Whether killing off weeds, fertilizing a garden, or keeping pests at bay, pump sprayers are an effective and affordable way to distribute fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.
Pump sprayers consist of a 1- to 6-gallon plastic tank, a manual or mechanical pump, and a long wand. They have interchangeable nozzles that allow the user to distribute the spray in patterns ranging from a narrow stream to a broad fan. These handy gardening tools are available in one-handed and two-handed sprayers, backpack sprayers, and wheeled sprayers.
With so many shapes, sizes, and brands of sprayers from which to choose, it can be a challenge to determine which one is appropriate for a particular yard and garden. This guide will examine important factors to consider when shopping for a pump sprayer and then review some of the best pump sprayers on the market today.
- BEST OVERALL: D. B. Smith Contractor 190216 2-Gallon Sprayer
- RUNNER-UP: Roundup 190260 Lawn and Garden Sprayer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: CHAPIN 20000 Garden Sprayer
- BEST BACKPACK: D. B. Smith Field King 190328 Backpack Sprayer
- BEST ONE-HAND SPRAYER: ITISLL Manual Garden Sprayer
- BEST BATT.-POWER BACKPACK: Field King 190515 Professionals Battery Powered
- BEST BATT.-POWER HANDHELD: Scotts 190567 Lithium-Ion Battery Powered Pump
- BEST PROFESSIONAL: PetraTools Powered Backpack Sprayer
- BEST DESIGN: VIVOSUN 1.3 Gallon Lawn and Garden Pump
- BEST WHEELED: Solo 453 3-Gallon Trolley Landscape Sprayer
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pump Sprayers
It’s essential to select the right type and size of pump sprayer to suit one’s property. Ahead, learn more about these two crucial factors and other important attributes to consider when choosing the best pump sprayers.
- Backpack sprayer: A backpack sprayer has a tank with straps that allow the user to carry the sprayer on their back. This type of sprayer has a greater volume than a handheld sprayer, and the design makes it easier to carry.
- Hose-end sprayer: A hose-end sprayer attaches to the end of a hose and mixes the water and the chemicals as the water passes through the nozzle. Since the chemicals are concentrated and the hose supplies a limitless amount of water, this type of sprayer is ideal for covering large areas.
- Handheld sprayer: A handheld sprayer consists of a plastic or metal basin with a pump that doubles as a handle and a wand-like applicator. This type of sprayer is ideal for smaller applications, such as fertilizing a flower garden or treating weeds growing through a walk.
- Wheeled sprayer: A wheeled sprayer features a tank atop a wheeled frame that allows the user to wheel the sprayer around the yard. This type of sprayer holds more liquid than a handheld or a backpack sprayer, making it ideal for larger applications, such as treating an entire yard.
- Battery-powered sprayer: A battery-powered sprayer replaces the manual pumping action required for a traditional pump sprayer with batteries. The battery powers a small pump that maintains the required pressure in the tank to push the liquid through the sprayer nozzle. This type of sprayer offers convenience as it eliminates the need to periodically pump the sprayer to create pressure in the tank.
Pump sprayers work either with a manual piston system or a battery-powered pump. A sprayer with a piston system has a large handle that the user pumps manually to pressurize the tank. This pressure forces the liquid out of the nozzle when the user pulls the trigger. The pressure decreases as the pump operates, forcing the user to periodically increase the pressure in the tank by pumping the piston. Battery-powered sprayers have a small electric motor that creates pressure in the tank, eliminating the need for the user to pump the sprayer by hand.
Size and Tank Capacity
Pump sprayers vary in wand length and tank size. Wand length determines the distance between the user and the nozzle, which is important when applying pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals that can be harmful if they come into contact with eyes or skin. Most pump sprayers have wands that range in length from 18 to 22 inches.
Tank capacity determines how long the pump sprayer can operate before requiring a refill. Capacity ranges from ¾ gallon for smaller one-hand sprayers and up to 2 gallons for handheld sprayers. Backpack and wheeled sprayers have tank sizes that range from 3 to 6 gallons.
