Struggling to find the best value when it comes to watering your parched lawn? You’re not alone. With a flooded marketplace, it can seem like an impossible task to find the best oscillating sprinkler for your money – luckily we’re here to help you.
Here are five of the best options to get your search started.
How is a layman to know which sprinkler system is the best for them? First thing you want to do is factor in the size and spread of your lawn. If you can get away with a smaller sprinkler system, then a more portable oscillating sprinkler might be the best choice for you, as you can simply reposition it every day or so to give an even spread.
Obviously, the opposite applies if you have a large yard – a bigger sprinkler is going to accommodate the space. However, you also want to consider the type of terrain you have (is it rugged? Rocky? On a slope?). Before deciding, some oscillating sprinklers have anchored feet to grip hilly lawns better, for example.
Get a strong idea of what your yard needs before looking at the market and being bamboozled by different advertisements!
Another big aspect of choosing the correct equipment is the amount of nozzles the sprinkler head has and how far the water arc can reach at full capacity. The more nozzles, the wider the spread of water and the more customization you’ll have. The same applies to the range of the sprinkler: the further the range, the more ground it can cover in your garden from one fixed position.
A high quality, conservative sprinkler system will use water sparingly. Spreading only what’s needed, rather than flooding your garden and running your water costs up, which can take a heavy toll in arid climates.
Some more technical oscillating sprinkler systems come with a sensor inbuilt, which will turn the sprinkler off when rainwater is detected or after a certain period of time. This takes you out of the equation altogether, which I find hugely beneficial… Who has the time to water their garden every day?
Did you know an oscillating sprinkler is one of 10 essential tools for your lawn? Find out here!
A good, high quality sprinkler system (such as one with an inbuilt rain sensor) will likely be a more expensive purchase. This is fine if you see it as an investment for years to come, but definitely not something worth buying if you’re only going to use it a few days out of the year.
For more technical sprinkler systems it’s much more effective to have a professional technician install and tweak the equipment to make sure you’re getting the most out of it… Again, though, this can rack up some costs on your own end.
Smaller oscillating sprinkler systems might not reach every inch of your lawn. This means you’ll have to drag it around and reposition it every so often for an even spread. Something I wish I’d thought about before I made my own cheap purchase!
Things to Look Out For With Oscillating Sprinklers
We know that choosing the best sprinkler will depend on the needs of your garden, the size of the space and the climate in your area.
But which aspects of oscillating sprinklers set them apart from one another?
#1 - Rotation Control
A sprinkler with an easily adjustable ‘head’ (i.e. sprinkler nozzles) is much more beneficial than one with a limited or stationary head.
The better the control, the easier it is to spread to the awkward corners of your garden.
#2 - Robustness
Naturally, as with all outdoor products, you want to compare the robustness of oscillating sprinklers.
Due to the moving parts and repeated swiveling action, cheap or flimsy oscillating systems can break much quicker than stationary sprinklers.
It’ll come as no surprise, though: the more robust, the more it’ll cost.
#3 - Range and Distance
Most sprinklers will advertise the range of the water’s arc, which gives you an idea of how much ground you can cover from a fixed position.
Keep this in mind when choosing the best product for you – larger might not always be better.
#4 - Difficulty
As noted above, some more complex or technical sprinklers might need a professional to come along to install it.
Most are fairly user-friendly, though (if I can manage it, anybody can) – just check with the store before purchase!
This sprinkler comes with a varied selection of adjustments (width, length and water flow). It can provide the customer with coverage between 76 and 2,300 square feet, meaning it could suit those with medium-large sized yards.
Despite its range and heft, the actual sprinkler itself is fairly compact and portable. So, it easy to position around the garden, even into those awkward spaces in the corners.
The gear mechanism of the oscillator itself is sealed and waterproofed. This should help to keep it functioning for long after the purchase, all things going well. Additionally, this product is built on a weighted base to keep it fixed in position whilst it works.
Despite the heavy-duty build of the sprinkler, some customers have had problems with the connections beginning to spring leaks after storing through the winter seasons.
Some Pros can also be Cons at times. In this instance, the weighted base could be a disadvantage for someone less able-bodied, as it’ll make repositioning it around the yard more difficult, despite the sprinkler unit’s small size
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: The Melnor Green Thumb sprinkler is also marketed as being ‘heavy duty’, which it is – as the entire body and base is made from a hard metal, boosting its durability.
