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Different Kinds of Sprinkler Heads for In-Ground Irrigation Systems

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Different Kinds of Sprinkler Heads for In-Ground Irrigation Systems

Without in-ground irrigation, many residential and commercial property owners use excessive amounts of water to maintain a healthy and bright-green landscape, costing them more money than what’s necessary.

To this end, water irrigation systems are much more effective at putting the exact amount of water your grass needs in the right spots, exactly when it’s needed. However, every landscape is different and requires the proper sprinkler head to boost the efficiency of its irrigation system.

sprinkler heads

In this article, you’ll receive in-depth information about the three different kinds of sprinkler heads to help you make the best decision for your property.

Sprinkler Heads: Spray

Commonly referred to as “fixed spray heads”, these small heads spray a fan-shaped pattern of water, much similar to a shower nozzle in your bathroom. Many spray heads utilize interchangeable nozzles that are installed on the sprinkler to produce a unique pattern (½ circle, full circle, etc) and the radius of the water’s reach.

There are some specialty spray heads that are available for narrow, long areas. Additionally, spray heads are positioned up to 18 feet apart, and it typically needs between 20 to 30 PSI of water pressure to perform at maximum efficiency.

Sprinkler Heads: Rotors

Rotors are the most common type of sprinkler head for in-ground irrigation systems. The term is used to describe a series of sprinklers that rotate concentrated streams of water in circles or back and forth over a landscape.

Impact rotors, like many sprinklers you may have seen in someone’s yard or landscape, move back and forth and make a distinctive “tooka, tooka, tooka, tic, tic, tic” sound. Nowadays, impact rotors are rapidly being replaced by quieter and compact gear-driven rotors. Rotors can be separated from 8 to 65 feet apart. Although there are rotors that can be spaced beyond 65 feet, it’s recommended that you avoid using them. That’s because spacings over 20 feet require far more PSI pressure than spray heads to operate properly.

Thus, if you want to space your rotors over 20 feet apart, you’ll need at least 30 PSI of pressure since most of the pressure will be lost in the valves and pipes as the water flows to the sprinklers.

Rotary Nozzles & Rotators

In recent years, a new type of miniature rotors has become extremely popular. These rotors are commonly called rotator or rotary nozzles. Although many manufacturers classify these devices as spray heads, rotary nozzles are very small and generally fit onto a smaller spray-type sprinklers.

Rotator/rotary nozzles are more efficient than standard spray heads because they generate less mist that dissipates before it reaches the ground. This is why water conservation agencies promote these nozzles over standard spray heads.

Rotator/rotary nozzles have a typical radius between 15 and 35 feet. They look like rotating spider legs by producing multiple streams of water that rotate around the nozzle.


For additional information about the life expectancy of a sprinkler system, or irrigation systems in general, please contact Sentry Irrigation at (843) 478-9452 or


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