As we slide into the autumn months, after a fierce summer that featured multiple heat waves, now is a great time to get your lawn and plants back to optimal health with the help of one of the best garden sprinklers.
Garden sprinklers are incredibly useful to rescue parched turf and withered plants, and at this point of the year plenty of sprinklers are available for knock down prices. The spring and summer rush to buy is over and end of line products are being made available at major retailers.
But you shouldn't rush into buying a garden sprinkler, as their are plenty of types and brands to consider.
There are many types of sprinkler to choose from, which is why we’ve broken it down and made it easy for you with our top picks. And while you’re here, if you really want to keep your garden looking its best, then we also highly recommend checking out some of our other guides such as the best garden watering system, best secateurs and best garden shears to not only keep your garden hydrated, but trimmed and looking neat too.
Once your garden is looking lush, then it's time to actually enjoy it, and since there doesn’t seem to be an end to this heatwave just yet, why not kit out your garden with one of the best barbecues, best pizza ovens or best smokers.
If pruning and weeding by hand seems like a monumental task, and your garden is quite big, then don’t worry, we can also advise you on some of the best garden power tools to get the job done faster. Check out our recommendations for the best cordless lawn mowers, best petrol lawn mowers and best robot lawn mowers.
But first, let’s dive into those garden sprinklers….
The best garden sprinklers 2022
If you have a medium-to-large sized garden of 150 metres square and above (and have no desire to keep moving the sprinkler around) go straight for this model because I don’t know of any other oscillating sprinkler with a wider reach.
Constructed entirely out of metal with 18 brass nozzles and brass hose connector, this oscillating sprinkler surprised us with its unbelievably wide coverage, even in low pressure areas. The first time I set this thing off I had to sprint all the way indoors and not just stand to the edge – the spray pattern is extremely broad and tall. Of course, I could have simply turned the tap off first before attaching the one-way Gardena connector but I like to live dangerously. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend the S&J for narrow urban gardens because it will also water both your neighbours’ lawns in the process.
Aside from adjustable angle of flow and a little pressure dial that controls its reach, it doesn’t come with any fancy bells and whistles. Granted, a few months down the line you will have to take a pin to each nozzle to clear the calcium build-up and it’s so silent you may forget that it’s on. But if you’re in the market for an incredibly well made, pro-spec oscillating sprinkler that covers a massive area in one go, then this is the one to plump for.
Aside from being 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 farm or stately home’s irrigation system on a hot summer’s evening while going for a stroll along a bridleway? Well, spike this model into the lawn and you’ll always feel like you’re in the country.
Admittedly, pulse 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.
The Gardena Sprinkler Spike is constructed out of robust plastic and comes equipped with a high precision nozzle that produces a fusillade of reliable squirts day in day out. Its 10 - 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˚. You can also link a bunch of them together for a full-on squirt symphony.
To see how this top pick compares to a fierce rival, then check out the Gardena Premium Pulse Sprinkler vs Hozelock Pulsating Sprinkler (opens in new tab) comparison feature.
Unlike your average common or garden oscillator, this one comes with a full complement 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 some of the nozzles on either side to produce a narrower zone.
The Kärcher Oscillating Sprinkler 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. 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 Kärcher isn’t as far reaching as the Spear & Jackson (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. That means you can just leave it to do its stuff while you engage in more important pastimes.
To see how this model compares to another highly rated sprinkler then check out this Spear & Jackson BWF22 Oscillating Sprinkler vs Kärcher Premium Oscillating Sprinkler OS 5.320SV (opens in new tab) comparison feature.
Smaller gardens that need a reliable job done can expect good things from this side-to-side sprinkler. Indeed, it’s arguably the most popular sprinkler on the market and very reliable it is, too. Unlike the Kärcher reviewed above, you can’t make any adjustments to the 15 water jets but you can adjust the reach on either side by opening the two red levers near the water inlet. However, making reach adjustments on the fly is recipe for a good soaking so be sure to time your tinkering Ethan Hunt-style between oscillations.
