One of the best things about owning a garden or a yard is the fact that you get to spend time outdoors whenever you want to, even during the current global situation. The bad part is that grass and plants require constant watering if you want the yard to look in tip-top shape.
Manually watering lawns and gardens using the old-fashioned hose method can be extremely tedious, and even dangerous if you have to be outside in the hot sun to do it. However, sprinklers can go a long way in making that job easier for you which is why, today, we’ve decided to talk about the sprinklers that are installed above the ground, why they’re good, and which ones are truly worth it. Stick around as we’re looking to discover which the best above-ground sprinkler is in 2021.
Top 3 Picks
Best Value: Trazon Garden Sprinklers
With excellent construction, stability when driven into the soil, and adjustable features and multiple connection possibilities, the Trazon sprinkler truly is one of the best products for its price.
Budget Pick: Gesentur Lawn Sprinkler
With a very convenient price and specifications that have driven many customers to buy this, the Gesentur sprinkler offers garden watering without breaking the bank.
Customer’s Choice: Aqua Joe SJI-OMS16 Sprinkler
“Great sprinkler! I am amazed at its range! […] I don’t give reviews often. This little jewel deserves one.” (Customer review)
What Is an Above Ground Sprinkler?
There are plenty of different labels given to the types of sprinklers available on the market, but the two most common labels are “above ground” and “in-ground” systems. Above ground sprinklers are extremely easy to install, as they’re usually attached at the end of your garden hose. They don’t require digging any holes or messing around with your home’s pipe system. They’re pretty straightforward and have a rather simple design. They have a platform and a nozzle that shoots water out of tiny little holes.
In-ground systems are more complex units, but still ones that bring a series of advantages when used in the correct setup. One of the major reasons why people choose sprinklers mounted in the ground is because they are concealed whenever they’re not in use. That makes them more discreet rather than having a hose with a sprinkler lying in the middle of the yard. They have different types of nozzles and heads but, in case something goes wrong, you might have to dig into the soil to expose and fix them.
Pros & Cons to Above Ground Sprinklers
As with every other product on the market, opting for above ground sprinkler system will attract a series of advantages and drawbacks, and it’s important for you to know about them when you’re looking to decide whether or not this is a product you really want to invest in:
Pro: They are easy to customize. This is an advantage that stands out when you compare them with in-ground units. Because the entire watering system is exposed, you can move it around easier, attach a different sprinkler or a new nozzle whenever you feel like it.
Con: They are always exposed. This could be a drawback if you’re the type of person that wants the yard to look perfect. While some models are more aesthetically pleasing than others, all above ground sprinklers are visible (especially on mower lawn), and might feel out of place in certain setups.
Pro: You choose where and what to water. Because they can be moved around with ease, you can choose to water different parts of the yard or garden without having to put in too much effort. While in-ground systems are fixed and moving them isn’t the easier thing to do, above ground units can be moved to a new location in minutes.
Con: They’re difficult to automate. In-ground units usually come with customizable timers and control panels that can make the entire watering process as easy as pushing a couple of buttons. Since above ground units can’t be customized to that extent, there is something the risk of over or under-watering your garden.
Pro: They are very affordable. That means that you don’t have to break the bank to purchase an above ground sprinkler, which attracts another advantage: they are less costly to repair. Whenever you have to deal with a broken sprinkler, you can replace it with a new one with minimal financial and physical effort, which is another pro worth taking into consideration as you’re weighing in the reasons why an above ground sprinkler system might be better for you compared to an in-ground unit.
How to Install an Above Ground Sprinkler
The manner in which you have to install an above ground sprinkler system will, of course, depend on the system we’re looking at. Different models are equipped with their own instruction manual which is meant to guide you through the installation process. While we can tell you what the general steps for installing this sprinkler are, it’s always best if you consult with the manual of the product you bought, since instruction may vary depending on the design and construction of the model. Generally speaking, there are the steps to install an above ground sprinkler system:
The spigot is basically the on/off dial for your sprinkler system. This is where you’re going to connect the water hose that serves as means of water transportation to “fuel” your above ground sprinklers. You’re going to have to check the water pressure for said faucet, to make sure that it has the necessary power to supply your irrigation system.
People that have large yards or plant gardens are most likely going to divide the area into different watering zones. This is particularly important when you have a garden with multiple flowers or crops, each with their individual watering needs. Watering zones are customized so that each receives water at a given time and in a given quantity. A multiport outlet is going to help with this watering zone setup. This is basically a thingamajig that you install on the spigot.
Installing a timer can automate the watering process a little bit, which could be important when you have different watering zones to handle or simply don’t feel like remembering when it’s time to water the lawn. The water timers are installed on the outlet for that specific zone you want to customize. While this step is optional, a lot of people are now choosing to have timers installed on their above-ground sprinklers.
When you’re ready to install your first sprinkler, you are going to need something that can carry the water from the spigot to the sprinkler. That’s usually a garden hose or a poly pipe. What’s important to remember here is that if you’re going to install one sprinkler and one sprinkler alone while using a downstream sprinkler outlet, the outlet needs to be capped.
Above-ground sprinklers are customizable to some extent and depending on the exact type of sprinkler you’re using. For the most part, this type of sprinkler system will allow you to establish the water throw distance, the direction in which the water is sprayed, and the arc’s length. Exactly how you can make these adjustments will depend on the type of above ground sprinkler chosen.
Oscillating models, for instance, are equipped with a knob that grants a 180-degree control over the arc. Fixed sprinklers, on the other hand, allow you to adjust the throw distance. Impact sprinklers are a bit more complicated to adjust. They use a wire clamp that’s mounted on the base of the sprinkler head. Adjusting them usually requires using a flathead screwdriver (make sure you consult the instructions manual to see the exact steps for adjusting).
As mentioned earlier, you have the possibility to install multiple above ground sprinklers. If you choose to do so, you can attach a new garden hose or some poly tubing to the outlet of the first sprinkler you installed. You don’t have to use a sprinkler identical to the first one, but it has to be a model that can use the available water pressure to operate at full capacity. The best place to install this sprinkler is to check out where its watering pattern doesn’t overlap with that of the initial sprinkler so that no part of the yard or garden is overwatered.
Best Above Ground Sprinkler
The Melnor sprinkler is considered to be one of the best oscillating models of its kind (at least when you compare the price with the performance of the unit). It offers a three-way adjustment system so that you can have more control over watering your lawn. The tabs will control the range of the watering pattern, the zoom controls can adjust the watering area, and the TwinTouch adjusters can modify the spraying width.
The three-way control system promises to cover about 4,200 square feet of garden space, which is pretty generous considering how compact and cost-friendly this unit is. Even with the many excellent recommendations for the XT Turbo sprinklers, two drawbacks stand out and must be mentioned. First of all, the plastic construction doesn’t provide the best stability on the market, so if you live in a highly windy area, there are chances this thing will be knocked over.
The second thing to keep in mind is that the fine holes that release the water spray are prone to accumulating dust and debris, so you have to make sure that doesn’t happen. If you notice drops in water pressure or less water coming out of the unit, it is a possibility that the holes are filled with dirt and require cleaning.
- Adjustable width, range, and water flow.
- Waters up to 4,200 feet.
- Multiple model variations to choose from.
- Questionable long-term durability.
Traveling sprinklers are something plenty of buyer guides fail to mention, but they are quite an interesting invention for people that want to cover a larger area using a single sprinkler. The Orbit 58322 is a self-propelled traveling sprinkler that comes with a three-position speed control, traveling the path of the hose to cover a larger area.
With a 200-foot hose, this sprinkler promises to cover up to 13,500 square feet of yard space, which is about four times more than your average oscillating sprinkler. It also allows you to adjust the spray coverage from a 15 to 50 feet diameter.
The construction itself also deserves some praise, as plastic is ditched in favor of a cast-iron body which provides more stability because of its weight and more durability, since it’s designed as a rust-proof option. It comes with an automatic shut-off system that uses ramp stop to turn off the unit at a specific point in the hose length.
- Easy to adjust.
- Covers up to 13,500 square feet.
- Works with hose-Y adapters.
- Durable cast-iron construction.
- Not efficient on bumpy surfaces.
When you’re on the market looking to save some money, the Gesentur sprinkler is the type of product that delivers more than you bargained for. It is a multipurpose unit that comes with plenty of features that are worth mentioning and which are surprising considering the low price you end up paying for a brand new product.