Pump sprayer materials need to be strong enough to endure the fertilizers and chemicals they hold while still being lightweight enough to carry, roll, or wear on one’s back. As such, most pump sprayer basins consist of heavy-duty plastic with wands that have brass, aluminum, or stainless steel nozzles. While pump sprayers with plastic nozzles may be less expensive, brass and stainless steel are more durable and much less likely to crack. These metals also won’t rust or corrode, which makes them ideal for pump sprayers.
Since the user needs to maneuver a pump sprayer around the yard, weight is a key factor. The liquid fertilizers or chemicals that fill the basin make up the majority of the pump sprayer’s total weight, so remember to take that into consideration. A quart of liquid weighs just over 2 pounds, while a gallon weighs a little over 8 pounds. Add the empty weight of the sprayer to the weight of its max capacity to determine the overall weight of the pump sprayer.
Handheld sprayers are the lightest, with an empty weight of about 5 pounds. Backpack sprayers are heavier at around 12 pounds, while wheeled sprayers are the heaviest at around 15 pounds.
The nozzle determines the spray pattern and output volume of the pump sprayer. Most sprayers have adjustable nozzles that change the shape of the spray pattern from a broad fan to a narrow stream by turning it clockwise or counterclockwise. Many sprayers also include multiple nozzles that the user can switch out to suit different types of applications. These interchangeable nozzles typically include a foaming nozzle, an adjustable nozzle, and fan nozzles of varying widths.
Most pump sprayers are built to handle a variety of needs, ranging from weed control to lawn fertilization to pest control, and must be periodically refilled. Some sprayers include a manual or automatic pressure regulator that prevents the tank from overpressurizing, which can put too much pressure on the seals and create leaks or cause the tank to spray chemicals from the opening when the user opens the lid.
Tips for Buying and Using Pump Sprayers
It’s important to follow a few tips and guidelines to maximize the use of a pump sprayer and ensure a long life.
- Spray downwind. Pump sprayers have long wands for a reason. The fertilizers, pesticides, and weed control ingredients present in the chemicals these sprayers distribute are toxic. A 20-inch wand allows the user to operate the sprayer without splashing chemicals on their skin or in their eyes. With that in mind, spray with the wind at your back.
- Choose the right nozzle. Pump sprayers also include different-size nozzles for a reason. Select a wide fan to treat beds and lawns and provide the most coverage while not oversaturating one specific area. Use a stream to target weeds growing through a walk to avoid wasteful overspray. For applying pesticides to shrubs and bushes, use a foaming nozzle.
- Don’t over-pressurize the tank. One common mistake with manual piston pump sprayers is that users over-pressurize them to increase the output. If the sprayer doesn’t have an automatic pressure-relief valve, this can put more strain on the tank and the seal in the nozzle, damaging the seal and leading to leaks.
- Depressurize when finished. Many people use a pump sprayer to treat weeds or fertilize plants, then put it away still loaded with pressure. This pressure creates a constant force on the seals that can cause leaks. Use a pressure-relief valve or unscrew the lid slightly to allow the pressure to release before storing the sprayer.
Our Top Picks
The list below narrows the field of pump sprayers to some of the best options on the market. It includes both manual and battery-powered sprayers of varying types and capacities. Any of the pump sprayers below is a worthy choice for treating one’s lawn and garden.
This pump sprayer from D.B. Smith boasts high-quality construction, multiple nozzles that add versatility, and a large capacity while still being affordable, making it one of the best options for home use. Its 2-gallon capacity is enough to handle larger jobs around the yard, including treating a lawn, larger flower beds, shrubs, and even small trees.
With its five interchangeable nozzles—brass adjustable, poly adjustable, high-performance foaming, and two flat fans—this handheld sprayer is equipped to handle a variety of duties. High-quality gaskets and seals prevent leaks, while a durable plastic tank stands up to the harsh chemicals in fertilizers and pesticides. This manual sprayer also includes handy features such as a lockable trigger on the 21-inch poly wand, a built-in nozzle storage, and a pressure-relief valve.