The Hozelock’s wide sledge-style design keeps it firmly in place even on steep inclines so perhaps consider it if your lawn is as hilly as the South Downs and preferably rectangular in shape.
This oscillating model is the epitome of a basic, no-nonsense garden sprinkler. It's crazy cheap, so much so that you could buy multiple units for the cost of some other rival models, and you simply plug it in and away it goes.
As with most cheaper models, this sprinklers action is driven by the water running through it, and coverage is directly dependent on water pressure. This means you can just open or close your tap to grow or shrink its nozzle spray spread and distance travelled. You can lock the angle and direction of spray, too, meaning that if you want to just water a narrow patch of your garden, such as a flowerbed, then you can do so.
The build quality is just average and there's no doubting that this unit is made largely out of plastic, so don't expect decades of use, but when it’s as cheap as this, we're not sure that's really something to worry about.
Like the excellent Kärcher reviewed above, this Gardena model’s 16 water jets can be adjusted for either a wide or narrow reach depending on the size and shape of the garden. However, unlike the Kärcher’s 20 nozzles which you can switch on and off, the Gardena’s system uses two banks of permanently on nozzles which can be aimed side to side to provide a narrow or wide zone, or even adjusted so one bank of jets forms a straight line, while the other bank waters the rest of the lawn plus perhaps a flower bed on the side.
The Gardena’s nozzles are wider than the norm and that means the reach is nowhere near as far as the supreme Spear & Jackson or the Kärcher with two of its jet banks turned off. On the plus side, the increased amount of water coming out of each jet is very similar to that of rain drops so in many ways this sprinkler provides more water per squirty oscillation.
The upshot is, if you have a garden with a surface area larger than say, 10m x 5m or your water pressure is low, perhaps forego this model and opt for the Spear & Jackson which has massive range even in low-pressure regions. On the other hand, if your lawn is relatively small – and oddly shaped – and you wish to douse the lawn and beds with more water per pass, then this is the sprinkler to go for.
For even more information about this sprinkler be sure to read the Kärcher Premium Oscillating Sprinkler OS 5.320SV vs Gardena AquaZoom (opens in new tab).
If you feel you would benefit more from a rotating sprinkler, then this super affordable model is well worth scoping out. Coming in at under a tenner makes it very easy to pick up, and its simple design makes it easy to blend in to your garden while in use.
The unit itself has three arms that rotate and each has 4 water jet nozzles on them, meaning you get 12 in all. The reach of the nozzles varies depending on the water pressure pushed through it from 2-10 meters, so we're talking modest spread rather than an elongated reach.
There are two modes you can select: a faster rotation – good for watering lawns –and a slower mode that fires water higher but in a narrower spread, which is good for the irrigation of border plants.
Hozelock has another great entry on our list with the Round Sprinkler Pro which users have found works incredibly well regardless of your water pressure. The spike design means it can be placed securely in the grass and on even the steepest of inclines, or you can purchase the same model with a sled base instead.
With its choice of five nozzles, this sprinkler can be set to complete a full circle of coverage (up to 20m in diameter) or a wide arc by simply adjusting the red setting ring. It is also said to be excellent for providing spray coverage across the whole garden or targeting specific areas with a stronger flow. An excellent choice for smaller lawns.
If you don’t like the idea of a sprinkler taking up room on your lawn, then this integrated sprinkler is the ideal way to overcome the issue. As it’s hidden, this lawn sprinkler does require installation – a 10-inch hole will need to be dug along with a trench for the hose.
The Popup comes with 16 flexible nozzles to ensure even water distribution and is particularly effective on rectangular shaped lawns (you can adjust spray width, range and direction by fiddling with the unit’s various knobs and wheels). To use, simply turn on the tap – or have a timer do it for you – and the water pressure causes it to pop up out of the ground. When finished, it descends back into its housing.
The Popup is far and away the most aesthetically pleasing model on the page but be warned that some users may find they don’t have high enough water pressure for it to reach all areas. We would suggest trying an ordinary sprinkler first to test for general reach, because the last thing you need is to discover it has woeful coverage after having dug up half the garden. You’re also advised to have the system installed by a professional landscaper because the instructions are pretty poor.
