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How To Adjust Sprinkler Heads

How To Adjust Sprinkler Heads

A beautiful lawn is one of the most outstanding features of a garden. But simply turning on the sprinkler system won’t help if the grass is not getting adequate water coverage or if all the water is spraying on the sidewalk.

So what can you do to make sure the grass gets the right amount of water to thrive?

One solution is to adjust your sprinkler heads to ensure even sprinkler spray. Fortunately, adjusting sprinkler heads is not a complicated task.

Why Adjust Sprinkler Heads?

Your lawns watering needs are not uniform. For one, an area of your yard in direct sunlight will need more water than a shaded area. Secondly, some parts of the yard may not drain as well as the others, and they’ll need less water.

That’s why you need to adjust sprinkler heads to ensure that they distribute the appropriate amount of water on all the different areas of the lawn.

You may also need to adjust the head periodically as the weather changes — to make sure the water spray pattern covers your lawn adequately.

Adjusting Your Sprinkler Heads

Step #1: Identify the Sprinkler Type

The first step in adjusting your sprinkler heads is to identify the types of sprinklers you have in your system. Each different sprinkler head will need to be adjusted differently.

There are three main types of sprinkler heads:

  • Gear-driven rotors
  • Pop-up sprinklers
  • Impact or multi-trajectory sprinklers
Type of Sprinkler Head Movement of Sprinkler Head Spray Pattern
Gear-Driven Rotor Rotates back and forth Single water stream
Pop-Up Sprinklers Pops up but doesn’t turn when spraying. Circular spray
Impact or Multi-Trajectory Sprinkler Sprays in different directions Multi-trajectory stream

Step #2: Assess Your Lawn’s Watering Needs

Identify the areas of your lawn that need watering adjustments. Look out for areas with brown or withered-looking grass. The areas with browner grass will need a larger stream of water.

Also, check if there are any soaked or swampy-looking areas; those will require less water.

Step #3: Get the Right Tools

adjustment screw
Rain Bird - ROTORTOOL - Rotor Adjustment Tool

Once you’ve determined the types of sprinklers in your yard, it is time to find the tools for the job.

Here are the tools you’ll need depending on the spray head:

  • Rotor nozzle adjustment tool
  • Slotted screwdriver
  • Rotor screwdriver
  • Hex wrench

Pro Tip: Manufacturers usually sell adjustment tools that work best for their own sprinkler heads. For example, If you have a Hunter-manufactured sprinkler system, get a Hunter adjustment tool. The same goes for making adjustments to a Rain Bird irrigation system.

adjustment screw
Hunter - 172000 - Rotor Adjustment Tool, Fits All Hunter Rotors

Head on over to the Sprinkler Supply Store to get the proper adjustment tools for your sprinklers.

Step #4: Start Adjusting Your Sprinkler Heads

Now that you have everything you need, you’re ready to start adjusting your sprinkler heads. Here’s the step-by-step process for adjusting each type of sprinkler head.

Rotor Sprinkler Head Adjustment

rotor heads
Hunter - I2504 - I-25 4 in. Pop-up Rotor; with Check Valve

  1. Turn your irrigation system on and stand behind the rotor you want to adjust.

    Caution: Ensure you are behind the sprinkler and you don’t look directly at it; otherwise, you could get hurt by the water pressure when it first comes out.

  2. Turn the rotor spray head all the way to the left to complete any cycle the rotor might be doing.

    Note: Find the “right stopping point” by applying pressure to the top of the head and turning it all the way to the right until it stops spraying. Do not try to push the rotor beyond this point. The nozzle should now be facing far-right.

  3. Look for the “plus” and “minus” signs on the top of the rotor; next to those signs, you’ll find a tiny keyhole.

  4. Now take the rotor adjustment tool, place the key end (plastic side of the tool) into the keyhole on the rotor

    Screw counterclockwise to increase and clockwise to decrease
    Image courtesy

  5. Hold the head at the “right stop” while you turn the key. If you want to increase the arc, turn the key to the left. If you’re trying to decrease the arc, turn the key to the right.

  6. When satisfied, remove the adjustment key from the opening.

  7. Allow the sprinkler head to rotate and observe the water flow to see if you got the correct arc adjustment and spray distance.

  8. Repeat the process until you’ve fine-tuned the water arc and spray radius to match your lawn’s needs.

You can follow the same process on all Hunter and Rain Bird rotors. However, some Toro rotors have a fixed left-hand stop, not the fixed right mentioned above.

Pro-Tip: Use a nozzle insertion collar (pictured below) with your adjustment tool. The collar holds the spring-loaded head to make it easier for you to work on the nozzles.

helps screw clockwise to reduce
Hunter - 123200 - Nozzle Insertion Collar, Hold-Up Tool

Here’s a simple step-by-step video to help you out.

Pop-Up Sprinkler Head Adjustment

fixed spray arc nozzle 360 degrees 10’ radius
Hunter - 10-F - Pro-Spray Fixed Arc Nozzle - 10' Radius - 360 Degrees

  1. First, you need to check the type of spray nozzle on the head. If it’s a fixed spray nozzle, you can’t adjust it. For instance, an 8ft quarter pattern nozzle cannot be changed to spray differently.

    If the nozzle on your sprinkler head is fixed, the only way to adjust the arc is to replace the nozzle. Check out the wide collection of fixed arc nozzles from Sprinkler Supply Store and find the one that best suits your lawn.

    If you have a variable arc spray nozzle, however, you can now move on to step two.

  2. Adjust the arc pattern. At the top of the nozzle, you will find a small screw. Use a flat-headed screwdriver to turn the screw to reduce or extend the radius of the nozzle opening.

    Types of sprinkler heads on sprinkler systems
    Image courtesy

  3. Set the arc position by adjusting the stem to cover the spray distance you need.

    adjust with flat head screwdriver
    Image courtesy

Watch this video to see the process in action.

Impact Sprinkler Head Adjustment

turn the screw clockwise
Orbit - 56470 - Plastic Impact Sprinkler

Impact sprinklers don’t usually require much to adjust the spray and arc. You can adjust impact heads in a single-step process. All you have to do is rotate the head to increase or decrease the arc.

Turn the head clockwise to increase the arc or counterclockwise if you want to reduce the arc. Use an adjustment ring (pictured below) to get a better grip on the nozzle.

insert the plastic
Hunter - MPTOOL - MP Rotator Adjustment Tool

Tips on How to Adjust Sprinkler Heads

Keep the water running while you adjust the spray and arc. This will help you see if you have adjusted the sprinklers to your required specifications without frequently starting and stopping the water flow. Some sprinklers can only be adjusted while they are in motion.

It’s also important to ensure that each irrigation head sprays over to the next in every direction for full coverage.

If you need any help, get in touch with the team at the Sprinkler Supply Store.

To get your tools and replacement heads, you can contact Sprinkler Supply Store, too. We have over 7,000 parts stocked in our warehouse. If you still can’t get what you need, we’ll make a special order just for you.

Our goal is to give you only the best service, just like we have for thousands of other customers who’ve put their trust in us.

Store review

“Have purchased sprinkler components from Sprinkler Supply Store several times over the years for our home and rental residential properties. Good selection, prices and delivery.” Laura Belanager

Get in touch today, and we’ll help you optimize your watering system to get the healthiest, green lawn possible.

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