A Guide To Adjusting Your Sprinklers

Sufficient water is crucial for any lush green lawn. But sometimes it’s not as simple as just switching on the sprinkler system; the grass might not get sufficient coverage or the water might be wasted on the sidewalk nearby. In this case, adjusting your sprinklers properly is essential.

Different kinds of sprinklers are adjusted differently. So, determine the sprinkler type, assess the yard’s watering needs, and get the right tools. For the commonly found impact sprinkler, you can adjust the water flow at the source or tweak parts like the diffuser pin and deflector shield.

Luckily, it’s not too difficult to adjust a sprinkler head. Let’s take a look at the general steps involved in adjusting the sprinkler; how you can change the spray pattern, arc, and pressure of an impact sprinkler; and the tools you need to get the job done.

Why Would You Need to Adjust a Sprinkler?

Automatic Backyard Garden Lawn Sprinkler Installation

The watering needs of your lawn aren’t uniform. Think about it: A part of the yard that’s under direct sunlight will require more water than an area that’s under shade. Furthermore, some parts of the garden might not drain as well as others, which means they won’t need a lot of water. 

That’s why you’ll need to adjust the sprinklers to make sure they distribute the right amount of water on different parts of the lawn. You might also have to adjust the sprinkler as the weather starts to change to ensure that the spray pattern covers the lawn properly.   

What Are the Steps for Adjusting Your Sprinkler?

Worker fix lawn sprinkler

Adjusting a sprinkler is an easy 4-step process. 

1. Determine Your Sprinkler Type

To adjust the sprinkler head, you first need to identify the kind of sprinklers present in your system. Different kinds of sprinkler heads are adjusted in different ways. There are three kinds of sprinkler heads: impact sprinklers, pop-up sprinklers, and gear-driven rotors.

2. Assess the Watering Needs of the Lawn

Identify the parts of the lawn where the amount of water needs to be adjusted. Look for areas where the grass looks withered or brown. Those parts of the lawn will require more water. Meanwhile, areas with swampy-looking or soaked grass will need less water.

3. Choose the Right Tools

After determining the kinds of sprinklers in the garden, you need to find the right tools. Remember, the kinds of tools will vary according to the kind of sprinkler. For instance, you’ll need a rotor adjustment tool like this one from Rain Bird (on Amazon) to adjust a rotor sprinkler. 

Manufacturers typically sell their own adjustment tools that are ideal for use with their sprinkler heads, so make sure you check those out. 

4. Adjust the Sprinkler Head

With everything ready at hand, you can now start to adjust the sprinkler head. Different models can be adjusted in different ways, so make sure you check how to adjust the specific kind of sprinkler you have. 

How to Adjust an Impact Sprinkler 

The head of an impact sprinkler has a rotating bearing underneath it, which lets it pivot to provide 360-degree coverage as the water flows through it. There are several ways of tweaking the impact sprinkler to change the water’s arc, spray pattern, and pressure. 

While the easiest thing to do is to control the water flow from the source, you can also adjust different parts like the deflector shield, movement collars, and diffuser pin to get the right trajectory and strength. Let’s discuss these options in detail. 

Adjusting the Water Flow at the Source

The easiest thing you can do to adjust the amount of water that comes out of the impact sprinkler is to tighten or loosen the hose faucet. Increasing the water flow (opening the faucet) will increase the stream coverage and power, while decreasing it will limit the coverage to a smaller area.

Lower water flow is better if you don’t want to damage delicate plants with a particularly strong blast.

Change the Diffuser Pin’s Position

The diffuser pin is basically a large screw that’s anchored to the sprinkler head’s base. Move the pin clockwise until it’s right over the water nozzle if you want to reduce the distance that the sprinkler covers.

If you want more concentrated steam that covers more distance, simply unscrew the pin or remove it completely.

Adjust the Deflector Shield

You’ll see a flat metal square attached to the sprayer head’s body. Swivel it up or down to adjust it. If you keep the deflector shield downturned and the stream hits it, it’ll be redirected into a shorter, lower arc, which is ideal for watering grass and plants nearby. 

When you want to water a larger part of the land, raise the deflector shield. This will give the stream a higher arc, allowing it to cover more distance.

Adjust the Spray Pattern With Friction Collars

Twist the clamps present at the sprinkler head’s base into different positions to adjust the sprinkler head’s movement. The watering range will become narrower as the collars come closer together.

When the sprinkler turns, the trip pin (the metal present at the head’s base) will oppose the collar clamps. As a result, the sprinkler will work in the reverse direction.

Just make sure that the trip pin is within the range that you want for the sprinkler. By doing so, you’ll be able to water the plants outside your house without splashing water on your front porch. 

Flip the Trip Pin for Complete Coverage

If you want 360-degree coverage, just lift the trip pin up until it rests against the head. It’ll then be able to shoot water in a radial motion. Doing so can really help if the sprinkler is placed right in the middle of the space you’re watering.  

Adjust the Control Dial

There are some impact sprinklers that come with a separate dial, allowing users to set the spray distance they want manually. If this dial is present on your sprinkler, you can reduce the stream’s force by turning it to the left and increase it by turning it to the right. 

If there’s no distance control dial on your sprinkler, you can get the kind of spray you want by adjusting the deflector shield, diffuser pin, and water pressure.

Tips to Keep in Mind

Make sure that your water source has a water pressure of more than 15 psi. Any lower, and your sprinkler system won’t be as effective. If your sprinkler doesn’t spray out water at a higher rate, it’s better to choose some other irrigation method, such as drip irrigation (on Amazon).

You can use a pressure gauge (on Amazon) to determine the pressure you get, or you can just call your water provider. Generally, residential areas get a water pressure of roughly 40-60 psi. But if you get your water from a well or pump, then it might be lower.   

Make sure you choose the right sprinkler head. You can find both metal and plastic impact sprinkler heads (on Amazon). The latter is lightweight and easier to turn with a low water flow (20-40 psi) while the former is more expensive but can handle higher pressure better. Plus, metal heads are more durable, so they can last for longer without causing problems.

Finally, make sure you clean the sprinkler every once in a while. If you notice a weak water stream even though the water pressure is normal or if the sprinkler stops rotating, it’s a clear sign that your sprinkler needs cleaning.

Remove the head and disassemble it to access the swivel bearing and nozzle. Scrub all the pieces gently using hot water and remove mineral buildup and debris with a bottle brush.  

Tools You Need to Adjust Your Sprinklers

The tools you need slightly differ based on the kind of sprinklers you have. In general, you’ll need a rotor screwdriver, a rotor nozzle adjustment tool, a slotted screwdriver, and a hex wrench.

In case of a pop-up sprinkler, you’ll need a flathead screwdriver, and for an impact sprinkler, you can get a firmer grip on the nozzle with an adjustment ring. 

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