Like the Best Overall pick, this Roundup pump sprayer features durable construction, a wide variety of nozzles, and a high-capacity tank that make it an ideal option for various tasks, ranging from applying pesticides to fertilizing shrubs. With its 2-gallon capacity, this handheld sprayer is ideal for bigger jobs, such as treating large flower beds, shrubs, or even an entire lawn. It creates pressure through an efficient manual pump that requires 25 percent fewer strokes than other manual sprayers.
The wand features a lockable trigger and includes three nozzle attachments—poly adjustable, high-volume flat fan, and low-volume flat fan—making this pump sprayer suitable for applying pesticides, weed control, or fertilizer. Unlike other sprayers that use a plastic wand, this sprayer has a durable metal wand.
Clearing weeds off a sidewalk once or twice a year and fertilizing smaller gardens and flower beds doesn’t require an expensive pump sprayer. This very affordable model from CHAPIN International is an excellent option for those who need a sprayer for occasional use. With its 1-gallon capacity and 0.5-gallon-per-minute flow rate, this handheld sprayer is well suited to lighter-duty needs, such as pest treatment on rose bushes or battling back those weeds peeking through the cracks in the driveway.
The plastic body is durable enough to contain most fertilizers, weed killers, and pesticides. The manual sprayer features an ergonomic handle that’s easy to operate with an adjustable nozzle and a translucent tank that allows the user to monitor the fluid level easily.
This pro-level Field King backpack sprayer from D.B. Smith boasts a sturdy build and intelligent design. It uses an internal piston pump that keeps the manual sprayer at a constant 25 psi (pounds per square inch) but can be adjusted to deliver up to 150 psi to reach longer distances. High-end seals prevent leaks in the connections to the tube and 21-inch poly wand. An ergonomic grip makes the wand comfortable to use, while the lockable trigger prevents accidental spills.
This model also features an internal paddle that continuously mixes the chemical solution to ensure the wand delivers an even consistency. The four nozzle types include two flat fans, a foaming nozzle, and an adjustable brass nozzle suitable for applying pesticides, weed control, and fertilizers. The waist belt, chest strap, and padded shoulder straps make it comfortable to carry the sprayer’s weighty 4-gallon capacity.
Treating smaller plants in a flower or vegetable garden doesn’t necessarily require a 2-gallon sprayer with multiple nozzle adjustments. Sometimes a more nuanced approach from a smaller hand sprayer, such as this ITISLL manual garden sprayer, is a better choice. With its smaller half-gallon capacity and one-handed design, this sprayer is ideal for treating individual plants in small vegetable gardens or pots.
An adjustable brass nozzle allows for a broad range of spray patterns that vary between a jet stream and a broad fan. A small pump handle on the top of the lid creates pressure, while a safety valve prevents the tank from overpressurizing. A convenient lock switch allows the user to spray continuously without holding the trigger, preventing hand fatigue.
While manually pumping up the pressure in the sprayer tank is fine for smaller jobs, that just won’t do for larger tasks. This battery-powered Field King backpack sprayer from D.B. Smith is a better option. Its 18-volt lithium-ion rechargeable battery will operate the internal pump for up to 4 hours or 50 gallons on a single charge. The sprayer produces 40 psi of pressure, which is adequate for most landscaping needs.
This backpack sprayer also boasts a large 4-gallon capacity. While carrying that weight might be uncomfortable in other models, the sprayer comes equipped with a padded harness for comfort. It is also well built with a powder-coated steel frame and a triple filtration system that prevents sediment from clogging the tubes and wand. Four nozzles, including low-volume and high-volume flat fans, foaming nozzle, and brass adjustable, add versatility.
This battery-powered pump sprayer from Scotts eliminates the periodic pumping that manual sprayers require, making it an ideal option for bigger jobs. With its rechargeable lithium-ion battery, this pump sprayer can spray up to 12 full tanks before needing a recharge. This model is also one of the better-designed handheld pumps on the market. The teardrop shape gives the sprayer a low center of gravity that keeps it upright when not being held.
The 21-inch wand uses high-end seals that resist leaks. Rather than go with interchangeable nozzles, which can easily be misplaced, this sprayer has a single nozzle that rotates between three spray patterns—fan spray, stream spray, and cone spray. A convenient pressure valve prevents accidental sprays during refilling.
