How to Adjust Sprinkler Heads

Nora Held
Nora Held
Research Writer
Apart from being our main writer, Nora also works for a number of gardening-related sites and magazines, sharing her experience as an owner of a small farm in North Carolina read more
Reviewed By
Bruce Williams
Bruce Williams
Expert Consultant
Bruce owns a small farm and loves to grill since his early childhood. He’s a professional cook, but hiking and enjoying the great outdoors is his no less favorite part of read more
Last updated: August 25, 2023 is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

A beautiful, lush lawn can be a highlight of your landscape design. But, it can be a challenge to achieve healthy grass that grows as it should. According to the EPA, the average family in America uses 320 gallons of water each day Trusted Source Outdoor Water Use in the United States - EPA The average American family uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is devoted to outdoor uses. More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens. Nationwide, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for nearly one-third of all residential water use, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day. , and approximately 30% of this figure is for outdoor use.

However, you can ensure your lawn is properly watered, efficiently with a sprinkler system. Many homeowners install sprinklers systems, but it is crucial that you know how to adjust sprinkler heads to ensure proper coverage.

Here we’ll explore the importance of your sprinkler heads and how you can adjust the various types of sprinkler heads. So, you can be sure that your lawn is getting proper coverage without needing to call in the professionals.

How does a sprinkler system work?

How to Adjust Sprinkler HeadsA sprinkler system allows you to have more control over how and when your lawn is watered. However, it is important that you choose the right system for your yard and the sprinkler heads are adjusted correctly. The best sprinkler for large areas will use too much water and may overwater plants and grass in a small yard. But, the reverse can also be true; if your sprinkler system is too small, it may not deliver sufficient water.

All sprinkler systems operate on a similar principle. There is a network of pipes that are buried under ground, with sprinkler heads strategically placed in various zones. These sprinkler heads work on a pressurized system, so when water is going through the pipe, it pushes up and out of the sprinkler head.

Sprinkler heads are typically raised, staying above ground, so they are not blocked by foliage. But, there are other types of heads that pop up to keep them out of the way during lawn maintenance.

How and when your sprinklers spray water is controlled by an electronic system. This tells the valves when they should open or close. It is also possible to add a rain sensor that detects rain and ensures the system does not come on after showers, so your lawn is not overwatered.

Why adjust your sprinkler head?

Sprinkler heads will need to be adjusted periodically to suit the needs of your lawn. Your sprinkler heads are installed in various zones across your yard to provide complete coverage. However, the design for this coverage may not be perfect. After your system is installed, you may need to adjust the sprinkler heads to ensure the spray pattern, arc and coverage meets the needs of your yard.

The watering requirements of your yard will vary according to a number of factors. For example, areas of your lawn that receive eight hours of direct sunlight each day will need far more water than areas in full or partial shade. You’ll also need to consider the type of soil, drainage and grass in your yard.

So, if you notice that particular sections of your yard have started to turn brown or conversely become a little waterlogged, you will need to adjust your sprinkler heads. This will allow you to get the appropriate amount of water in the different areas of your yard.

How to adjust pop-up sprinklers

How to Adjust Sprinkler HeadsIf you have them, it is crucial that you know how to adjust pop up sprinklers. The factory

setting for most adjustable sprinkler heads is 180º, but you may need to adjust them to ensure coverage. You can adjust your pop-up sprinklers while the water is off or on.

  • Note Your Installation: The first thing you need to do is take a note of your sprinkler installation. The sprinklers in the middle of your yard are typically set for 360º rotation, while at the edges and corners, they typically rotate at a 50º angle.
  • Adjust Your Water Pressure: Before you start exploring how to adjust your sprinkler heads, you should try adjusting the water pressure. You may find that reducing or increasing your water pressure from the mains water supply addresses any coverage issues.
  • Adjust the Sprinkler Angles: You should position the angles of your sprinkler heads, so there are no gaps in the coverage. Turn the tip of the nozzle and the screw that you’ll find at the top of each head.
  • Adjust the Arc: The angle that is formed by your sprinkler is called the arc. If you want the sprinkler to cover a semi circular area, you need to adjust the arc to 180º. To make adjustments, find the adjustment socket and holding it firmly in place turn it to the right. Then rotate the socket clockwise with the plastic head of a wrench to increase the arc. You can do the reverse to decrease the arc.

How to adjust impact sprinklers

How to Adjust Sprinkler HeadsNext, we’ll cover how to adjust impact sprinkler heads. These types of heads sit on a rotating bearing, so they pivot when the water flows through them for a 360º coverage. To fine tune the coverage, this can be accomplished in several steps.

  • Adjust the Water Flow: This is the easiest way to adjust your coverage. Just tighten or loosen the hose faucet that supplies your sprinklers. For example, a lower water flow will help to avoid damage to delicate plants with a forceful blast of water.
  • Alter the Diffuser Pin Position: This is a large screw that is anchored on the sprinkler head base. It breaks up the stream of water causing it to fan in a more delicate mist. Screw the pin clockwise if you want to decrease the sprinkler distance.
  • Adjust the Deflector Shield: The flat metal square on the body of the sprayer head is called the deflector shield. This redirects water into a lower arc to water nearby patches of grass or plants.
  • Use Friction Collars: The friction collars can alter the spray pattern of your sprinkler heads. You can twist the metal clamps around the sprinkler head base into different positions to alter the movement of the head. When the collars are closer, there is a narrower watering range.
  • Adjust your Distance Control Dial: The best impact sprinklers have a separate dial to manually set the spray distance. If your system has this dial, you can reduce or increase the pressure of the water stream.
  • Flip the Trip Pin: If you want your sprinklers to rotate fully, life the trip pin, so it rests against your sprinkler head. This will then allow the water to be sent out in a smooth and radial motion.

How to adjust rotor sprinklers

If you want to learn how to adjust rotating sprinkler heads, the process is even more straightforward.

Firstly, you need to check the sprinkler head is flat to the horizon to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Check whether the head is fixed to the left or right. Ensure the fixed side is in line with the starting point by turning the head. Switch on the sprinklers and allow them to cycle several times. You can then use the arc adjustment to set your final rotation point.

Finally, adjust the spray distance using the adjustment screw. If you need to increase the spray, turn it counterclockwise or if it sprays too far, turn it clockwise.

Final thoughts

A sprinkler system can be an efficient way to keep your lawn lush. There are many reputable sprinkler brands that allow you to keep your lawn watered without wasting water. However, it is crucial to know how to adjust the sprinkler heads. Whether you have hunter sprinkler heads or rainbird sprinklers, it is important to check the specific instructions on how to adjust the heads.

Fortunately, most types of sprinklers can be easily adjusted without the need for specialist tools or professional experience. By familiarizing yourself with your sprinkler system, you can learn how to adjust your sprinkler heads, making the necessary alterations to ensure your lawn has adequate coverage.


Outdoor Water Use in the United States - EPA
The average American family uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is devoted to outdoor uses. More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens. Nationwide, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for nearly one-third of all residential water use, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *