The Best Oscillating Sprinklers of 2023

Keep your lawn or garden well irrigated while minimizing wasteful overspray on driveways and sidewalks with a good oscillating sprinkler.

Best Overall

The Best Oscillating Sprinkler Options: Eden 94116 3-Way Metal Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler

Eden 94116 3-Way Metal Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler

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Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Oscillating Sprinkler Options: Aqua Joe SJI-OMS16 Metal Base Oscillating Sprinkler

Aqua Joe SJI-OMS16 Metal Base Oscillating Sprinkler

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Best Adjustable

The Best Oscillating Sprinkler Option: Melnor XT4200 Turbo Oscillating Deluxe Sprinkler

Melnor XT4200 Turbo Oscillating Deluxe Sprinkler

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Most lawns need 1 to 2 inches of water per week to thrive. While rainfall can provide that needed water, it’s likely that Mother Nature alone won’t be able to meet the needs of every healthy lawn. An oscillating sprinkler can supplement the needed water and help maintain a beautiful and lush lawn.

Unlike other sprinkler types that distribute water in a circular pattern, an oscillating sprinkler has a sled base that supports a long sprinkler head fitted with up to 20 nozzles that shoot water in a square-shaped pattern.

With its ability to cover nearly 5,000 square feet, an oscillating sprinkler is ideal for watering lawns and it’s an affordable alternative to installing a sprinkler system. The coverage of these sprinklers also is adjustable, allowing the user to efficiently water gardens and flower beds without wasteful overspray.

In this guide, you’ll discover some key features to consider when shopping for these watering devices. Plus, we’ve rounded up some of the best oscillating sprinklers on the market to help make it easier to pick the right one for your needs.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Eden 94116 3-Way Metal Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Aqua Joe SJI-OMS16 Metal Base Oscillating Sprinkler
  3. BEST ADJUSTABLE: Melnor XT4200 Turbo Oscillating Deluxe Sprinkler
  4. BEST FOR SMALL LAWNS: Gardena ZoomMaxx Oscillating Sprinkler
  5. BEST FOR LARGE LAWNS: Aqua Joe AJ-OMS18-TRB Oscillating Sprinkler  
  6. BEST FOR LOW WATER PRESSURE: Dramm ColorStorm Oscillating Sprinkler
  7. BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Eden 96215 Metal Oscillating Sprinkler
A hand adjusting the best oscillating sprinkler option
Photo: amazon.com

How We Chose the Best Oscillating Sprinklers 

We scoured through the reviews and product descriptions of dozens of oscillating sprinklers to choose the best of the best. While analyzing each product, we considered several criteria. Since often oscillating sprinklers face daily threats from foot traffic, lawn mowers, and errant sports balls, we looked for models that are durable. When possible, we chose sprinklers with metal parts and sealed drives.

Coverage is also key, so we included sprinklers capable of covering large swaths of grass along with smaller models capable of limiting their spray pattern to smaller gardens and lawns. We also were drawn to sprinklers that allow the user to adjust the width of the space it is watering and the range of its oscillating movement.

Our Top Picks

We chose our top picks based upon the above considerations. These are some of the best oscillating sprinklers in their specific categories, and any of these models can be a worthy choice for irrigating a residential lawn or garden.

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Durable construction, broad range, and adjustability makes this model from Eden one of the best all-around oscillating sprinklers on the market. With its 20 nozzles, it boasts unparalleled coverage of 4,973 square feet.

Three adjusters allow a user to turn sets of nozzles off and on to control width, suiting yards and flower beds of different sizes. Two independent slide adjusters located on the size of the sprinkler head allow the user to set the range, while a flow control knob allows for adjustment of the size of the watering area.

A dirt-resistant turbo drive ensures the sprinkler operates smoothly for even coverage, and a sturdy metal base provides durability and prevents the sprinkler from shifting while in use. A built-in cleaning tool makes clearing the nozzles easy, while quick-connect adapters for standard hoses allow for faster setup and takedown.

Product Specs

  • Coverage: 4,973 square feet
  • Construction: Metal and plastic
  • Adjustability: Range, water flow, and spray pattern

Pros

  • Durably constructed with a heavy-gauge metal base and sealed drive
  • Quick connection fittings make it easy to attach and detach from garden hose
  • Multiple controls for adjusting oscillating range, water flow, and spray pattern

Cons

  • Customers report that it requires high water pressure to meet listed coverage

Get the Eden 94116 oscillating sprinkler at Amazon.

