Know Your Nozzles

If you see overspray onto cars, walls and asphalt, your sprinkler system heads may have the wrong nozzles installed.

Imagine taking a shower without the shower head in place. While you can absolutely do that, it wouldn’t be very efficient. The same principal applies to your sprinkler system and its nozzles.

The nozzle is the device on top of the sprinkler head that determines the spray pattern, angle of the spray, and distance it’s thrown. The right irrigation nozzle is essential to distributing water onto your landscape.

If you examine the fine print circling the plastic nozzle top, you’ll notice the specifications of both the distance and angle of the spray. This is key information when purchasing a replacement for a cracked or clogged nozzle. If there’s overspray onto cars, walls and asphalt, it could be that the wrong nozzle is installed.

There are three types of spray nozzles:

Fixed spray head nozzles: This type of nozzle has a fixed arc, meaning you can’t adjust the angle of the spray. They’re available in 45, 90, 180 and 360-degree arcs. These are the most commonly used spray nozzles and the ones most commonly seen spraying driveways, sidewalks and streets.
Variable arc nozzles, aka VANs: These nozzles are a big improvement over fixed sprays, because you can manually adjust the angle of the water coming out of the pop-up spray head anywhere from 45 to 360 degrees. These nozzles are ideal along driveways, sidewalks and the street.
Multi-stream rotary nozzles: also called MP nozzles, these function like small rotor heads, turning in slow circles with multiple streams of water. With the slower application of water, these nozzles mimic a good rain, so the ground absorbs more water and runoff is significantly reduced. On average, these nozzles use about 30 percent less water than a typical spray type nozzle. In addition, they’re less prone to wind effects, so your irrigation water will land on the targeted grass instead of blowing off course.

All of these nozzles are easily installed or retrofitted on to a pop-up spray body and are available at most home improvement stores. Replacing cracked or clogged nozzles is one of the easiest things to do when it comes to maintaining your irrigation system.

Remember, the better the distribution of water, the healthier your landscape will be — and less water will be wasted.


Picture of Adolph Garcia
Adolph Garcia
Adolph ‘Marty’ Garcia is SAWS’ numero uno, top dog, the go-to guy for all things irrigation and has the experience (that would be 35 years) and professional memberships to back up such a stellar reputation. Not only is he a SAWS senior conservation consultant, but he also holds a Texas irrigators license, in addition to a plethora of other credentials. (Did we mention he’s a licensed plumber, too?) Teaching people about water issues is his passion, second only to America’s pastime – baseball – and the hot dogs, pretzels and beer that go with it.
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