UK’s best garden sprinklers tested for large and small lawns, including oscillating, round and impulse systems
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A hose sprinkler is perfect for medium to large gardens and especially lawns which tend to dry out very quickly when the temperature rises. After all, trying to perform the same task with a watering can is often too time consuming not to say exhausting.
In this guide we’re looking at the best garden sprinklers for your style of lawn so whether it’s perfectly square, rectangular or circular there should be a model in this list to suit your needs.
What to look for when choosing a garden sprinkler
The first thing to note is that garden sprinklers consume large quantities of water. According to Southwest Water, ‘a garden sprinkler system will typically use around 15 litres per minute’.
If you consider that the average amount of water used per person per day is in the region of 124 litres, it will take a sprinkler just nine minutes to exceed that statistic. Hence, to avoid excessive use – often brought about by forgetfulness – it’s vital you invest in a cheap tap timer so your sprinkler doesn’t go on pumping out water for hours.
Another thing to consider is water pressure in your area. Usually in urban environments, and especially large cities, the water pressure may be lower than out in the suburbs or countryside so go for a model that doesn’t have too many jets. This is because the more jets a sprinkler has, the more likely it won’t provide the coverage you’re looking for.
Which sprinkler is best for a small, medium, or large lawn?
In general, small to medium-sized lawns are best suited to circular and oscillating sprinklers, though some oscillating models like the Speak & Jackson reviewed below, can buck the trend by providing huge coverage.
Conversely, if you have a really large garden and you’d rather not keep moving the sprinkler to a new position, your best bet would be a pulse or impact sprinkler like those used on farmland and large country gardens.
Best garden sprinklers at a glance:
- Best for larger lawns: Spear & Jackson BWF22 Oscillating Sprinkler
- Best for small circular lawns and gardens: Hozelock Round Sprinkler Plus
- Best for value and larger lawns: Titan Impulse Sprinkler
- Best for monitoring water use: Gardena Oscillating Sprinkler AquaCount
- Best for long urban lawns: Kärcher Oscillating Sprinkler OS 5.320 SV
Huge coverage, Robust build quality, Brass nozzles
Nozzles require occasional cleaning
Most oscillating sprinklers provide pretty wide coverage as they slowly arc from side to side. However some models aren’t that well suited to low pressure water supplies.
The Spear & Jackson begs to differ because this all-metal beast is capable of easily covering a plot of 14m x 14m with consummate ease.
Unlike other oscillating sprinklers, the S&J is made entirely of metal, including its 18 brass jets.
Yes you may have to take a pin to some of the jets after a few months of use to remove inevitable build up of limescale in the nozzles but this writer can vouch that this model is generally much more robustly built than other oscillators and therefore more reliable in the long term.
Like the majority of oscillating sprinklers, the Spear & Jackson BWF22 can be adjusted for reach either side of its arc by moving one or both sliders inwards or outwards, while flow is easily adjusted using the provided pressure dial.
If you have a medium to large garden and you’d rather not spend too much time moving the sprinkler around, consider this model which surpasses the reach of most oscillating sprinklers by some margin.
Four different spray patterns, Pretty water display
Lots of plastic
This Hozelock model is absolutely perfect for small circular lawns and cottage gardens, and it produces some of the prettiest spray patterns of all.
In fact you get four different spray options with this sled-style sprinkler – two different wide-coverage settings with a reach of around 12 metres each, a short misty spray pattern of 4 metres in diameter and a shorter 3-metre option for postage stamp-sized cottage gardens.
This model is made entirely from plastic that is thankfully quite supple so it should survive being dragged along the lawn or even over paving. In the pantheon of shorter-throw sprinklers, the Hozelock Round Sprinkler Plus is a sterling little operator.
Massive reach, Amazingly low price
Complicated to adjust
An impulse (or impact sprinkler as it is sometimes called) is ideal for larger lawns and gardens. Although the name may not ring any bells with you, you will almost certainly have heard the familiar ‘tsk-tsk-tsk’ sound of an impulse sprinkler while out walking in the countryside.
This is because it is the sprinkler of choice for agricultural irrigation and large country gardens that require extra wide coverage.
Now it has to be said that impulse sprinklers are not the easiest of models to understand – in fact they’re mind-numbingly complicated and this makes them tricky to adjust to your landscape.
In a nutshell, an impulse sprinkler like this excellent all-metal spiked model from Titan can be adjusted to do a full 360˚ sweep of a wide area or tweaked to stop spraying an area that may contain items you’d rather not get wet, like garden furniture and patios.
There are two main spray patterns on offer here and they both run at the same time.
First, there’s an adjustable long-range pulsating jet that squirts large drops of water over a wide circumference, and just beneath it, another smaller spray-type jet that waters an inner circle.
If your lawn is really huge and your water pressure is good enough, you can link two or three of these sprinklers together to form a symphony of squirts. Astounding value.
It comes with a water meter, Excellent coverage
Here’s a great idea for anyone worried about the amount of water their sprinkler is consuming.
The Gardena AquaCount oscillating sprinkler has its own built-in water metre so you can tell how much water it’s used in a single day or even an entire season. Gardena also produces AquaCount metres for direct tap use and even a hose gun.
You may be shocked by the amount of water a sprinkler uses during the course of just one session so it’s a good thing to know whether or not you should reduce the pressure at the tap to save as much water as possible. In one brief test this sprinkler consumed 5.5 litres in just 30 seconds!
The Gardena AquaCount has sixteen nozzles – in fact they’re more like a bunch of holes – and the spray arm is much shorter than the Spear & Jackson but the overall coverage in our test was still a commendable 12 metres, which makes it a great choice for medium-sized lawns.
If you’re worried about running costs, a system like this is a brilliant – albeit pricy – way to monitor your water usage on a daily or seasonal basis. It’s easy to set up and, given its smaller stature, is much more effective than you might expect.
Fully adjustable nozzles, Perfect for elongated city lawns
Low coverage when all nozzles are open. Not cheap
This cracking oscillating sprinkler is suitable for a variety of different garden designs, from long, slim urban styles to square and rectangular-shaped lawns.
The Kärcher is equipped with twenty jets so coverage isn’t as far reaching as the Spear & Jackson or Gardena. In fact it only provides about 5 metres of coverage either side when all jets are blazing.
However, since six nozzles on either side can be turned on or off in pairs, it’s possible to adjust its forward and backward reach by a huge margin – up to 12 metres either side when all side nozzles are off.
The ability to adjust reach makes this the perfect sprinkler for urban use where gardens are often long and narrow.
Other cool features include a knob for adjusting the water pressure so you don’t need to do it at the tap, plus a shield that covers the nozzles so you can adjust nozzle selection without getting blasted in the face.
If you have a slim city-style lawn then this sprinkler would be your best bet.