The 6 Best Tripod Sprinklers
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in February of 2017. Watering your garden can be a tricky business, especially if you have to ensure you cover your flowers and shrubs along with the lush lawn you are cultivating. Each of the tripod sprinklers listed here is a convenient solution, as you can set them up just about anywhere and adjust their height, spray distance, and coverage area in order to zero in on the thirstiest spots. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
August 13, 2019:
While a standard lawn sprinkler covers grass and shrubs close to the ground, a tripod sprinkler comes in handy when you have a large or heavily planted yard to cover. Its tall height conveniently saves you from having to move a smaller sprinkler around your property multiple times per day. They come in different height ranges and are made from a variety of materials, as our list reflects, so you’re sure to find one that’s right for your preferences and budget.
Joining our list today is the Melnor 65066, which is ideal for covering large lawns and gardens, thanks to its ability to extend up to four feet in height to cover an area that’s 85 inches in diameter. You can set your desired spray pattern by moving the two stops closer or farther apart. To cover a full 360-degree range, just flip up the arm. An added tip: Melnor also sells a convenient, quick-connect piece that attaches to the tripod’s adapter to provide a fast plug-and-play connection with your hose. It’s a big time-saver when you’re rushing to get your watering started on busy mornings.
For possibly the most high-tech choice around, look to the Orbit Enforcer, which features handy, AA battery-powered sensors that enable you to set it to run only in the day, only at night, or continuously. This functionality proves useful for those who prefer to water during darkness, when there’s no chance of guests or delivery persons coming by. The Enforcer also has the ability to detect the presence of critters from up to 40 feet away, and it combines sound, water, and motion to humanely shoo them out of your precious vegetable garden or flower bed. It’s great for keeping deer at bay, as well as squirrels, rabbits, skunks, birds, and more.
Leaving the list in this update is the Sommerland Spring, due to availability concerns.
Sime Koala This heavy-duty, commercial-grade brass sprinkler features a sturdy 3/4-inch base and is designed for years of worry-free operation. It comes with an adjustable jet breaker and can accommodate a flow of three to 10 gallons per minute, up to 90 feet in diameter. It’s ideal for large, grassy areas, as well as vegetable gardens, flower beds, orchards, shrubs, and more. bigsprinkler.com
A Brief History Of Sprinklers
This made lawns and gardens widely available, and they began to pop up all over Europe.
For most of human history, there were no lawns. Instead, there were simply places for livestock to graze.
However, that doesn't mean that the need to find efficient ways to water the land wasn't pressing. Irrigation techniques date back to 6000 B.C.E., when the ancient Mesopotamians capitalized on the flooding of the Nile, using its overflow to water crops.
Water-on-demand first took shape about 3000 years later, when Egypt's King Menes began a massive irrigation project that would eventually include dams and canals, and even the construction of a man-made lake for water storage.
It was the Romans who would first truly master the wet stuff, though. They created cement pipes as early as 2000 B.C.E., and eventually built a vast system of aqueducts that allowed them to transport liquid over long distances.
Virtually all the innovations of the next few millennia were designed for industrial-scale agricultural purposes, like the windmill, water wheel, and Archimedes screw.
That all changed when lawns became in vogue in Europe during the 18th century C.E. The rich and powerful used their yards as lavish displays of wealth, and as such, there was a need to water them — but re-directing the Nile was a bit of overkill. Still, anyone with the means to afford a lawn back then also had the means to afford a large staff, many of whom were tasked with bringing water in.
Once municipal water supplies began to be installed following the Industrial Revolution, it was possible to bring water in via hose. This made lawns and gardens widely available, and they began to pop up all over Europe.
That inevitably led to the creation of the sprinkler. The first patent was issued in 1871, to a J. Lessler of Buffalo, NY. It didn't immediately hit production, however — but that's OK, as there was a whole host of similar products coming down the pike.
The most important of these was the impact sprinkler, which was developed by a fruit farmer in California named Orton Englehardt (they all had names like that back then — it was the olden days). His invention distributed an even amount of water over a large area, making it easier than ever to water crops.
Englehardt's invention soon spread to lawns and yards across the nation, especially after WWII, when having a lawn and a white picket fence was seen as every American's birthright.
Today, sprinklers are commonplace, and they haven't changed much in the past 100 years or so. What has changed, though, is the amount of automation behind them; you can program a home irrigation system to do just about anything you want, including skip days when it rains.
Now, if we could just make a sprinkler that would mow the lawn...
Benefits Of A Tripod Sprinkler
You may be asking yourself, "Isn't a regular sprinkler system good enough? Why do I need to get one on stilts?"
The fact of the matter is, a basic sprinkler system will be more than enough for most homes — but there are certain situations that will benefit greatly from a tripod sprinkler.
If you have trees, or a garden with lots of hanging vines, a tripod sprinkler can get water into hard-to-reach places much easier than a ground-based model.
The main advantage of a tripod sprinkler is that it's capable of reaching farther than a basic sprinkler can. This is ideal for larger yards, while also saving you from having to install and maintain multiple heads.
Plus, since they're easily portable, you can always water the exact spot that needs it. This allows for quite a bit of customization at a low price.
Not everyone just has grass to water, either. If you have trees, or a garden with lots of hanging vines, a tripod sprinkler can get water into hard-to-reach places much easier than a ground-based model.
That's not to say that they're perfect, however. It's a little bit more of a pain to move a tripod around and attach a garden hose every time you water than it is to set a timer and then forget all about it. Also, storing the thing can be a hassle, especially if you're already short on garage space.
Of course, there's no law saying you can't have both a tripod and regular sprinkler system. That's a smart solution for anyone that wants to put watering the grass on autopilot, while still having control over how often the tomatoes get soaked.
Think about it — two sprinkler systems. Who's laughing now, King Menes of Egypt?
How Often Should You Water Your Lawn?
Watering frequency is a topic that's fiercely debated among landscapers and gardeners, and there may not be a broad consensus about the best way to go about doing it. However, there are a few things that generally seem to be agreed upon.
Once the mercury climbs, however, it's right back to the 20 minutes, three times a week rule.
The first is that it's better to water deeper and less frequently than shallow every day. Let the sprinklers run for a good amount of time — you want to make sure that you get at least an inch of water down, which can take anywhere from 20-30 minutes with most sprinklers.
Watering it daily also has the unfortunate side effect of establishing a shallow root system, which can dry out your yard.
You can let up on the watering a little bit when it gets cold, as there's less evaporation that occurs. Once the mercury climbs, however, it's right back to the 20 minutes, three times a week rule.
There are a few easy ways to check if you're watering enough. The most important is how good your grass looks. If it's lush and verdant, keep doing what you're doing. If you're still not sure, though, try jabbing a screwdriver into the ground; if it easily sinks six or seven inches, you're watering enough.