A Better Looking Yard: Upgrading Sprinkler Heads to Save Money

Sprinkler systems are often install-it and forget-it, few people give thought to maintenance or sprinkler systems beyond leak detection and repair. There are a couple of good reasons you should look at upgrading sprinkler heads periodically. Especially if your system was installed 8 or more years ago. In the western US where news of the historic drought has inundated us over the past few years, drastic steps are often taken when simple upgrades and repairs would suffice. It has gotten to the point California is naming and shaming big water wasters. With all of this publicity it is no surprise sprinkler companies have focused on improving residential irrigation systems. Upgrading sprinkler heads to newer versions will reduce brown spots, reduce overall water use, reduce growth of mildew/fungus, and potentially breeding grounds for insects. All of this while improving the look of your yard by more efficiently getting water where it needs to go. At a cost of ~15 per for the full head replacement and 10-15 minutes of work this is a great upgrade that pays dividends all season. If you wanted to invest less, replacing just the nozzle with an updated unit will cost only a couple bucks, and still get you many of the gains.

There are two main ways to upgrade a sprinkler. Either replacing the whole body or simply replacing the spray nozzle. As you probably guessed the first is more work and more expensive, the latter is less of both.

Upgrading Sprinkler – The Full Body:
– Most efficient upgrade.
– Best for systems 8+ years old.
– Reduce water use by up to 40%.
– Better coverage.

Upgrading Sprinkler – Spray Nozzle:
– More even coverage.
– Larger water droplets prevent evaporation.
– Improved close-in watering eliminates dry spots near spray head.
– Improved efficiency allows you to shorten sprinkler run times by up to 30%.

This gives you a good idea of the benefits of each upgrade. If you have an older system the full unit is the way to go, if it is newer then just the nozzle will likely be your best path to upgrading sprinklers.

As for the how? Here are two great youtube videos:
Replace sprinkler (whole head)
Replace just the Nozzle