The best garden water systems 2018: from spray guns to ground-based sprinklers

Keep you lawn and flowerbeds looking lush and bountiful with a top tier watering system

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It’s all very well spending ages walking around your garden with a watering can but if you really want to keep your lawn and flowerbeds looking lush and bountiful with as little effort as possible, get yourself a watering system.

The first thing you’ll need is a decent hosepipe which, as luck would have it, we have written about here.

Right, now you’re back with us, the next thing you’ll need is either a hand-operated spray gun or a ground-based sprinkler, or preferably both. There are loads of different types on the market but, to save you the head-scratching, we’ve scoured the web for the best sprinklers, sprayers and even an automated watering system for those you can’t be bothered to unravel a hose.

Our top choice for ground-based sprinkling goes to the exceptional, multi-faceted Karcher Oscillating Sprinkler and the Gardena Premium Pulse Sprinkler, which truly evokes the sound of summer. If you’re after a cheap but comprehensive hand-held spray gun, check out the Verve Green & Grey, which comes with an excellent ensemble of eight spray and squirt patterns. And if you don’t wish to burden yourself with daily watering, then consider fitting an automatic water-scheduling controller to your tap. The Hozelock Sensor Controller Plus is just the ticket in this respect as it’s equipped with a daylight sensor for automatic water dispatching. 

Now read on for the lowdown.

Best garden water systems

1. KARCHER OSCILLATING SPRINKLER

The best garden water system on the market

Reasons to buy
+Impressive design+Exceptional versatility
Reasons to avoid
-Requires decent water pressure

Karcher is best known for its pressure washers but it’s also into gardening in a big way and doing it well. Take this sturdy oscillating sprinkler for example. Unlike your average common or garden oscillator, this one comes with a full compliment of bells and whistles. It’s got twenty jets on board for a start, and that means excellent coverage on all sides. Better still, you can customise the coverage by turning off any one of the six nozzles on either side to produce a narrower zone.

This oscillator also comes with a knob for adjusting the water pressure so you don’t need to stand at a tap while selecting the most suitable squirt distance. And, in a minor stroke of genius, there’s a plastic SplashGuard underneath the unit that rotates to cover the jets nearest to your face while you make extra adjustments.

Admittedly, with all nozzles open – and using typical London water pressure – the Karcher isn’t as far reaching as the classic Hozelock oscillator (you get about 4m of soakiness either side) but close a couple of jets on both sides and the throw increases to around 8m either side, albeit with a narrower formation. This setting is ideal for the average long and slim urban London lawn since it will cover the entire plot in one fell swoop. And that means you can just leave it to do its stuff while you engage in more important pastimes, like stuffing your face and getting rat arsed.

Best garden water systems

2. VERVE GREEN & GREY SPRAY GUN

A top-level spray gun with plenty of settings

Reasons to buy
+Eight great spray patterns+Ergonomic trigger
Reasons to avoid
-Made entirely of plastic

Oh we do love a good spray gun, especially when it has so many different patterns on board. Like this one, which comes with eight patterns including two types of wide spray, a fine mist, a watering can-style sprinkle and the obligatory wide gush and long squirt. As an added bonus, it also comes with a unique and far-reaching, cone-shaped pattern that uses around twenty slim jets; this is the setting of choice for long-range drenchability and le choix par excellence for the inevitable mid-afternoon water battle.

The lightweight Verve incorporates a palm-operated trigger that’s a doddle to use and much easier on the finger muscles. It also has a locking mechanism so you can prop it up against something and use it as a sprinkler. The package also includes a tap connector and two hose connectors, one with an AquaStop feature so you can swap spray guns and sprinklers without getting a faceful of spray.

This plastic model won’t last forever (no spray gun does) but it’s cheap to buy and exceedingly well equipped for all your watering eventualities.

Best garden water systems

3. HOZELOCK SENSOR CONTROLLER PLUS

A heavy duty system for serious gardeners

Reasons to buy
+Automatic watering+Saves time and effort+Comes with a light sensor
Reasons to avoid
-Requires batteries

If you take your gardening duties seriously enough to stick to a strict twice-a-day watering regime, you’ll save a lot of time and effort by fitting an automated water scheduling system like this model from Hozelock. It will also assuage the pain of returning from holiday only to find that your lush Garden of Eden has turned into a desertscape of Karoo proportions.

To use, simply bung in a couple of AA batteries, attach the unit to your tap and plug the hose into the other side. The controller is fitted with a daylight sensor that automatically opens the taps at dawn and dusk, keeping your lawn, flowerbeds or greenhouse plants in tip-top condition. You can easily set the number of days required and even how long you want the watering session to last, from two to 60 minutes. And if you ever need to use the hose outside of the scheduled periods, just tap the grey Water Now button and squirt.

This convenient garden nanny works well with any standard hosepipe/sprinkler combo and is the perfect companion for drip irrigation systems.

Best garden water systems

4. GARDENA PREMIUM PULSE SPRINKLER

A great sprinkler for those with large lawns

Reasons to buy
+Great for large gardens+Creates the sound of summer
Reasons to avoid
-Delicate construction

Aside from being especially well suited for large lawns up to 490m2, the main reason we love pulse or impact sprinklers is because they typify the sound of summer and especially the countryside. After all, who doesn’t love the peaceful tsk-tsk-tsk sound of a farmer or stately home’s irrigation system on a hot summer’s evening while sipping on a Pimms or going for a stroll along a bridleway? Well, plonk this model on your lawn and you’ll always feel like you’re on holiday.

Admittedly, impact sprinklers do look like the result of someone who’s found a jumble of metal and plastic bits and put them all together in a man shed. They’re also quite delicate and don’t like being trampled on. But they’re among the best options for long-range watering.

This Germanic option uses a decent amount of sturdy metal in its construction and comes equipped with a high precision brass nozzle that should produce a fusillade of reliable squirts day in day out. Its 10 to 25 metre range is easily adjusted using the large knob on the side and there’s a separate swivel adjuster to set the sector from 25˚ to 360˚. And because it has a through connector, you can also link a bunch of them together for a full-on squirt symphony.

Best garden water systems

5. HOZELOCK ULTRA TWIST ANGLE SPRAY GUN

A very decent do-it-all option

Reasons to buy
+Two-in-one versatility+Practical alternative to a ground sprinkler
Reasons to avoid
-Just four spray patterns-Finger-operated trigger

If you’re looking for some kind of two-in-one sprinkler arrangement, then give this one a gander. It’s ostensibly a hand-operated spray gun but, because the head can articulate to 90˚, it can also be placed on its side to water parts of the lawn or a flowerbed without having to stand around like a lemon.

The Ultra Twist is equipped with just four spray patterns, a slightly cumbersome but comfy finger-operated trigger with a locking mechanism and a flow control knob on the rear. Expect coverage of about 69m2 when used as a ground sprinkler. A very decent do-it-all option.