This sprinkler has a fairly intuitive adjustment process for customers to finely tune the type of spread and range they want from the equipment. In fact, the width control is marketed as being ‘one touch').
This product is also designed with a turbo drive in its oscillating motor, which should help with any power issues or slowing down in the mechanism over time.
Additional to all of this: the Melnor 4200 has a maximum spread range of 3,900 square feet. So it’d be the ideal choice for customers with larger yards.
The retail price is highly impressive for the heft and power of this sprinkler.
Unfortunately, given the robustness of the design and materials used (aluminum), not to mention the wide nature of it. This sprinkler is quite a cumbersome piece of equipment. It might prove difficult to reposition without some heavy-lifting on the customer’s part.
Although the sprinkler is proud of its aluminum base, the nozzles and oscillating tube themselves are plastic by design. This will make it just as susceptible to leakage and perishing as any other plastic sprinkler on the market.
Despite being another Melnor product, this sprinkler does differ from the 4200 MGT model. Namely in its materials and build. Namely in its materials and build – this sprinkler is made from a durable ABS plastic. So, it's much lighter and more portable around the garden.
This product also has an impressive range of coverage, starting from 874 square feet and then adjustable up to 3,900 square feet. It will be another possible choice for large yards.
The actual sprinkler tube itself comes with an impressive eighteen individual spray nozzles. It means a wider and more far-reaching arc when it’s running. Add this to the turbo motor and you have a fairly powerful sprinkler system.
The adjustment tabs and levers, although plentiful, are fairly intuitive and easy to gauge.
Above all else, this particular model is one of the cheapest oscillating sprinklers on the higher-end of the market.
Although the plastic build materials will make this sprinkler very portable, it also drastically reduces how robust and strong the actual device is.
The much lauded turbo motor within the oscillating system has actually been known to be a little bit of a curse. It can quickly burn out or damage the oscillating mechanism, causing it to seize up or freeze in a fixed position.
This product comes with ‘flow control’ supposedly for better management of the water pressure and nature of the water’s arc. But it doesn’t seem to have helped many customers with a drop in water pressure after long periods of use.
Another Gardena model here – the 3400 Comfort model sets itself apart from some of its brethren by covering a maximum spread of 3,900 square feet. Additional to this, it also includes a removable plug to aide water flow and prevent any clogging within the mechanism.
As with a lot of popular and high-end oscillating sprinklers, this model has a fairly sleek and user-friendly set of adjusters. It's very easy for laymen to simply plug in the product, tweak it to their liking and let it go.
This is a fairly lightweight model of sprinkler due to its unique aesthetic design (hole-punched along the base) and the plastic materials used for production.
Due to the cheaper materials – this model has been known to malfunction fairly quickly with repeated use, particularly in the oscillating mechanism itself.
Yet another inclusion from the Gardena family – this ZoomMaxx step spike is different yet again, namely in its design and construction. Rather than a barreled base, this product is hammered like a fence-post into the ground and stands upright.
This sprinkler is designed with a respectable sixteen rubber nozzles, providing an even distribution when all are open and functioning. They can be disabled with some user adjustment.
Due to its vertical nature, the spray head itself can be swiveled in any direction to provide a bit more accessibility for the oscillator and to ensure an even spread of water.
This sprinkler has a fairly short range and spread in terms of its square footage – coming in at around 1,500 square feet at maximum.
Due to the oscillator having to drag the heavy sprinkler head back and forth – this product has been known to stop oscillating after long periods of use. Plus, the nature of the design almost begs for the user to damage the casing when he or she stabs it into the ground.
What’s it to Be?
Speaking from experience as a customer, it’s a hard bunch to choose from. Each model has its own advantages and disadvantages accordingly, and it’s a tough market with lots of competition.
Melnor’s sprinkler seems guaranteed to give an even, water-conscious spread for your garden (particularly if it’s a larger area) whilst being sturdy and long-lasting for many summers’ use. This is a delicate balance that some of the other brands on the market fall just short of.
Hello, I’m Laura Bennett. I love nature especially when it comes to flowers and different kinds of plants. I started a very small garden behind my house and I named it Humid Garden. So, I created this blog to provide aspiring and inspiring thoughts about gardening for gardeners and anyone who has the intention of keeping a garden.