How to buy the best garden sprinkler
Watering your lawn by hand isn’t too much of a hardship, but if you have a large garden then this can begin to take up a lot of your time. This is where a lawn sprinkler comes in.
There are a few types of sprinkler you can get, and the one you choose will depend on the shape and size of your garden, and if there are any particular areas you want covered. A fixed sprinkler will simply water one chosen area but they are usually good at getting to those hard-to-reach areas.
Rotating and oscillating lawn sprinklers will ensure different areas of your garden are watered evenly and tend to be gentler on flowerbeds. However, if you have a particularly large garden, impact sprinklers work by producing two different high-pressure jets that water the lawn in a circular pattern. You'll recognise them by the tsk-tsk-tsk sound they make.
For the most efficient and effective watering, a lawn sprinkler attached to an electronic timer (opens in new tab) will ensure consistent maintenance, and opting for a sprinkler with a range of nozzles and flow settings means you can target certain areas that need more attention.
The best time to water your garden & other sprinkler tips
As with watering anything, the optimal time to do so is in the morning. By turning on your sprinkler in the morning, you help the plant or lawn to retain the water that's deposited on it, rather than it evaporating. If you're watering a lawn, it's advised to use your sprinkler once a week or a couple of times per week in prolonged dry weather, and to deposit about an inch of water over it. This takes roughly an hour, but obviously varies between make of sprinkler.
One question to remain mindful of, though, is "do sprinklers use a lot of water?" because the answer is yes. This is why it's important to make use of a sprinkler at the optimal times of day to increase its effectiveness in a given time.
It's OK to water plants and lawns in the evening and night, however, this needs to be in a controlled manner as damp leaves or boggy ground encourages fungus, moss and mould, which is detrimental to the health of the lawn or plants. This is why watering in the morning is most optimal – the plants absorb the water and make use of it during the peak sunlight hours of the day, meaning they are dry by nightfall.
Lastly, addressing the age old hand water vs water sprinkler argument: both forms of watering have their time, place and benefits. For example, if you just need to water a large patch of lawn or a crop of the same plants, a sprinkler is a great solution. It waters everything evenly and with close to zero effort from the gardener. However, if you have a bunch of different plants next to each other that will all benefit from different amounts of water, hand watering is obviously better. Hand watering also lets you water things in tight areas without getting things like paths and flagstones wet and slippery.
The best garden sprinkler makers
There are a few established garden sprinkler makers, as well as plenty of up and coming makers, that are producing products right now. The two biggest established names in garden sprinklers are Hozelock and Gardena, and from testing many different sprinklers from these two, we can confidently say that you should shop with them in confidence.
Another maker with great pedigree is Kärcher, who has much expanded its offering aggressively over the past few years. It now offers a wide range of sprinklers, including rotating, pulse and oscillating models. Garden specialist Spear & Jackson is another top contender that produces both sprinklers and spray guns. Its oscillating sprinkler is our top pick for wide coverage.
There's plenty of more budget-orientated makers, too, such as Aolun, Silverline, Onarway, Amlion, Hotelvs, ENJSD, Aiglam, and more. These makers focus on producing very affordable sprinklers, and are absolutely worth checking out if you're shopping on a tight budget.
How we test the best sprinklers
Sprinklers come in a variety of different flavours, but a lot of the things we're looking for in a good garden sprinkler stay uniform, such as coverage, reach, modes and build quality. These are the things we're looking out for when we rate a garden sprinkler.
For example, there are multiple types of oscillating sprinkler on the market, but some come with plastic fittings and others come with metal ones. It doesn't take much to figure out which one is going to boast the better build quality and longevity.
We also want to know during our testing, just how easy a lawn sprinkler is to set-up and operate. The last thing anyone wants is a supposedly all-singing-all-dancing model that can do it all if it isn't easy and intuitive to use. Often the simplest products work the best.
Finally, over the longer term we're looking out for how well these sprinklers perform over multiple seasons. If a garden sprinkler packs up after just one summer's use then we will tell you about it here!