This Petra sprayer’s large capacity and ability to spray for long periods at a high psi before requiring a recharge make it an ideal option for farm and commercial landscaping needs. The sprayer uses a rechargeable 12-volt lead-acid battery that provides 6 to 8 hours of spraying, several times that of a lithium-ion battery. The battery recharges to full using the AC recharger in about 8 hours.
A large 6.5-gallon tank provides enough capacity for treating large areas. This versatile sprayer can be worn as a backpack or mounted to a sturdy steel-framed wheeled cart. It also includes a 100-foot hose that allows the user to treat large areas without moving the sprayer. Five changeable nozzles allow for spray patterns ranging from jet stream to light mist.
With a 1.35-gallon tank, this VIVOSUN sprayer has enough capacity for more extensive applications, such as treating a yard, large flower beds, and shrubs, while still being small enough to maneuver easily. A convenient shoulder strap makes it easier to carry, while a weighted bottom prevents the sprayer from tipping over when set down. A clip holds the 22-inch wand securely against the tank when not in use.
A large bowl around the top of the tank serves as a funnel that prevents spills while filling the tank, and the safety valve allows the user to release pressure to prevent chemicals from spraying out while opening the lid. An adjustable nozzle fine-tunes the spray pattern, while a lockable switch prevents the user from having to squeeze the trigger for lengthy applications.
With its sturdy wheels and large handle, this wheeled landscape sprayer from Solo is a solid alternative for those who don’t want to carry or wear a pump sprayer. This 3-gallon sprayer sits on a set of large wheels with a rugged tread pattern that glides easily through yards and over rough terrain. A sturdy aluminum U-shape handle with a soft grip makes pulling this sprayer around the yard an easy task.
Once in place, the long 8-foot hose will reach a broad area without constantly moving and repositioning the sprayer. Other thoughtful features include an automatic pressure-relief valve that prevents chemicals from spraying out when the user opens the lid and an adjustable nozzle that the user can set from a narrow stream to a wide fan.
FAQs About Pump Sprayers
If you’re wondering about the range of your new pump sprayer, the applications for which you can use it, or how to maintain it, then read on for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about these handy gardening tools.
Q. How far will a pump sprayer spray?
The range of a pump sprayer depends on the spray pattern. It will spray the farthest when set to a narrow stream. Moist pump sprayers can spray up to 20 feet with some more powerful sprayers capable of reaching 30 feet.
Q: What do I do if my pump sprayer gets clogged?
If your pump sprayer gets clogged, it’s likely because sediment or dirt has become lodged in the sprayer’s nozzle. Remove the nozzle and clean it with water using a hose. Then, replace the nozzle.
Q: Are pump sprayers safe to use for painting?
You can use a pump sprayer for paint, but you’ll need to dilute the paint with water—1 part paint to 3 parts water—to make it thin enough so as not to clog the sprayer’s nozzle. This means that you’ll need to coat the surface about four times to have the equivalent coverage of a brush.
Q: How do I clean my pump sprayer?
To clean your pump sprayer, begin by rinsing out the tank with fresh water. Once clean, fill the tank with fresh water and then assemble the sprayer. Spray fresh water through the tube and nozzle to clean any chemicals out of it. Remove the nozzle and rinse it using a hose.
Q: Are pump sprayers effective for spraying pests?
Yes. Pump sprayers are a good option for applying pest control. However, they tend to distribute liquids at a high volume, so they may be unsuitable for indoor use.
Q: Are pump sprayers safe around my pets and children?
Pump sprayers themselves do not produce enough force—significantly less than a garden hose—to pose a threat to pets and children. That said, most of the time, these sprayers are spraying toxic chemicals, so keep children and pets away when using them.
Q: What precautions should I take when using a pump sprayer?
Wear gloves and goggles to protect the skin and eyes from the dangerous chemicals the pump sprayer distributes. Use the wand’s length to help you maintain a safe distance from the nozzle, and spray downwind to prevent the chemicals from being blown back at you.