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The Aqua Joe is an affordable and worthy option for those who don’t need all the adjustment options that come with a high-end oscillating sprinkler. This oscillating sprinkler features a metal base, giving it the durability of some higher-end sprinklers. It covers a respectable 3,600 square feet with its 16 nozzles, making it suitable for medium-size yards and gardens.

While it may not have the control features of more expensive models—it does not have width or area controls—it does include two slide controls on the side that allow for range adjustments from either side. A turbo drive motor allows for smooth oscillation, while a leak-resistant connection ensures the maximum amount of water pressure goes to the sprinkler.

Product Specs

  • Coverage: 3,600 square feet
  • Construction: Metal and plastic
  • Adjustability: Oscillating range

Pros

  • Durable construction with metal base and sealed drive
  • Turbo drive motor allows for consistent water flow
  • Metal fittings create a leak-resistant connection between sprinkler and hose

Cons

  • Does not have controls to adjust spray pattern or flow

Get the Aqua Joe SJI-OMS16 oscillating sprinkler at Amazon.

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A bevy of controls allows users to customize the Melnor XT4200 to suit yards of various sizes and shapes. Levers on the sprinkler head narrow or widen the spray pattern to cover a large swath of grass or a narrow flower bed. Slide controls on the side adjust the XT4200’s range of oscillation, making it easy to avoid driveways and walks. There’s also a Zoom control knob that adjusts the overall size of the watering area.

The XT4200 also includes Melnor’s smooth-operating Infinity Turbo Drive, and it resists buildup from dirt and sediment, making it ideal for those living on well water. The XT4200 has one of the broadest coverage areas among oscillating sprinklers with its ability to cover up to 4,500 square feet.

Product Specs

  • Coverage: 4,500 square feet
  • Construction: Plastic
  • Adjustability: Range, water flow, and spray pattern

Pros

  • Numerous ways to adjust what the sprinkler waters and doesn’t water
  • Smooth operation and consistent water flow, thanks to the Melnor Infinity Turbo Drive
  • Clog-resistant design is ideal for homes with well water and hard water

Cons

  • Plastic base and sprinkler cylinder is less durable than metal sprinkler construction

Get the Melnor XT4200 oscillating sprinkler at The Home Depot.

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By eschewing the traditional long and narrow design of most oscillating sprinklers for a compact sprinkler head with multiple rows of nozzles, Gardena’s ZoomMaxx is suitable for watering smaller spaces. With its 2,400 square feet of coverage on 16 nozzles, it offers about half the coverage of other sprinklers in this category. However, the design has a smaller minimum coverage area—as little as 76 square feet—than a typical oscillating sprinkler. This small footprint allows it to water small yards, gardens, and flower beds without wasteful overspray.

Adjusters on the sprinkler allow the user to set the range between 10 and 60 feet and the width between 10 and 40 feet. A sealed drive unit protects the sprinkler’s moving parts from dirt while ensuring an even distribution of water.

Product Specs

  • Coverage: 2,400 square feet
  • Construction: Plastic
  • Adjustability: Oscillating range, flow control, spray pattern

Pros

  • Capable of watering a very small area, making it ideal for gardens
  • Sealed drive unit protects moving parts from dirt and debris
  • Quick-connect fitting makes it easy to attach and detach from garden hose

Cons

  • Small maximum coverage area of just 2,400 square feet

Get the Gardena oscillating sprinkler at Amazon.

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With its ability to cover a whopping 4,500 square feet, the Aqua Joe oscillating sprinkler is a great choice for those who have a large yard to water. This Aqua Joe sprinkler has built-in buttons that allow the user to narrow its spray pattern by reducing the number of nozzles on the sprinkler bar from a max of 18 down to a minimum of 12.

There’s also a built-in knob that allows the user to adjust the coverage area by reducing the flow control and slide tabs for altering the oscillating range. In addition to covering a large area, the Aqua Joe is also durability built thanks to a metal base and metal fitting.

Product Specs

  • Coverage: 4,500 square feet
  • Construction: Metal and plastic
  • Adjustability: Range, water flow, and spray pattern

Pros

  • Ideal for large yards with a max coverage of 4,500 square feet
  • Multiple controls for adjusting spray pattern, range, and flow rate
  • Durably constructed with a metal base and leakproof metal fittings

Cons

  • Some customers would prefer the ability to narrow the spray pattern more

Get the Aqua Joe AJ-OMS18-TRB oscillating sprinkler at The Home Depot.

