How Lawn Sprinklers Work

Sprinkler Basics

Both inground and above-ground lawn sprinklers are powered by water pressure. Water flows from a hose into the sprinkler and out of a small hole or holes called nozzles. When the pressurized water is squeezed through a small space, it shoots farther, allowing a single sprinkler to water a large area of your yard or garden.

Oscillating Sprinklers

Oscillating sprinklers work like any other sprinkler, but with an additional twist. Some of the water flowing into the sprinkler is diverted to the side and forced to run through a small turbine. This turbine works like an engine, using the water pressure to turn the sprinkler. Depending on the type of oscillating sprinkler, the turbine can make the sprinkler spin round and round or go back and forth along a fixed path.

Inground Lawn Sprinklers

In-ground lawn sprinklers are controlled by a central controller with adjustable timers. When the timer goes on, the controller opens valves to the sprinklers. Normally, in-ground sprinklers sit below ground level, but the water pressure pushes the sprinkler out of its hole when it is turned on. In many in-ground sprinkler systems, each sprinkler or small group of sprinklers is part of a different zone, which means it is controlled by a different valve. The zones can be all turned on and off at once, or certain zones can be turned on at certain times of day. In some cases, a rain meter is added to the system to automatically prevent the sprinklers from turning on if it is raining.

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Keywords: oscillating sprinklers, oscillating lawn sprinklers, in-ground sprinklers

About this Author

Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has over five years experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.