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How to Choose and Use Lawn Sprinklers

Watering smartly with This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook.

In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook demonstrates how to water smartly with a lawn sprinkler.


  1. Water lawn deeply and infrequently. Sandy soils dry out quickly; loamy soils and clay soils tend to hold water.
  2. As a general rule, hydrate your lawn 1 inch of water per week. Note, however, that it's best to water twice per week, dispensing ½ inch of water each time.
  3. Use a rain gauge to measure the amount of water emitted from the sprinkler.
  4. Run the sprinkler for 30 minutes, then check the rain gauge. Quick calculations will reveal how much water per hour is being applied.
  5. Also use a rain gauge to measure rainfall so that you don't over-water the lawn.
  6. Oscillating fan-type sprinklers are great for large, square lawns.
  7. For small lawns, choose a sprinkler that sprays a concise square pattern.
  8. Rotary sprinklers have spinning arms that throw water in a circular pattern.
  9. Pulsating sprinkler has a spike for easy installation anywhere on the lawn. It will throw a 360-degree spray, or you can set stops for watering any angle.
  10. Install a quick-connect coupling to end of garden hose so you can quickly attach and detach the hose from the spray nozzle or sprinkler.
  11. Water lawns very early in the morning, not at night or at mid-day.
  12. Use battery-powered programmable timers to automatically turn sprinkler on and off.
  13. Choose a timer that permits you to set the sprinkler's time on, time off, and day of the week.
  14. In-ground sprinklers can be permanently installed in the ground. Attach hose to sprinkler, flip on the sprinkler, then adjust the angle of spray.