If your home didn't come equipped with an underground sprinkler system, you'll need to create an above-ground sprinkler system yourself to ensure your yard gets the water it needs. Fortunately, there are plenty of versatile products that take the hassle out of watering your lawn, flowerbeds, and vegetable garden every morning.
To help you keep your lawn and garden looking their best, we've rounded up our picks for the best above-ground sprinkler system. But first, let's break down exactly what above-ground sprinklers are.
What is an above-ground sprinkler system?
'Above-ground sprinkler system' is an umbrella term that refers to any portable sprinkler system that operates above ground instead of being connected to an underground irrigation system. Unlike these automated sprinklers systems, you'll need to manually place the sprinkler where you want it and remember to turn the sprinkler system on and off.
An irrigation system or underground sprinkler system is suitable for nurturing your plants' roots, and water needs to penetrate the soil in depth. But it can be costly to install. Unless you are growing fruits and vegetables for a living, it is not worth installing the irrigation system.
While above-ground sprinkler systems are an ideal way to keep your lawn green in the summer, they can also be used for the daily watering of your flowerbeds and garden. Additionally, many styles make for a great kid's activity on a hot summer day.
Types of Above-Ground Sprinklers
Sprinklers come in a range of styles, each of which comes with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are the three most common types of above-ground sprinkler systems and the lawns they're best-suited for:
Oscillating sprinklers move back and forth in a wave-like motion to disperse water evenly over a large area. These versatile sprinklers can typically cover up to 4,000 square feet and typically feature multiple water pressure settings. While they're great for rectangular yards, they may leave dry, unwatered patches in odd-shaped areas.
A pulsating sprinkler sprays water in a circular motion as it pivots on a stationary head. These powerful sprinkler heads can cover areas up to 10,000 square feet, making them one of the most efficient ways to water a large yard or garden. But heads up, they can be a bit noisy compared to other oscillating and stationary sprinklers.
Unlike styles with a moving water flow, stationary sprinklers have a single spray pattern (and often a single water pressure setting). They're perfect for watering gardens, flowerbeds, and small lawns.
While the three styles may seem similar, choosing the right one is important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, choosing a sprinkler that's well-suited for the shape of your yard helps to save water and reduce your environmental impact. Not to mention the money you'll save on your next water bill. Plus, driveways, sidewalks, and pathways can become a slippery safety hazard when wet.
What is the best above-ground sprinkler system?
Ready to start shopping? Before you race to the home improvement store or garden center, you'll want to determine what the best above-ground sprinkler system is for your set-up. Here are a few things you'll want to keep in mind when searching for the perfect sprinklers:
Deciding between a stationary, pulsating, and oscillating sprinkler will streamline your search significantly.
If you have a larger yard, you'll want a sprinkler with a large spray range or spray radius to reduce the number of times you'll need to move the sprinkler during watering.
Some models come equipped with adjustable water pressure and spray pattern settings to help you customize the water output to your yard's specific needs.
Durable, weather-proof materials
Look for sprinkler heads made with durable materials like a heavy-duty metal base and high-quality hose connectors that can withstand frequent use and constant exposure to the elements without rusting, cracking, or degrading. Avoid cheap products made primarily of plastic and pot for those made with metal and rubber instead.
Additionally, you'll want a product with rubber nozzles that won't get clogged with build-up. This ensures a consistently uniform spray pattern and eliminates the need for cleaning and maintenance.
Set a budget that finds the right balance between an affordable price and a high-quality product. Spending a bit more on a trusted brand can reduce the likelihood of clogs, leaks, and a broken sprinkler a few years down the line.
Now, without further ado, let's examine the best sprinklers on the market today.
The Best Above Ground Sprinkler System
Aqua Joe Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler
Aqua Joe's Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler is undoubtedly one of the best products on the market. Unlike other models, this oscillating sprinkler is equipped with an adjustable range and width control that allows you to customize the spray pattern to better fit the size and shape of your lawn. Its durable design features 18 clog-resistant rubber nozzle heads, a powerful turbo drive motor, and a leak-proof hose connector.
All you'll need to do is connect the sprinkler to any standard garden hose, adjust the flow to your liking, and let it do its thing!
