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Sprinkler Heads...What's the Difference?

Most homeowners would rather trust decisions concerning their sprinkler system and sprinkler heads to a landscape professional. Good idea. But it's also a good idea for you - as a home or business owner to know what type of sprinkler heads are available when planning the sprinkler system for your landscape. Let's discuss the two most common types of sprinkler heads...spray and rotor.

Some spray lawn sprinkler heads are designed to pop up out of the ground when the sprinkler system is activated, while others rest on pipes that remain aboveground at all times. Spray lawn sprinkler heads discharge a large volume of water in a relatively short amount of time, giving them a "high application rate." For this reason, sprinkler systems with spray lawn sprinkler heads are most suitable for even surfaces, not slopes. If you do have to use a spray head on a slope, you will need to program your sprinkler system so that water is discharged over several shorter periods of time to avoid wasteful run-off.

By contrast, rotor lawn sprinkler heads have a lower application rate, so they're more effective on slopes. Rotor lawn sprinkler heads also apply water more uniformly than spray lawn sprinkler heads, making them more suitable for watering larger areas. For Orlando homeowners who have larger yards, irrigation systems with rotor lawn sprinkler heads would be a logical choice.

Whether you use spray-head sprinklers or rotor-head sprinklers for a particular area in your lawn, irrigation does matter, mainly because of the difference in application rates. Above all, be consistent in the types of sprinkler heads you use (i.e., spray-head or rotor-head) within specific areas. Mixing sprinkler head-types within the same area leads to over-irrigation of some parts of your lawn while only adequately watering other areas. The goal of lawn irrigation is to target water distribution as precisely as the sprinkler system allows. The right sprinkler heads play a big role in this.

Your irrigation specialist will help you to divide your yard into "zones" prior to deciding which sprinkler heads are best for your Orlando yard. When a zone comes "on", the water flows through the lateral lines and ultimately ends up at the irrigation sprinkler heads. Most sprinklers have pipe thread inlets on the bottom of them which allows a fitting and the pipe to be attached to them. The sprinklers are usually installed with the top of the sprinkler head flush with the ground surface.

When the water is pressurized, the head will pop up out of the ground and water the desired area until the valve closes and shuts off that zone. Once there is no more water pressure in the lateral line, the sprinkler head will retract back into the ground.

Selecting sprinkler heads for a system will require investigating various sprinkler models to find one with the characteristics best suited for your yard and watering needs. The important information for making the right decision regarding your sprinkler heads includes the operating pressure, flow range, precipitation rate, and the radius and arc of coverage.


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