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This classic oscillating sprinkler doesn’t require much pressure to activate its oscillating action. In fact, it works with water pressure as low as 30 pounds per square inch, or psi (an average home comes in around 60 psi). While the Dramm oscillating sprinkler has coverage that maxes out at just 3,036 square feet, it includes settings for oscillating range and also comes equipped with an adjustable dial for spray pattern.

The Dramm is also durable, thanks to its all-metal construction. There are also built-in pins at the ends of the spray tube for cleaning out the brass jets. The Dramm oscillating sprinkler is available in six colors. Consider going with green so it blends into the yard or picking bright orange to avoid accidentally running over it with the mower.

Product Specs

  • Coverage: 3,036 square feet
  • Construction: Metal
  • Adjustability: Oscillating range, spray pattern

Pros

  • Works with water pressure as low as 30 psi
  • Durable construction with metal base, sprinkler tube, and jets
  • Easy to coordinate with other yard tools and decor with its 6 color options

Cons

  • Doesn’t have as many adjustments as other oscillating sprinklers

Get the Dramm oscillating sprinkler at Amazon or Ace Hardware.

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This oscillating sprinkler has a metal base and sprinkler bar, so it can endure harsh weather and abuse. Its sealed drive prevents dirt and debris from interfering with its oscillating movement.

In addition to its heavy-duty build, this sprinkler comes with multiple controls, including slides for adjusting the oscillating range and a knob that controls water flow. It does not have controls for adjusting the spray pattern.

The Eden metal oscillating sprinkler has a broad coverage area of up to 4,300 square feet and comes with quick-connection fittings that make it easier to attach and detach the sprinkler from a garden hose. There’s also a built-in cleaning tool for clearing the nozzles.

Product Specs

  • Coverage: 4,300 square feet
  • Construction: Metal
  • Adjustability: Oscillating range, flow control

Pros

  • Heavy-duty construction with all-metal base and sprinkler bar
  • Comes with quick-connect fittings that make it easy to attach and detach
  • Tab slide controls for adjusting the oscillating range

Cons

  • Does not have controls to adjust the width of the spray pattern

Get the Eden 96215 oscillating sprinkler at Amazon.

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What to Consider When Choosing an Oscillating Sprinkler 

Lawn size, the adjustability of the spray pattern, water pressure demands, and sprinkler construction are some of the important factors to consider when choosing an oscillating sprinkler for a yard or garden. Keep reading to learn more about these and other factors to consider when shopping for the best oscillating sprinkler.

Lawn Size 

Lawn size will help determine the best sprinkler, as it’s helpful to purchase a sprinkler that will minimize the number of times it must be moved to cover the entire yard. It’s also beneficial to choose a sprinkler with a spray that’s not too big, so users can avoid wasteful overspray.

To determine the square footage of the yard or garden, multiply its length by its width. Then use this number—the area—to shop for the appropriately sized sprinkler. For example, a lawn that is 50 feet by 75 feet would need a sprinkler that can cover at least 3,750 square feet.

Since oscillating sprinklers have a square-shaped coverage area, nonrectangular yards will require multiple sprinklers or a rotating sprinkler for full coverage. A larger yard also may need multiple sprinklers to cover the entire area in one watering session. Keep in mind that homes with water pressure below the standard 30 pounds per square inch (psi) won’t have enough pressure to meet the sprinkler’s maximum coverage standard.

Material 

Oscillating sprinklers consist of either plastic or metal parts, and each material has its pros and cons.

  • Metal sprinklers will better endure accidental impacts from a lawn mower or errant soccer ball and serve as a sturdier base for the oscillating sprinkler head, but they are more prone to corrosion and rust.
  • Sprinklers with plastic parts are more affordable but won’t hold up as well to impacts.

Oscillating sprinklers use a mechanism that moves the head back and forth slowly. Sprinklers that keep this mechanism in an enclosed chamber are more durable than models that have a drive exposed to the elements.

Though this design is less expensive, the gears in an exposed drive can clog with dirt and debris, preventing the sprinkler from oscillating. With that in mind, a sprinkler with an open drive needs to be stored during inclement weather to protect these moving parts.

Sled Base 

Unlike other sprinkler types, sled bases are not rooted to the ground by a stake, which can damage the yard. This design also makes it easy to maneuver them around the yard to cover multiple watering zones. Most sled bases are made of metal or plastic with an attachment for a standard garden hose and controls that adjust the range on one end.

