The Best Sprinklers for the Yard
Learn what type of sprinkler best suits your needs and which options we've selected as top favorites.
One key to a healthy lawn and garden is selecting a reliable sprinkler. Attach today’s models to your garden hose and the bulk of your work is done—the most effort required on your part might be to move the sprinkler across your lawn. For even more convenience, consider an underground sprinkler system that’s set on a timer to ensure even watering no matter where you are.
Keep reading to better understand what type of sprinkler can help keep your yard looking its best—and don’t miss our top picks below!
- BEST OVERALL: Dramm 9-Pattern Turret Sprinkler
- BEST UPGRADE: Nelson RainTrain Traveling Sprinkler
- BEST VALUE: Gilmour Spot Sprinkler
- BEST FOR FLOWERBEDS: Nelson Flower Watering Sprinkler System
- BEST DIY SYSTEM: Rain Bird In-Ground Automatic Sprinkler System
Types of Lawn Sprinklers
Generally speaking, lawn sprinklers fall into six categories, ranging from immobile to roaming. Consider the size and shape of your lawn, the climate you live in, and how much water you want to conserve as you decide which type of system best meets your specific needs. Here’s a cheat sheet:
- Fixedor stationary sprinklers vary in design and reach, but each connects to your hose and sprays water in the same pattern over the same area until moved. Typically only able to cover a radius of five to 15 feet at a time, this type of sprinkler is best suited for small yards and compact gardens.
- Oscillating sprinklers use a row of multiple openings to disperse water in a semicircular spray. The sprinkler head—as well as the resulting fan of water—then moves from side to side, so your irrigation covers a larger area than most stationary models.
- Rotating (or rotary) and impact sprinklers both spin 360 degrees as they release water. The former typically has two or more arms that spin, while the latter (sometimes known as an impulse or pulsating sprinkler) spews water from a single jet, clicking as it turns its full rotation. These impact sprinklers often boast the largest range of water distribution.
- Sprinkler hoses are, as they sound, essentially rubber hoses with small perforations lined along the top that emit a controlled spray. The length and flexibility of these models work perfectly to water long, narrow, and even irregularly curved patches of grass since they stretch out over your property like a vine.
- Travelers or traveling sprinklers roll through your yard (garden hose in tow) in a programmed pattern, kind of like a miniature lawnmower—except, of course, watering your grass rather than cutting it.
- In-ground sprinkler systems take the guesswork out of watering your yard by operating on a set schedule. While there’s more effort upfront to map out, dig up your property, and connect a new system to your water main, the strategically placed sprinkler heads can be programmed to emerge from the ground and water the lawn at preset times.
The best lawn sprinklers come equipped with features to help you control water usage.
- On in-ground sprinkler systems, automatic timers allow you to schedule exact watering plans (when, where, and how much water) in advance.
- For above-ground sprinklers, the most comparable features to look for include flow timers (which monitor and limit the amount of water used) and auto-shutoff..
Our Top Picks
1. BEST OVERALL: Dramm 9-Pattern Turret Sprinkler
The Dramm sprinkler features a heavy-duty metal base and an adjustable dial head that can be rotated to select nine different spray patterns— square, oblong, circular, semi-circular and others—making the sprinkler suitable for lawns of all sizes and shapes.
2. BEST UPGRADE: Nelson RainTrain Traveling Sprinkler
The Nelson RainTrain Traveling Sprinkler is designed to facilitate the watering of extended areas of lawns. Position the garden hose where you want the sprinkler to go, and the RainTrain will follow its path. As it travels, the sprinkler’s rotating arms water an adjustable swath from 15 to 55 feet wide, offering a maximum coverage area of 13,500 square feet in a single watering session.
3. BEST VALUE: Gilmour Spot Sprinkler
Keeping your lawn lush doesn’t have to require spending a small fortune. The Gilmour Spot Sprinkler rings up as the most affordable on our list, but it’s a well-made piece of equipment, boasting long-wearing metal construction. The sprinkler can be positioned anywhere in your yard, from which it emits a circular watering pattern up to 30 feet in diameter. You can adjust the watering distance just by adjusting the water pressure at your faucet.
4. BEST FOR FLOWERBEDS: Nelson Flower Watering Sprinkler System
Flowerbeds add color and interest along fences, around the foundation, at the property line, but due to their typically narrow width, watering them can be a chore. With the Nelson Flower Watering Sprinkler System, you can say goodbye to moving that tiny sprinkler every 15 minutes. The Nelson watering system comes with five sprinkler spikes and 50 feet of tubing. Simply spread the tubing throughout the flowerbed and then position the sprinkler spikes where they’re needed most (they’re self-piercing and attach at any spot to the tubing). The sprinkler spikes can be adjusted to water up to 12 feet in diameter, so you can create a custom watering pattern with each.
5. BEST DIY SYSTEM: Rain Bird In-Ground Automatic Sprinkler System
If you’re interested in an in-ground system you can set and forget, you may want to check out the Rain Bird In-Ground Automatic Sprinkler System. This easy-installation, professional-grade system designed for homeowner installation includes six high-efficiency, 360-degree rotary sprinkler heads and attaches to an outdoor faucet for setup in five simple steps.