Pros and Cons of an Oscillating Sprinkler


An Oscillating sprinkler is a form of irrigation sprinkler. It is popularly used for homes and large industrial or commercial settings. Currently I have a ColorWave CW-9MOS-O and a Melnor 300 with brass nozzles. The first I bought at Wal-Mart; the second I bought online. Previously I have bought several different sprinkler systems and a couple of different model oscillators.

The Goal
This article will discuss my personal experience when it comes to irrigation sprinklers. Special attention will be given to oscillators, the same currently being my personal favorite.

PRO: Save on Water
A lawn sprinkler saves on water. This is as opposed to using a hose and pinching the ends. By using an Oscillator you make sure that you water easily, sparingly (but adequately), and evenly.

CON: Added Cost
A medium grade sprinkler can cost you anywhere between $10 and $20. Heavy duty units can cost $50 to $100 (or higher). I bought my Melnor 300 for around $15 and the ColorWave for $45.

Tip #1
Plastic oscillators are okay. But make sure that the nozzle of the unit is made with brass or sturdier alloys. This way, you can unclog repeatedly without damaging the unit. Cheaper units use plastic components. These are usually lighter. Weigh the unit down with a couple of rocks so the oscillator doesn’t jump all over the place. More expensive ones are heavier, have a metal or alloy body and brass nozzles. Some even come with pegs and are very colourful to minimize tripping over them.

oscillating sprinklerPRO: Save on Water Bills
If you use less water, you save on your bills. This may not seem like much, especially considering the initial cost of more expensive units. But the fact is you are wasting less water and keeping your lawn and/or plants properly hydrated (not overwatered).

CON: It Moves
The problem with an Oscillating sprinkler is that it can be moved inadvertently i.e. you nudge or trip the hose, your pet plays with it, the pressure makes it jump round. As a result your original coverage area is not properly hydrated. Simply put, you miss a spot. This will not happen with a permanently placed irrigating system like an underground sprinkler.

Tip #2
Different models have different functions and effective coverage area. Some homeowners/gardeners solve the situation by using a couple of oscillators. In my experience, it would be best to open each unit at different times. This way, your water pressure is at its maximum and each unit can cover more ground.

PRO: Minimal Cost
The problem with moving, tripping and jumping can easily be remedied by pegs/stakes, signs, and weights. And this will not cost you an arm and a leg! This is especially important if you are only renting the property. You don’t want to be installing an expensive and hard to remove underground sprinkler system.

PRO: Adjustable Output
Most of the units I’ve bought allow you to set the water output and the range of the sprinkle; the bigger the drops, the smaller the coverage area. Why do you need to adjust? Simple, you need to take into consider the weather conditions. In the summer you want to use more water, during cool days you can water less. If it’s raining outside, then you can turn off the oscillator.

Tip #3
Always keep a second Oscillating sprinkler in reserve. The last thing you want is for your unit to break down on a hot summer afternoon. Of course I tested it first for a few weeks just to make sure it works well and has adequate coverage.

In Closing
If you are buying from you local hardware shop, ask the proprietor what unit sells the most. And what unit he uses. If you are buying online, pay attention to the product description and the consumer reviews. Don’t forget to ask about the warranty.

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