Nov. 5 2019 06:00 AM

Contractors today can choose from an array of sprinkler types to fit any irrigation need.

Photo: Rain Bird

There is no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to irrigation components. That’s why sprinkler heads and nozzles come in many different forms: fixed and pop-up sprays; rotors; micro sprinklers; and high-efficiency, variable-arc and rotary nozzles.

Photo: Hunter Industries

As Steve Jeffries, owner of B and B Sprinkler Inc., Spokane, Washington, puts it, “Every job is different.” What a contractor will install in any given landscape will depend on many different factors — soil type, climate, slope, sun and shade exposure, plant types, available water pressure, professional preference and cost.

“Because lawns are getting smaller, we’re not getting as many calls to irrigate large expanses of turf,” says Peter Estournes, co-owner, vice president and chief operating officer of Gardenworks Inc., Healdsburg, California. He prefers to use multistream rotary nozzles on his lawn and ground cover areas.

Jeffries, however, prefers to use single-stream rotors for his residential turf clients and some of his commercial ones. “A typical residential sprinkler system from us would have a combination of single-stream rotors and conventional sprays.” He also uses them in some landscape beds instead of the drip and low-volume systems he usually uses for that application.

Photo: Toro

If the beds include some annuals and ground cover, or if the customer likes to change out the bedding plants a lot, Jeffries says he would use spray risers for those beds. “Annuals like to be sprayed, because they’re systemic in their uptake of water. A perennial plant only takes water up through its root zone.” He adds, “The old adage is ‘If in doubt, spray it.’”

To help you choose the right sprinklers for all the different applications you as a contractor or technician are called upon to irrigate, we present our annual Sprinkler Specification Charts. We hope they are helpful to you as you strive to bring the highest possible watering efficiency to your clients.

To download a copy of these comparison charts, click here.

The author is senior editor of Irrigation & Green Industry and can be reached at

New regulations coming soon to a sprinkler head near you

California often leads the nation when it comes to regulations of all kinds, including those affecting the irrigation industry. There is a pending California regulation that could soon be affecting contractors in other states. Chris Davey, product marketing manager for residential and commercial irrigation at The Toro Company’s Riverside, California, irrigation division has provided us with a short summary of it.

“The EPA WaterSense standard for spray bodies is the reference standard being cited in the state-level legislation,” says Davey. “That standard is written explicitly around pressure-regulating spray bodies. The drivers behind this move are the broader appliance efficiency standards that specify minimum energy and/or water efficiency levels for specific products. Spray bodies are one category amongst a wide range of categories covering everything from HVAC units, lighting fixtures, pool pumps and indoor water appliances.”

Davey goes on to say that at this point, the spray body standardization has been implemented at only the state level (see the list below), but there is certainly the possibility that at some point in the future it could be adopted at the national level — think incandescent light bulbs — but that remains to be seen.

Thus far, the following states have ratified legislation mandating the sale and installation of pressure-regulating spray heads for all points of sale, including big-box stores, wholesale and private sellers, effective on the following dates: Vermont, July 1, 2020; California, Oct. 1, 2020; and Colorado, Hawaii, and Washington, Jan. 1, 2021. Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island are also actively looking to potentially adopt the EPA WaterSense spec as the minimum efficiency standard for spray bodies.