How to Select the Correct Sprinkler System for Your Lawn

Having a lush, vibrant lawn is the ideal for homeowners all across the country. But keeping a lawn green and watered under the Australian sun can be a challenge. If you love your lawn, you should consider installing a well-designed sprinkler system that is tailored to its exact needs.

Here at the Irrigation Shop, we've helped countless homeowners over the years find the right sprinkler system for their backyards. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the key factors to consider when choosing a sprinkler system. To start out, there are three factors that you’ll need to consider when deciding on your sprinkler system: flow rate, lawn size and sprinkler placement.

How to Calculate Your Flow Rate

Knowing your flow rate helps determine the technical aspects of the sprinkler system components. If you plan on running your sprinkler system from the mains water supply, you can calculate your flow rate using the bucket test:

  1. Find a bucket or tub that you know the volume of.
  2. Find the tap closest to where your solenoid valves for the irrigation system will draw from. Turn the tap on full bore with the bucket or tub underneath.
  3. Irrigation systems are usually run early in the morning, so your flow rate will be more accurate if you test it before 6-7am.
  4. Using a timer, record how long the water takes to fill the container.
  5. You’re done! Let us know the time and container size and we’ll calculate your available flow rate.

    Lawn Size

    The size of your lawn plays a significant role in determining the appropriate sprinkler system for your needs. Your sprinkler system should effectively cover your entire lawn and distribute water efficiently. Here’s an overview of how your lawn size can affect your sprinkler system: 

    Coverage area

    If you have a small lawn, a simple stationary sprinkler or a small oscillating sprinkler might be sufficient. However, for larger lawns, you might need a more advanced system like a rotor sprinkler or a multi-zone system with multiple sprinkler heads to cover the entire area effectively.

    Water pressure

    Larger lawns often require sprinkler systems that can handle higher water pressure to ensure adequate coverage. If your water pressure is low, it may limit your options for sprinkler systems, especially those that require high pressure for optimal performance. Water pressure in major cities can also decrease as they grow larger. Watch the video below to learn more:  

    Water conservation

    A larger lawn generally requires more water to irrigate properly. For larger lawns you might want to consider sprinkler systems that offer adjustable water saving features. These features can help optimize water usage and minimize waste, which becomes more important as lawn size increases.

    System design and complexity

    For smaller lawns, a simple, standalone sprinkler system may suffice. As your lawn size increases, you may need to consider more complex designs, such as multiple zones with different sprinkler heads or even a programmable controller to manage different watering schedules for various areas of your lawn.

    Maintenance and cost

    Larger lawns often require more maintenance and can increase the cost of installing and maintaining a sprinkler system. The more extensive the system, the more sprinkler heads, pipes, and valves you may need. Additionally, larger lawns might require professional installation or assistance to ensure proper coverage and system efficiency.

    Sprinkler Placement

    You will also need to consider your sprinkler coverage when deciding on a lawn sprinkler system:

    Above Ground Sprinkler Systems vs. In-Ground Sprinkler Systems

    You’ll also need to decide on whether you want to use in-ground or above ground sprinklers. Below is a break down of the differences:

    Installation As the names suggest, in-ground sprinklers are installed below the ground, while above-ground sprinklers are installed above the ground. In-ground sprinklers require a more involved installation process, including digging trenches and laying pipes underground. Above-ground sprinklers can be set up on the surface without the need for extensive digging.
    Appearance In-ground sprinklers are concealed when not in use. They pop up when activated and retract back into the ground once the watering cycle is complete. This feature helps maintain the appearance of the lawn since there are no visible sprinkler heads. Above-ground sprinklers are visible on the surface and typically consist of a base or stake, a riser, and a sprinkler head.
    Functionality In-ground sprinklers are known for their precision and customisation options. They can be designed to cover specific areas or zones, and the water flow can be adjusted to meet the needs of different plants or areas. They also often provide better coverage and distribution of water. Above-ground sprinklers are generally less precise and may have limited coverage. They are commonly used for smaller areas.
    Maintenance and Protection In-ground sprinklers are protected from physical damage since they are concealed when not in use. However, they may require occasional maintenance, such as cleaning or replacing clogged or damaged sprinkler heads. Above-ground sprinklers are more exposed to potential damage. They are relatively easier to access and maintain but may need to be moved or stored when not in use.
    Cost In general, in-ground sprinkler systems tend to be more expensive to install due to the excavation work and the need for additional equipment, such as control valves and timers. Above-ground sprinklers are usually more affordable and easier to install, making them a popular choice for budget-friendly irrigation solutions.

    Here at The Irrigation Shop, we have a full range of lawn sprinklers for our customers. Read on to find out more about sprinkler types.

    Best Sprinklers for Big Lawns

    Rotary Sprinklers (In-Ground)

    Rotary sprinklers are a common choice for large lawns. They have rotating arms that distribute water in a circular pattern, providing even coverage. These sprinklers can cover a wide area and are adjustable to control the spray distance.

    Impact Sprinklers (Above Ground)

    Impact sprinklers are sturdy, durable, and versatile. They operate by rotating on a bearing and make a distinctive clicking sound. They can cover large areas and are suitable for irregularly shaped lawns.

    Oscillating Sprinklers (Above Ground)

    Oscillating sprinklers feature a long tube with several nozzles that move back and forth, creating a fan-shaped spray pattern. They are known for their simplicity and affordability. 

    Pop-Up Sprinklers (In-Ground)

    Pop-up sprinklers are installed below ground level and only emerge when activated. They provide a neat and unobtrusive appearance when not in use. These sprinklers often come with adjustable heads that allow you to control the spray pattern, radius, and arc.

    Gear-Driven Sprinklers (In-Ground)

    Gear-driven sprinklers are known for their reliability and efficiency. They use gears to rotate the nozzle and provide consistent water distribution. 

    Traveling Sprinklers (Above Ground)

    Traveling sprinklers are self-propelled sprinkler systems that move along a hose, covering a large area as they go. They can water the entire area without requiring manual repositioning.

    Best Sprinklers for Small Lawns

    For small lawns, your best options are generally above ground sprinklers: 

    Fixed Spray Sprinklers

    Fixed spray sprinklers are simple and affordable options for small lawns. They have a fixed spray pattern and are designed to cover a specific radius. These sprinklers are available in various designs, such as spray heads or misters, and can be adjusted to water specific areas.

    Micro Sprinklers 

    Micro sprinklers are designed for precise and targeted watering. They are ideal for small areas or specific plantings within your lawn. Micro sprinklers often have adjustable heads and can provide gentle, low-volume irrigation to prevent overwatering.

    Sprinkler Nozzles 

    Sprinkler nozzles can be attached to a hose or mounted on a tripod. They offer flexibility and convenience for small lawns, allowing you to control the water flow and coverage area. Sprinkler nozzles come in various types, such as adjustable spray patterns or misting heads.

    Rotary sprinklers, oscillating sprinklers and impact sprinklers can also be used for smaller lawns if they are adjusted and positioned properly. 

    What’s the Best Sprinkler for a Lawn With an Irregular Shape?

    For a lawn with an irregular shape, oscillating sprinklers will generally be your best bet. You can also use rotary sprinklers, impact sprinklers and gear driven sprinklers. 

    Speak to the Irrigation Experts at The Irrigation Shop 

    Ready to install a sprinkler system for your backyard? Speak to the irrigation experts at The Irrigation Shop today! We can design you a sprinkler system for free and give you advice on installation. Learn more about our design service here. If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us