprinkler head?

Sprinkler efficiency can be looked at by determining how long it takes your system to put down an inch of water. 

Sprinkler heads often listed as water saving or high efficiency put out significantly less water than other heads.  This idea presents well but in practice may leave your lawn dry and looking for water. 

For example if we were to compare the water output of the Hunter PGJ Rotator (2.0 gpm) compared to the Rain Bird RVAN (.25gpm) it would take the Rain Bird RVAN four times longer to put down the same amount of water as the Hunter PGJ in the same amount of time. 

Does this mean the Rain Bird RVAN is a bad sprinkler? No, it just means you need to take into account how much water is being put down in a set period of time.

How high should a sprinkler head be?

When placing sprinklers in the ground it is optimal to install them flush with the soil level and not the grass itself.  By installing them flush with the soil level you minimize the risk of breaking the sprinkler while mowing while also minimizing tripping hazards in the lawn.

How many sprinkler heads should be on a zone?

First you need to determine how many sprinklers your water supply can handle. 

You first need to know how many gallons per minute your water line supplies. 

To do this grab a five gallon bucket and time how long it takes to fill the bucket from a hose bib. 

Take the time it took and took to fill the bucket and then divide that number into 5.  Once you have that value multiply it by 60 and it will give you your systems gallons per minute.  

Example: It takes you 20 seconds to fill your 5 gallon bucket

  • 5/20=.25
  • .25×60=15

Your system inturn can support 15 gallons per minute (gpm)

Once you determine your gpm, then you know the maximum output your system can efficiently run. 

Each sprinkler you choose has a gpm output.  Take that number and divide it into 15 (based upon our example) and it will help you determine how many of those specific sprinklers you can use at one time.  

Example: Hunter PGJ Rotators with supplied 2.0 gpm nozzles

15/2=7.5

With our provided example you would be able to run about 7 of these sprinklers at one time.  It is always better to error on a little less than maximum volume to ensure all sprinklers are working to their capacity.

Once you determine what sprinklers best fit your application here are a few things to consider when you are setting up your system. 

For proper coverage sprinklers need to have head to head coverage and not just overlapping arcs. 

With head to head coverage it will ensure the areas of the lawn are all receiving the same amount of water. 

If head to head coverage is not obtained areas nearest the sprinkler head will not receive adequate water. 

Head to head coverage is best achieved by placing the sprinklers in squares or triangles with the heads being in the corners.

How do I choose a sprinkler head?

As a good rule of thumb rotors sprinklers will require more gpm and are best suited for larger areas and open spaces.  On the other hand pop-up spray sprinklers require less gpm and work best in smaller spaces or unique shapes.  

Are rotary sprinklers better?

Rotary sprinklers work great for their specific application.  These sprinklers work best for larger and unobstructed areas.  If you have a lawn that is larger than 15 feet corner to corner and have a good water supply rotary sprinklers work great and provide good water volume.  If you have curves and non linear bends in your landscape pop-up sprinklers may be best for optimal coverage.

Which is better Hunter or Rainbird?

The great debate, which sprinkler manufacturer is the best Hunter or Rain Bird? 

Both manufactures provide great products for the homeowner and landscape or turf professional. 

Some things to consider is most hunter products require a special tool to adjust their rotary and pop-up rotary offerings. These tools are often provided with the rotary models but require you to buy the tool for the pop-up rotary.

The Rain Bird offerings can either be adjusted by hand or with common flat head or phillips head screwdrivers. 

Both companies have ample offerings to fit the bill.  Both are great, that’s why there is debate.

What is the best lawn sprinkler to buy?

After reading through the reviews and this guide the best sprinkler to buy is the optimal sprinkler for your application.  If you stick with these tested models you can’t go wrong.

How to Choose the Best Sprinkler Heads for Your Needs

The best sprinkler heads for your lawn