The yard looks dry and you know you're supposed to water. So you go to the store and look at garden sprinklers, and then it hits you: Too many choices. You see square sprinklers, round sprinklers, oscillating sprinklers, water-pistol type sprinklers, and other stuff. What's going to work best in your yard? Here's a quick review of different methods you can use.
This method is when you stand with a hose in your hand and splash water on your plants. You might cover the hose opening with your thumb, or use a watering wand. This system is great for watering container plants and flowers. It's not so great for watering lawns. Your biggest problem with hand-watering is knowing when you've watered enough.
This type is what you commonly see on lawns. There are many types of garden sprinklers. Oscillating sprinklers fan back and forth, shooting thin streams of water in the air to cover large rectangles. Impact sprinklers shoot pulses of water like a water pistol in a circular motion. Stationary sprinklers spray continuously in one pattern. They're handy for watering hard-to-reach places under trees and in corners. Traveling sprinklers look like toy tractors with helicopter propellers on top. They move along the yard as they water. They're handy for large, level lawns.
Permanent sprinkler systems are the most efficient method available for watering lawns. They're also the most convenient. No bulky hoses to lug around. No mess. You just set the timer and let the system do its thing. Permanent sprinkler systems cost a lot of money up front, and they require digging trenches to run pipes. But they save you lots of time and hassle.
This is the method of choice for people who live where water is scarce or expensive. A drip hose allows water to ooze out, soaking the root area of plants. This keeps the leaves dry to avoid fungus, and conserves water. It's great for gardens, but not very practical for your lawn.
As the name implies, you fill an area with water and let it soak in. This style is used for irrigating large basins under mature trees and shrubs. If you have a vegetable garden planted in rows, you can flood the furrows.
No matter what kind of garden sprinkler you use, you want to minimize your water usage. Grass grows long, healthy roots when you water deeply but infrequently. An inch of water a week is a good rule of thumb if it hasn't rained. Frequent, shallow watering causes shallow roots to grow, which makes your grass susceptible to drought and other problems. Also, try to water early in the day to avoid evaporation.