It features an automatic rotating spray head that allows you to adjust the spray distance and angle for the unit. The base is designed with an upgraded brass thread hose connector that promises to reduce leaks compared to other products of a similar design. The ABS plastic offers more durability than standard plastic choices, while the butterfly shape promises to offer more stability. The design also allows you to connect multiple sprinklers in series.
The base offers a 360-degree rotation for maximum coverage. You can select between two spraying patterns: direct spray (a slow spray that waters the yard like a rainfall) or scattered shot ( spray that covers more ground at a faster rate).
- 2 spraying modes.
- No-leak brass connectors.
- Can connect multiple sprinklers in series.
- Doesn’t cover that much area.
Another high-quality oscillating sprinkler that we wanted to talk about today is the Aqua Joe SJI-OMS16. It is a arealible unit that’s built upon a metal base, thus offering more stability compared to the Melnor XT Turbo, which relied on a plastic chassis for stability and durability. Furthermore, this unit promises to deliver 16 clog-resistant nozzles although, let’s face it, it’s almost impossible for a product that’s always sitting on the ground not to get clogged every once in a while.
With coverage of up to 3,600 square feet, the unit features adjustable range control that’s accessible through the sliding tabs. The clean-out tool is an excellent feature and one of the things that deserves most praise. Equipped to the side of the unit, this is a tool that helps clean the nozzles in a matter of minutes, which is super-important because debris and dirt will definitely get in the way of proper functioning.
- Easy cleaning tool.
- Adjustable range control.
- Customizable coverage patterns.
- Doesn’t cover the square footage claimed.
Another above-ground sprinkler system that we really liked comes from Trazon. It is designed to cover an area of up to 3,000 square feet, offering you the possibility to sit back and relax while this little gem does the hard work for you. It comes with three nozzles that have adjustable angles (from 45 to 90 degrees), allowing you to customize the spray direction so you can always get the results you want.
The design of the sprinkler uses a stake that’s driven into the ground, allowing the unit to be more stable the further you push it into the soil. When properly installed, chances of windy weather knocking this thing over are minimal. The unit comes with water connectors of two sizes, making it compatible with plenty of different faucet types. It supports multiple connections and comes with a sprinkler head that can rotate at a 360 degrees angle.
- Supports multiple connections.
- 360-degree head rotation.
- Adjustable spraying angle.
- Not good for clay ground.
If you’re looking to equip your above-ground sprinkler with a reliable timer, here is a product that’s bound to do you justice. The Orbit 62061Z is a product that comes with plenty of features designed to automate as much of the watering process as possible in a unit so compact and price-oriented. Note that you can also choose to purchase the two or three outlet digital timers, in case you want to create more watering zones in your garden.
Let’s focus on this model for now. It comes with a timed watering feature that automatically turns the water on and off at a designated time to prevent over and under-watering. The manual watering feature will temporarily turn off the automated settings without messing with the pre-established programs. The rain delay feature pauses the existing schedule with up to 72 hours to preserve water in case of rain.
- Water conservation design.
- Multiple outlet options.
- Rain delay feature.
- Comes with manual watering mode.
- Not very durable in the long run.
What is the best above-ground sprinkler?
There are plenty of reliable brands to choose from, with Orbit and Melnor being two of the many examples available.
How do I build an above-ground sprinkler system?
To make your own above ground sprinkler system, you are going to need a garden hose and a sprinkler head. Installing the system is easy; just make sure you read our section on “How to Install an Above Ground Sprinkler”.
Can you run sprinklers above-ground?
For the most part, in-ground sprinklers can be adapted to function as an above ground one. However, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to sprinklers that have been exclusively designed for above ground use.
How much does it cost to install a sprinkler system yourself?
If you are passionate about DIY projects, installing a sprinkler system yourself is literally going to cost you only the price you pay for the sprinkler (assuming you already have a garden hose to connect it to). Additionally, you are also going to have to pay for a timer if you want one installed on your system.
Having a more automated system for watering the lawn is important if you feel like you have no time to spare or are forgetful when it comes to hosing down the yard. When you have a garden, it can be difficult to keep up with the watering necessities of all your crops. In all these situations, an above-ground sprinkler can help you get things done without having to fret too much about your tomatoes not being watered enough.