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MP Rotator 3 (Credit: www.hunterindustries.com)

Everyone enjoys a patch of lawn.  It’s cool to walk on barefoot, a comfortable spot for adults to gather and relax outdoors, and children and pets enjoy playing on it. But lawns do use a lot of water, and with up to 70% of your water use outdoors, the ideal lawn is one that will grow in our desert environment using water as efficiently as possible. One of the easiest and smartest things a homeowner can do is to replace their old-fashioned sprinkler spray nozzles with new water efficient nozzles.

Conventional “fixed spray heads” are the small heads that spray a fan-shaped pattern of water, somewhat like a shower nozzle spray. They apply water at a relatively fast rate which may not allow the water to soak into our tight clay soils and may contribute to runoff. Fixed spray nozzles are often prone to ‘misting’, an extremely fine spray that can evaporate quickly or drift easily in wind.

Replacing old spray heads with new, more efficient models can reduce your water use and save you money.  This is easier than you might think.  In most cases it’s not necessary to replace the entire sprinkler housing, just the spray nozzle.  If you can unscrew the cap on a bottle of water and then put it back on, you can replace a sprinkler nozzle. In just a few minutes you can give your irrigation system a tune up, conserve water, reduce puddling and water running into the street, and improve the health of your grass.

Rainbird Rotary Nozzles (Credit: www.rainbird.com)

New sprinkler products on the market can save as much as 42 percent on the amount of water applied to your lawn.  And, because the water is applied more slowly, and in droplets instead of mist, it soaks deeper into the soil and with less chance for runoff. They also deliver water more evenly over their entire coverage area, a vast improvement over conventional sprinklers.

Click on the ‘Lawn Stars’ listed below to learn more about various types of spray heads and even help for unexpected geysers. These products are available from a variety of manufacturers.

It’s easy to change a spray nozzle.  Read on for simple tips.
Replacing a sprinkler spray nozzle:

 

  1. Unscrew the very top sprinkler head. If it is a pop-up sprinkler you’ll need to pull up the riser a couple of inches to get a grip on it. If the insert is snug, you might need a pair of pliers. A special tool to lift the spray nozzle is available at irrigation or home improvement stores.  The little insert is the only part you are going to replace. You won’t need to do any digging or get dirt on your hands. (See a how-to video).
  2. Bring this spray nozzle, along with a list of the total number of nozzles you need, to a store that sells multi-stream or oscillating nozzles. Don’t worry about distinguishing quarter heads and half heads; most of the new nozzles are adjustable from 90 degrees to 210 degrees. Home improvement stores may not have these products, but most nurseries and irrigation stores should. Call ahead if you’re not sure.
  3. To install just unscrew the old nozzles (with the water off) and screw on the new ones. Turn the sprinkler system on and make adjustments to the spray direction. If needed, adjust the radius of the spray by turning the little screw on the top. (You may need a tiny little screwdriver for this, which is also available at irrigation supply stores).

Spray Head Pull-Up Tool (Credit: www.rainbird.com)

That’s it. In just a few minutes you’ve updated your sprinkler system, saved water, reduced runoff and made your lawn just a little bit healthier.

For more landscape and irrigation tips, please visit www.chandleraz.gov/water

Chandler is offering landscape watering workshops throughout the month of April. Topics include yard watering & timer programming, sprinkler design and how to maximize your irrigation. Find detailed descriptions and programs offered by Chandler and other Water – Use It Wisely partners at the Water – Use It Wisely calendar on our home page.

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