How to adjust sprinkler heads

With the help of our in-depth guide, learn How to adjust sprinkler heads. Learn how to adjust radius, arc, and height as well as solve frequent problems for a healthier, greener grass.

How to adjust sprinkler heads

Maintaining a lush and healthy lawn requires efficient watering, and one key component of achieving this is properly adjusting your sprinkler heads. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a novice, understanding how to adjust sprinkler heads is essential to ensure your lawn receives the right amount of water in the right areas. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of adjusting different aspects of sprinkler heads, troubleshooting common issues, and even choosing the right type of sprinkler head for your lawn.

How do I adjust the radius of a sprinkler head?

Adjusting the radius of a sprinkler head controls the distance it throws water. Follow these steps to make sure you’re doing it right:

  • Locate the Radius Screw: Look for a screw on top of the sprinkler head labeled “Radius” or “Distance.” It’s usually at the center of the nozzle.
  • Turn the Screw: To decrease the radius, turn the screw clockwise. To increase it, turn it counterclockwise. Start with small adjustments and test the water coverage frequently.
  • Test and Fine-Tune: Run your sprinklers for a few minutes and observe the water pattern. Adjust the screw until you achieve the desired coverage without wasting water on non-landscaped areas.

How do I adjust the arc of a sprinkler head?

Changing the arc of a sprinkler head alters the area it covers. Follow these steps to adjust the arc:

  • Locate the Arc Adjustment Collar: This collar is situated just above the sprinkler head and is marked with degree measurements.
  • Rotate the Collar: Turn the collar to set the desired arc. Most collars can be rotated up to 360 degrees, allowing you to customize the coverage.
  • Test and Refine: Turn on the sprinkler system and observe the spray pattern. Make further adjustments if needed to ensure water isn’t wasted on sidewalks or driveways.

How do I adjust the height of a sprinkler head?

Changing the height of a sprinkler head is crucial to avoid water obstruction and uneven coverage:

  • Locate the Pop-Up Height Screw: Most sprinkler heads have a screw on the top to adjust the height.
  • Adjust the Height: Turn the screw clockwise to decrease the height and counterclockwise to increase it. Ensure the nozzle is level with the ground to prevent obstacles.
  • Check the Spray Pattern: After making the adjustment, run the sprinklers and watch the spray pattern. Adjust further if water isn’t reaching the intended areas.

How do I fix a sprinkler head that is not rotating?

A non-rotating sprinkler head can result from dirt or debris clogging the mechanism. Here’s how to fix it:

  • Turn Off the Water: Before working on the sprinkler head, turn off the water supply to prevent flooding.
  • Clean the Head: Gently lift the sprinkler head from the ground and rinse it to remove dirt and debris. Check for any obstructions within the mechanism.
  • Inspect Gears: Some sprinkler heads have gears that may get jammed. If you find any obstructions, clear them carefully.
  • Reassemble and Test: Put the sprinkler head back in place, ensuring it’s properly aligned. Turn on the water to check if it’s rotating correctly.

How do I fix a sprinkler head that is leaking?

A leaking sprinkler head can lead to water wastage and potential damage. Follow these steps to fix it:

  • Turn Off the Water: As with any maintenance involving water, start by turning off the water supply.
  • Inspect Seals and O-Rings: Leaks often occur due to worn-out seals or O-rings. Disassemble the sprinkler head and examine these components for damage.
  • Replace Seals or O-Rings: If you find damaged parts, replace them with compatible replacements, ensuring a proper seal.
  • Reassemble and Test: Put the sprinkler head back together and turn on the water to check for leaks. If the leak persists, consider consulting a professional.

How do I winterize my sprinkler system?

Properly winterizing your sprinkler system prevents freezing damage during cold months:

  • Turn Off Water Supply: Shut off the main water supply to the sprinkler system.
  • Drain the System: Open all the valves and drain the water from the pipes, using compressed air if necessary.
  • Protect Exposed Components: Insulate above-ground pipes and components to prevent freezing.
  • Cover Above-Ground Components: Use protective covers to shield above-ground sprinkler heads from ice and snow.

How do I troubleshoot common sprinkler problems?

Addressing common sprinkler issues can save you time and money. Here are steps to troubleshoot:

  • Uneven Watering: Adjust the radius, arc, and height of sprinkler heads to ensure even coverage.
  • Low Water Pressure: Check for clogs in filters, pipes, or valves. Clean or replace as needed.
  • Clogged Nozzles: Clean nozzle openings from dirt or debris to restore proper spray patterns.
  • Sprinkler Head Not Popping Up: Remove dirt around the head and ensure proper clearance for the pop-up mechanism.

What are the different types of sprinkler heads?

Sprinkler heads come in various types, each suited for specific watering needs:

  • Fixed Spray Heads: Emit a fixed pattern of water and are ideal for small, rectangular areas.
  • Rotary Nozzle Heads: Rotate to provide even coverage over larger areas, making them suitable for lawns.
  • Drip Sprinklers: Deliver water directly to plant roots, minimizing wastage and ideal for garden beds.
  • Impact Sprinklers: Rotate in a circular motion and are best for large, open areas.

What is the best type of sprinkler head for my lawn?

Choosing the right sprinkler head depends on factors like lawn size, shape, and water pressure. Fixed spray heads work well for smaller lawns, while rotary nozzles are better for larger, irregular areas.

How often should I adjust my sprinkler heads?

Regular adjustments are essential, especially after seasonal changes or landscaping alterations. Check and fine-tune your sprinkler heads at least once a month during the watering season.

Can I adjust my sprinkler heads myself?

Yes, adjusting sprinkler heads is a DIY task that doesn’t require specialized skills. Follow manufacturer instructions and our guide for proper adjustment.


Properly adjusted sprinkler heads are the foundation of a healthy and vibrant lawn. By understanding how to adjust the radius, arc, and height of sprinkler heads, you can ensure your lawn receives the right amount of water in the right places. Additionally, troubleshooting common problems and choosing the right type of sprinkler head can make a significant difference in your lawn’s appearance and health. Regular maintenance and adjustments will keep your sprinkler system running efficiently and contribute to a beautiful outdoor space.


Q1: Can I adjust the radius of a sprinkler head while it’s running?

A1: It’s better to adjust the radius when the sprinkler system is off to avoid getting wet and accurately observe the spray pattern.

Q2: How do I know if my sprinkler head is the right type for my lawn?

A2: Consider factors like lawn size, shape, and water pressure. Consult manufacturer guidelines and consider seeking advice from landscaping professionals.

Q3: Should I winterize my sprinkler system if I live in a mild climate?

A3: Even in mild climates, unexpected freezes can occur. It’s a good practice to winterize your system to prevent potential damage.

Q4: Can I use tools like pliers to adjust sprinkler heads?

A4: It’s recommended to use tools provided by the manufacturer to avoid damaging the sprinkler head during adjustments.

Q5: What should I do if my sprinkler system has low water pressure?

A5: Check for clogs in filters, pipes, or valves. Clean or replace any components causing the pressure drop.

Q6: Is it normal for sprinkler heads to make a clicking noise?

A6: Yes, some sprinkler heads, especially impact sprinklers, make a clicking noise due to their mechanism. It’s usually normal.

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