Coverage area— 4,500 sq. feet
You can enjoy a green lawn all summer long with Nelson's Rain Train Traveling Sprinkler. The innovative design propels the rotating sprinkler head along a customizable hose path that can reach multiple hard-to-water places in a single watering session. Plus, an auto shut-off water ramp allows you to fix it and forget it while preventing water waste.
The watering system is constructed with a cast-iron body coated in chip-resistant, powder-coat paint and a sprinkler head with two adjustable spray arms that offer a coverage range of 15 to 55 feet in diameter. Gardeners can choose between three speed settings to adjust water saturation levels and prevent over- or under-watering.
Coverage area— 13,500 sq. feet
This Adjustable 4-Way Oscillating Sprinkler from the Eden Store makes watering easy and hassle-free every time. It's designed with a heavy-duty weighted base, sixteen clog-resistant nozzles, a turbo-drive motor, and rust-proof, impact-resistant materials for maximum stability and durability. Plus, the twist-and-lock connector prevents the sprinkler from accidentally disconnecting from your garden hose during use.
But the four adjustable settings are what really sets Eden Store's Adjustable 4-Way Oscillating Sprinkler apart from other products on the market. Users can adjust water width, length, and flow using integrated control dials. And the spray head can be adjusted at a full 360-degrees to precise water narrow spaces and hard-to-reach spots.
Coverage area— 4,069 sq. feet
If you have a small yard, stick to something that's simple, straightforward, and easy to use— like this KEREN Metal Above-Ground Sprinkler. The stationary sprinkler head features a water-saving design with a circular spray pattern and low-pressure mist. In addition to small to medium-sized yards, it's ideal for watering gardens, narrow spaces, and oddly-shaped patches. Despite its compact size and affordable price, the small yard sprinkler still offers a wide coverage range and long product life.
Coverage area— 250 sq. feet
Orbit's innovative Traveling Sprinkler Watering System is a no-fuss way to keep your lawn looking its best. The water pressure power self-propelled traveling sprinkler can travel along any hose path created, making it an excellent choice for extra-large or oddly-shaped lawns. Plus, three adjustable speed settings allow you to customize water saturation to give your lawn just the right amount of moisture.
The dependable sprinkler features a rust-proof cast-iron body fitted with spiked rear wheels, durable gears, and two rotating aluminum arms with an adjustable diameter ranging from 15 to 50 feet. While adjustable rotary design ensures uniform spray coverage every time, the automatic shut-off function ensures that not a drop of water goes to waste.
Coverage area— 13,500 sq. feet
While Trazon's Rotating Garden Sprinkler Head boasts a simple, straightforward design, it's still one of the most versatile sprinklers on the market in 2021. It's ideal for medium and large-sized lawns— and its rotating spray is perfect for small kids who love running through the sprinkler!
The rotating sprinkler comes equipped with 360-degree rotation and adjustable nozzles for a customizable spray that can disperse water evenly and prevent brown patches. Plus, the sprinkler comes equipped with not one but two connectors, allowing you to chain together multiple sprinklers to water larger areas in less time.
Coverage area— 3,000 sq. feet
This versatile Turbo Adjustable Oscillating Sprinkler from Melnor provides maximum coverage with minimal effort. Some options even come equipped with a built-in mechanical timer that allows you to set it and forget it without risking overwatering!
Its straightforward design features twenty precision rubber nozzles and an infinity turbo-drive motor that make for smooth operation and even coverage every time. The user-friendly twin-touch adjustments allow you to control the width of the spray for a narrow flower bed or long side yard next to your garage. Plus, you can rest easy knowing its high-quality materials are backed by Melnor's lifetime guarantee.
Coverage area— 4,500 sq. feet
If you have a medium-large lawn, then you must check out Rainbird's 5000 series rotor sprinkler heads that can water from 25-50 feet—producing large water droplets to prevent wind resistance, misting, and airborne evaporation.
The solid construction of the Rainbow rotary sprinkler offers reliable and hard-wearing performance. Designed with heavy-duty cover assembly for extra durability, self-flushing arc, and retract spring to assume positive pop-down.
Coverage area - 25 to 50 feet per nozzle