How Does a Sprinkler System Work: A Guide to Sprinklers From the Sprinkler Head to the Zones

An array of sprinklers water a green lawn.

Spring in Texas means the arrival of the familiar sight and sound of sprinklers watering lawns and plants. There’s a good chance you or someone in your neighborhood relies on them to bring out a brilliant shade of green in a lawn or help plants to grow. Like many things in our everyday lives, we often don’t think about how they work. In this blog post, HEB Plumbing & Sprinkler will describe how a sprinkler system operates and some popular types of sprinkler heads used on lawns, gardens, and farms. 

Sprinkler Systems

A sprinkler system utilizes pipes to spray water at different locations on your lawn, garden, or farm. Using a sprinkler system may save water when compared to spraying your yard by hand—saving money on water bills and benefiting the environment. Since a sprinkler system is embedded into your lawn or positioned in a garden or field, you won’t have to drag out a hose every time you need to water your lawn.

Sprinkler System Operation 

Just because a sprinkler system is automatic doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of work that goes into running it. It will need to be winterized, de-winterized, tested, programmed, and maintained.  

Sprinkler systems are programmed through a control panel. While there are variations in control panels, it’s likely that you will turn the system off or on and set the timer from here. 

You will need to ensure that your sprinkler system is set up to deliver the correct amount of water needed. Too much or too little water can damage your grass or plants.

Sprinkler System Maintenance

Sprinklers watering a lawn.

It is important to keep up with maintenance to ensure that your sprinkler system performs as it should. A poorly functioning sprinkler system may result in some parts of your yard not receiving enough or too much water. If you have a water leak, it will not only waste water but also drive up your water bill. Regular maintenance can prevent expensive and inconvenient repairs.

Sprinkler System Zones

Depending on the location and what you are watering, it may call for more or less water. For example, locations in the sun will require more water than locations in the shade. Sprinkler systems are divided into “zones” that allow users to adjust how much water is distributed to each section. 

Where Does the Water for the Sprinklers Come From?

The water is drawn from a source such as a municipal water supply or a well. It then travels through pipes that are controlled by valves to the sprinkler heads.

Types of Sprinkler Heads

Several types of sprinkler heads are available. Different sprinkler systems are made for different uses. Depending on the type of sprinkler head you select, it will have different advantages. Below is a list of commonly found sprinkler heads used for watering lawns, gardens, and even farms.

Spray Head Sprinklers

Spray head sprinklers, also known as spray irrigation heads or fixed head sprinklers, are best suited for small to medium-sized yards. These heads deliver a fine mist that provides even coverage for a lawn. The nature of the spray means it is susceptible to being blown in the wind. A spray head sprinkler may not be the best choice for areas prone to windy conditions.

Rotary Head Sprinklers

Rotary, a.k.a. gear-driven head sprinklers, work well in medium to large yards. These sprinkler heads work by rotating so water can be sprayed around them. They also work well with slow-draining soil and locations that have slopes. Unlike spray head sprinklers, rotary head sprinklers stand up better to the wind.

Multiple Stream Sprinklers

Multiple stream sprinklers spray in different directions at the same time. These use thin water streams in an attempt to conserve water. They are a good choice for medium-sized lawns, uneven terrain, and slopes.

Pop-Up Sprinklers

Pop-up sprinklers remain hidden away when they are not being used and “pop” out of the ground when in use. They are a good choice for when you want a discrete look.

Bubbler Irrigation

Bubbler, a.k.a. flood irrigation systems, are used for trees and shrubs. A bubbler irrigation system is a great choice when you need water to reach a plant’s roots. They supply a large amount of water from roughly six inches above the ground.

Drip Irrigation

As with Bubbler irrigation systems, drip irrigation systems are not intended for use with lawns, but they work well with a variety of plants. This type of system works great in areas with uneven terrain or strong winds. It is commonly used by farmers and is known for its efficiency.

Shrub Sprinkler Heads

Shrub sprinkler heads are positioned above foliage. You can use shrub sprinkler heads to irrigate planters, thick gardens, and ground cover. Please note that these present a tripping hazard, so it is essential to position them out of the way of foot traffic.

Sprinkler Maintenance and Repair in Tarrant County, Texas

Kathlyn Smith, Owner of HEB Plumbing exits her van on the way to another job.

Sprinkler systems need to be maintained. Failure to do so can result in issues, including repair costs, higher water bills, and unevenly watered lawns. That’s where HEB Plumbing & Sprinkler comes in. Our award-winning company has the experience and know-how to maintain and repair your sprinkler system, so your yard will look its best. Our work has earned us many five-star reviews from satisfied customers, and we proudly maintain an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. 

Contact us to schedule your sprinkler system service or repairs!

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