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What is a Rotary Sprinkler?

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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2016
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A rotary sprinkler is part of a lawn irrigation system. It consists of one or more rounded heads driven into the lawn using metal spikes. Each head is designed to automatically rotate 360 degrees, spraying water through a series of holes around the sprinkler's diameter. Water may be supplied to the rotary sprinkler through a series of underground pipes, or by connecting the head to a garden hose.

Some smaller lawns may require only a single sprinkler head, while larger areas will require multiple units. Rotary sprinklers are rated based on how large of an area they can water successfully. For example, a basic unit designed for residential use may be capable of watering all plants within a 10 foot (3.05 m) radius. Those planning to use rotary sprinkler systems in a park or golf course can either use a large number of individual heads, or switch to more powerful units capable of covering a larger area.

Rotary systems offer many benefits to users. The heads themselves are very inexpensive, and are much more economical than underground systems. The rotating action of each head minimizes the impact of wind, helping the water reach the lawn as intended. In addition, the sizing and layout of the holes on these heads help to spread water evenly across the lawn, covering both nearby and far away areas.

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One of the primary benefits to a rotary sprinkler is that these systems tend to use water more efficiently than other sprinklers. This can reduce the amount of water being used for landscaping, helping to preserve water supplies in the area. Less wasted water also means less runoff. Water that runs off of a lawn can carry chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides into local rivers and streams. By reducing the amount of runoff from your lawn, you can minimize your impact on the local environment.

Many types of rotary sprinkler systems can be set to an automatic timer. The timer will start the system at the programmed time, and will automatically switch off when the appropriate amount of water has been distributed. Most timers require homeowners to set the desired flow rate, or number of inches of water to be released per hour. They must also be set a specific start time. To further conserve water when using a lawn sprinkler, set your timer to operate in the early morning hours, when there is less risk of losing water to evaporation.

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