There is a wide range of irrigation products available for residential use. How do homeowners pick which sprinklers to use on their property? The good news is that most professional irrigation companies advise homeowners on how to best design the system that works for them. Ultimately though, it is up to the resident to decide how their lawn gets watered. This week, join us as we explore and explain the different kinds of sprinkler heads available for residential use.

For irrigation companies, there are two primary kind of sprinkler heads that they produce.

Spray Heads

Spray head sprinklers are stationary and simply spray water out of the sprinkler in a radius around the head. The covers for the top can be changed out in order to limit or expand the sprinkled area. For example, If a sprinkler butts up against a sidewalk, the cover on top would not have holes on the side of the sprinkler head that faces the sidewalk. This avoids wasting water on materials that don’t need it, like cement.

The furthest apart that spray heads can be placed is approximately 18 feet apart. However, most irrigation contractors only place them about 15 feet apart. The spray heads have a lower water pressure, so they cannot be spread out too much. A lot of modern spray heads are actually pop-up spray heads.


Rotors are referred to as such, because they rotate. Instead of spraying water out from a stationary point, they spray water in an even circle or arc around the point of origin. For rotors there are actually a few different subtypes.

Pop-Up Rotors

This type of rotor is the one most commonly used in residential irrigation. Rotors reach a much broader distance than spray heads do. The pop-up rotors for residential use reach up to 30 feet in distance. The extended spray distance means that pop-up rotors are better suited to larger yards.

Impact Sprinklers

Impact sprinklers are rotor sprinklers that are more commonly used in commercial irrigation, particularly on sports fields and golf courses. However, for people with very large yard, impact sprinklers may be the best option. In fact, impact sprinklers reach a distance of nearly 150 feet. It truly requires a couple of acres to make impact sprinklers worth installing.

Impact sprinklers are best known for their distinct “tic, tic, tic” sound. In fact, their distinct motion and noise inspired the common ‘dad dance’ known as The Sprinkler. This is because the impact sprinkler works a little differently than the others. Essentially, the sprinkler sprays the water out of the head, and a mechanized arms hits against the spray. The impact of the arm is what makes the “tic” noise and it spreads the jet of water in a wide arc.