How to Adjust Sprinkler Heads: Tips for Homeowners

Published on: January 3, 2021
A sprinkler watering flowers in the garden.

A sprinkler system is a wise investment to maintain a healthy, beautiful lawn at your home. The systems available now can help take the guesswork out of maintaining the right moisture levels for your lawn and gardens – many even measure soil moisture levels and have smart technology to adjust watering schedules. However, even smart systems will need manual adjustments. Here are some tips on why and how to adjust sprinkler heads to provide the most efficient watering for your lawn.

Reasons to Adjust Your Sprinkler Heads

There are various types of sprinkler heads, but all have a similar effect – they provide water to a specific area for a set amount of time with a certain level of flow. Depending on the type of sprinkler head, they may shoot water in a pattern or a complete circle to cover the desired area. The position of the arch and the level of flow is set when the sprinkler heads are installed, but you may need to adjust the area or flow to maximize your irrigation efficiency. Here are a few reasons you may need to know how to adjust sprinkler heads:

  • Spray is hitting walkways, driveways or sidewalks
  • Spray from the sprinkler heads is overlapping or missing areas in the yard
  • The flow level is too high or too low
  • You are getting uneven coverage of irrigation for your lawn

If your sprinkler heads are not producing the right coverage for your lawn, it can be a waste of water and money. In some cases, too much water can increase the risk of fungus and disease that can be detrimental to your lawn. Too little water can also impact the health of the grass, causing brown or dead areas. Finding the right flow and coverage area for each sprinkler head is vital for the best performance. To adjust the sprinkler heads in your irrigation system, you first need to know which type of sprinkler heads you own.

Types of Sprinkler Heads

Rotor, pop-up spray heads and multi-stream spray heads are the most common types of sprinkler heads used in residential irrigation systems. Rotor heads use a single spray that is rotated in a set pattern around the head. Pop-up spray heads usually provide a steady steam in all directions, often in a circular pattern. Multi-stream spray heads use different streams to provide a slow, steady water supply to a set area.

Each type of sprinkler head requires different tools and techniques to change the arc or flow of the water. While brands and models of sprinkler systems differ, most have similar methods on how to adjust sprinkler heads to increase or decrease the coverage. Here are tips for adjusting these different types of sprinkler heads.

Adjusting Rotor Sprinkler Heads

Rotor sprinkler heads direct a stream back and forth over a specific area. You can adjust the radius of the arc to increase or decrease how far the streams travel. The different brands and types of rotor sprinkler heads have adjustment tools that are used to change the position of the arc. There is usually an adjustment socket at the top of the rotor sprinkler head. Insert the adjustment tool into the socket while the sprinkler is on – turn it clockwise to increase the degree of the arc and counter-clockwise to decrease the arc.

Adjusting Pop-Up Spray Heads

The pop-up spray heads do not rotate the stream but instead create a steady steam in a circular pattern from each head. When adjusting a pop-up spray head, you can make that circle smaller or larger, or adjust the level of flow. However, some spray heads are not adjustable – they are set for a specific radius and flow. To adjust these fixed spray heads, you must replace the nozzle for the desired radius or arc. Adjustable or variable spray heads are simple to adjust. Most can be rotated by hand to adjust the arc by turning the pop-up head.

Adjusting Multi-Stream Spray Heads

The multi-stream spray heads give you more control of your irrigation. You can adjust both the radius and arc for the multiple streams to provide even coverage for your lawn and garden irrigation. While each system may vary, using the adjustment tools you can rotate clockwise to increase arc up to 360-degrees and rotate clockwise to decrease radius. However, check with your owner’s manual for your specific system and adjustment instructions.
Sprinkler watering lawn in the yard.

While there are some similar methods and standards on how to adjust sprinkler heads, not all systems follow these rules. If you are having difficulties adjusting your irrigation system or are considering changing your sprinkler heads, contact a landscaping service that offers irrigation installation or repairs. Your local landscaping professional can help you adjust or replace your sprinkler heads to get the best performance and efficiency from your sprinkler system.

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