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What Should I Use to Water My Lawn?

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

Hose-end Sprinklers:

These are the most common types of sprinklers used and come in all different types and flavors. For our purposes, we'll cover the 5 most commonly used, from the most common down:
    Oscillating Sprinkler
    Oscillating Sprinkler
  1. Oscillating Sprinklers have become more popular over recent years due to their ability to cover square-type areas and their ease in handling and adjusting to fit patterns. They can be recognized by their rectangular appearance with a single horizontal rod that shoots water in streams up into the air in a linear fashion.
  2. Impulse Sprinklers have been around a long time and are commonly associated with a clicking sound that emanates from the arm that strikes the stream of water. The head of the sprinkler generally travels in a circular motion, hence covering the lawn in circular, or half-circle spreads. Some people are so impressed by the mechanical marvel that they have been known to imitate the impulse "sprinkler effect" on the dance floor. God help us all!
  3. Impulse Sprinkler
    Impulse Sprinkler
    Box or Cone Sprinkler
    Box or Cone Sprinkler
  4. Box and/or Cone Sprinklers are, as you would guess, generally formed in the shape of a box or cone. The more modern versions have adjustable heads that can spray water in a number of fashions and directions. Unlike the Oscillating and Impulse versions, these sprinklers are generally limited to covering smaller areas and "spot" spraying. So don't let its relatively cheap price or its fancy looks fool you, it does NOT do it all.
  5. Revolving-arm sprayers are unlike the before mentioned due to their ability to spray out of two ends simultaneously. They commonly contain one long twisted rod that propels water out of both ends while spinning in a circle. Much like the impulse sprinklers, they generally cover circular areas but tend to only reach a little more than half of the area. Again, if you're looking to cover the most area as possible, this may not be the best choice.
  6. Creeping Sprinklers often take the resemblance of a small tractor as their two rear wheels slowly move the sprinkler over the lawn while watering. They often disperse water with a revolving-arm and can be quite inconsistent. This type of sprinkler likes to move itself, thereby allowing you to tend to the more important things in life. But don't be fooled if you think this is the answer. You may want to think again. Because your sprinkler likes to move, don't be surprised if you get a call from your neighbor when the sprinkler has decided to move into his yard, or even the street. Our point is, you will still have to eventually move the thing, and it's more on its schedule then yours.
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In-Ground Sprinkler Systems:

If you have a neighbor with a great looking lawn but don't see him laboring over it as much as you do, chances are he has a sprinkler system installed. The reason why you probably don't notice it is that most systems should spray in the very early morning (usually starting at 5 a.m.) while you're still sleeping. The beauty of this system is that it does the work with very minimal effort on your part. Most systems have control boxes (usually in the garage) that allow the homeowner to pre-set the watering schedule for the lawn. Additionally, sprinkler heads are usually installed with each area in mind and how much water it should get and where. In short, there's no more need to memorize that perfect spot to put your hose-end sprinkler and how much water is just right to send through it!

If you want a nice lawn without all the time-consuming work, then consider one of these systems. If you're building a new home, try to install one prior to the builder laying the sod or seed. If you already have a lawn, try getting a free estimate from a sprinkler system company in your area (see: Lawn Companies & Services in your Area for a company near you that can either install your system and/or give free estimates). In-ground sprinkler systems are not very expensive if you consider the time and money you may save to get your lawn looking good. They can also add to the value of your home when it comes time to sell it!

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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