Most oscillating sprinklers have a long sled base that is about 15 to 17 inches long and 5 to 6 inches wide, although some oscillating sprinklers use a sled base with a circular design that is about a foot in diameter. This large base provides a stable foundation that keeps the sprinkler steady as the head oscillates back and forth.

Spray 

Oscillating sprinklers have a series of jets typically set in a line across an oscillating bar that sprays water up into the air. The jets are set at different angles to cover the watering area evenly. Most sprinklers have between 16 and 20 jets, with the latter providing the greatest amount of coverage. These jets oscillate back and forth at a consistent speed to allow for even watering across the entire coverage area.

The spray also is adjustable. Most oscillating sprinklers have an adjuster that controls how far the sprinkler head oscillates in either direction. Higher-end sprinklers usually allow the user to adjust the coverage area’s width, and some include a zoom knob that controls the size of the coverage area’s footprint.

Water Pressure 

Most oscillating sprinklers base their maximum coverage on 30 psi of water pressure, which suits a typical city water standard of about 30 to 50 psi that most homes use. If the available water pressure is less, the sprinkler won’t be able to reach the stated maximum coverage. If the water pressure is too low, the water may not generate enough force to turn the oscillating sprinkler head. Those with homes with water pressure that falls below this 30 psi threshold may want to consider a sprinkler designed for low pressure.

High water pressure also can have a negative impact on sprinkler performance, causing the water to mist as it exits the nozzles. A pressure regulator attached between the hose and the sprinkler can reduce this pressure. The best way to determine a home’s water pressure is to use a water gauge or flow meter.

Water Conservation

Since an oscillating sprinkler can use about 17 gallons of water per minute, it’s important to look for features that help direct as much of that water to nourishing the lawn as possible. Oscillating sprinklers cover a fairly precise area, making it easy to position them to water desired areas and only those areas. This helps conserve water and prevents wasteful watering of driveways and sidewalks.

Some sprinklers include a built-in mechanical timer. A sprinkler with a timer allows the user to set the sprinkler to shut off after a set amount of time, making it a great solution for preventing overwatering for those who don’t have a sprinkler control system.

Convenience

Some oscillating sprinkler models include features that make them more convenient to use. This includes adapters that attach to the hose end, which makes attaching and detaching the sprinkler easier. They eliminate the need to screw and unscrew the connector when it’s time to store the hose or the sprinkler.

Most oscillating sprinklers also include built-in strainers, which prevent debris from entering the sprinkler and clogging the nozzles. Higher-end oscillating sprinklers also have flow controls that allow the user to adjust water output.

Some sprinklers include built-in timers, which will shut off the sprinkler after a preset period of time, preventing overwatering.

FAQs 

If you’re wondering how to best use an oscillating sprinkler, then read on for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about these watering devices.

Q. What kind of sprinkler covers the most area?

With its ability to cover 4,973 square feet, the Eden 94116 3-Way Metal Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler provides some of the broadest coverage of this sprinkler type, making it ideal for large yards. This sprinkler is also versatile. You can adjust it to cover a much smaller footprint to avoid overspray onto driveways and sidewalks.

Q. How long should you water the lawn with an oscillating sprinkler? 

Most oscillating sprinklers will produce about 1 inch of water per hour. At that rate, you should water your lawn for 1 hour, once a week, as most lawns need between 1 and 2 inches of water per week to stay healthy. When coming up with a weekly watering plan, be sure to account for any rainfall and adjust the amount of time you run your oscillating sprinkler accordingly.

Q. How do I adjust my oscillating sprinklers?

Oscillating sprinklers have adjusters that allow you to set how far the sprinkler head oscillates back and forth. After locating the adjusters on the sprinkler, slide the adjusters toward the sprinkler head to shorten the range or farther away from the head to broaden the range. Some sprinklers also have buttons or slide adjusters on the sprinkler bar that allow you to narrow or broaden the spray pattern.

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Tony Carrick is a freelance writer specializing in home improvement, landscaping, and design. A recipient of a degree in journalism and a Master of Arts in English, he spent ten years writing for a variety of local newspapers and business publications before becoming an English teacher. Mr. Carrick now works as a freelance writer from his home in North Carolina. When he isn’t furiously typing away on his laptop or working on his latest home improvement project, he enjoys spending time with his family and cycling through the beautiful North Carolina countryside.

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Tony Carrick

Contributing Writer

Tony Carrick is a freelance writer who has contributed to BobVila.com since 2020. He writes how-to articles and product reviews in the areas of lawn and garden, home maintenance, home improvement, auto maintenance, housewares, and technology.

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