5 Types of Sprinkler Heads to Get Your Grass Growing

Jess Lynk
Written by Jess Lynk
Reviewed by Tara Dudley
Updated May 26, 2022
Irrigation of grass with sprinkler system
catto32 - stock.adobe.com

Choose the right sprinkler head alongside a professional system to create a fresh, effortless yard

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Having a lush, green yard can be time-consuming and frustrating, but with the help of a lawn sprinkler system, your lawn can quickly become the best on the block. Working with the right sprinkler head and sprinkler installation professional will optimize your water use, giving you the perfect place for touch football, games of tag, or just lounging.

Before you begin your decision-making process, note the size of your yard and the types of plants growing so you can assess what sprinkler head and spray pattern is the best fit.

1. Pop-Up Sprinkler Head

A water sprinkler on the ground
Photo: Toni Faint / Moment / Getty Images

Many home systems use pop-up sprinkler heads. These sprinkler systems rise from the ground when the water pressure activates the sprinkler, and go underground when the system shuts off. They provide even water distribution and spray at a low angle. 

Ideal for:

  • Any size yard

  • Side yards

  • Gardens

2. Spray Irrigation Heads

A fixed spray sprinkler head produces a solid, continuous stream of water that can reach up to 15 feet. Basically, the sprinkler puts out a lot of water really fast. If you live in a windy place, this is not the sprinkler head for you. 

Ideal for:

  • Small or medium-sized lawns

  • Shrubs

  • Ground covers

3. Rotary Nozzle Sprinkler Heads

A rotary nozzle sprays one continuous stream of water while it rotates around. This head spreads the water more slowly than spray sprinkler heads. They work best for slow draining lawns and slopes, where flooding is common. Because these sprinkler heads stream water out, this sprinkler has less runoff and wasted water. The wind does not blow the water away easily.

Ideal for:

  • Medium or large lawns

  • Side yards

4. Impact Sprinkler Head

View of impact sprinkler head
Photo: kimtaro2008 / Adobe Stock

Known for its ticking sound, impact sprinklers cover a lot of ground as they rotate and spray up to a 150-foot radius. Most impact sprinkler heads can be adjusted with a nozzle to water a smaller radius. Because these heads have an uninterrupted flow, they are less vulnerable to clogging, making them ideal for systems supplied by mineral-heavy well water.

Ideal for:

  • Large yards

  • Yards watered by well water

5. Gear-Driven Systems

Gear-driven sprinkler heads rotate at a uniform speed and offer a lot of flexibility. These sprinkler heads are smooth and quiet and allow for uniform watering of your yard. Gear-driven sprinkler systems come with nozzles to enable you to match your sprinkler head with your lawn needs. 

Ideal for:

  • Medium or large yards

  • Side yards

You can mix and match sprinkler heads depending on the plants in your landscape arrangement. If you go this route, pay attention to how much water flows from each head, as you do not want to overwater your plants.

“Ideally, a dripline is recommended rather than sprinkler heads for landscape plants, as overhead watering can cause leaf spot and disease issues on a lot of ornamental plants,” says Tara Dudley, Angi Expert Review Board member and owner of Plant Life Designs. “Sprinkler heads are mostly recommended for turf grass areas.”

Can You Install Your Own Sprinkler Heads?

Once you’ve determined the optimal sprinkler head set-up, it’s time to call in the pros. Sprinkler head installation is labor intensive and complicated. Not to mention, you run the risk of hitting utilities.

For new construction installations, It’s best to install the sprinkler heads after the landscape beds have been created, before any turf grass has been installed.

“There are other things you can do in the landscape if you want to invest some of your time to save some money. Irrigation’s one of the last things I’d suggest,” says Jim Brandon of Landmark DBM in Indianapolis.

Whether you are looking to install a new system or upgrade an old one, doing thorough research on price, sprinkler heads, and the system as a whole can save you time and money. And, remember, troubleshooting your sprinkler system problems can save you quite a bit compared to replacing it.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.