Oscillating or Pulsating?

Oscillating or pulsating sprinklers? And is it the same type of sprinkler your parents used?

Growing up, my Dad always watered the lawn with oscillating sprinklers, so naturally, when I bought my first sprinkler, that's what I chose.

I've tried the pulsating sprinklers, and even own one or two of them, but I prefer the quiet, gentle "rain" of an oscillating sprinkler over the "throwing" of a pulsating sprinkler.

I guess that's just how I was brought up. And yes, when we were little, on really hot evenings, my Dad would let us run through the sprinklers until we were soaking wet. Try that with a pulsating sprinkler. It would be no fun at all.

(Quick story... last summer I saw the kids who live behind me, who have a swimming pool in their backyard, playing in the sprinkler in their front yard. They looked like they were having quite a bit of fun. Just goes to show that sometimes having a sprinkler is better than having a pool and it's definitely a lot cheaper.)

Now, I know that some of you are thinking "no sprinkler" because you don't water your lawn at all. Normally, I don't water my lawn either but this spring has been quite dry around these parts.

I'm all for letting the lawn go naturally dormant in July and August when it is hot anyway, but this year it started to go dormant before Memorial Day, so I started watering some on May 31st. I know! I shocked everyone, including myself, when I did that. But that was the day I got a new roof put on my house and the lawn looked pretty beat up after 16 roofers stood around on it while they were packing up to leave.

I hope we return to a more normal weather pattern soon. If you want to see how odd the weather has been since last November, check out Robin's Nesting Place for some links to some of the NOAA headlines about our weather here in central Indiana. We had the driest May in 15 years, and June isn't much different so far.

And while you comment to let us know if you use an oscillating or pulsating sprinkler or maybe even one of those fancy tractor sprinklers that travels along the hose as it waters, I need to run out and turn off the sprinkler in the back. In addition to watering the lawn, I'm also watering the vegetable garden.

It's dry out there!


  1. We have a shallow well that provides all the water we need under normal circumstances. But when there is a drought we have to be very careful not to use too much water at a time, so that the well has a chance to refill. This means that precisely when I most need to water plants, I dare not. I have some soaker hoses, but don't even own a sprinkler.

  2. I have every sprinkler known to man, Carol. I though I won the prize when we moved to our new home last year and had a sprinkler system. To date, I am totally unimpressed. My hubbie assures me it just needs adjusting, but all I'm seeing is a lot of wastet water (and we're only allowed to water once a week!). I had a tractor at my old house, but bequethed (sp?) it to my old gardening buddy neighbor since I would no longer need it...sprinkler system, remember??
    Right now, my favorite is my old standby the oscillator, for the same reasons you mentioned. The pulsating one seems so rough. We've had so much rain lately, I've watered very little, with the exception of a little hand watering. Come and visit my new blog sometime. I will try to post for GBBD

  3. Carol, they've been saying on the news that, "brown is beautiful", (talking about the grass). They are trying to convince people to just let the grass go dormant rather than water, but that is so hard to do this early in the season. Brown grass is not beautiful to us so we have been watering just enough to keep it from turning brown, but not enough to keep it really green.

    I have a oscillating sprinkler for the grass and a nice wand attachment for my containers and flower beds.

    Thanks for the Extreme Weather plug.

  4. Carol, I'm with you on the oscillating sprinklers. The sound of it really is so much better than those pulsating ones. That said, I have a sprinkler system so I only use the oscillating sprinkler if there's a broken head I haven't gotten around to fixing.

    The dubious gardener has a tractor sprinkler dubbed "the little monster". He plans his life around how long it will take for it to travel the length of the hose. A trip to the store? Going out for breakfast? It has to be timed to the minute!

  5. This year I have received many pass-along plants from various friends, but to date, none have survived. Several types of herbs...ivy...rasberry bushes...they've all bit the dust, literally. The ground is so dry, that despite frequent watering, I could not keep them from dying. (OK, so maybe my black thumb had a little to do with it -but I'd rather blame the drought). Of course, there is one thing about my garden right now, Carol, that I think you'll be very jealous of........LOL!

  6. Oscillating sprinkler, all the way. I don't water my lawn, but I use it for the two veggie gardens. My parents weren't gardeners, but we did have an oscillating sprinkler that we ran through during the hottest summer days. Needless to say, my girls love running through the sprinkler, as well.

    I am sorry to hear about your dry weather! I hope all you Hoosiers get some rain soon.

  7. It's dry here in Maryland too. It's all I can do to keep up with the watering of the vegetables and flowers. And after finally getting a beautiful lawn, it's a sad sight to see it turn brown. (sigh)

    Love your blog!

  8. Running thru the sprinklers is one of the joys of childhood. During my childhood I don't remember having sprinklers, but I do remember playing in the rain on a hot summer day, and sitting on the curb with my feet in the gutter as the rain water gushed down the street. (Some of the uptight neighbors thought it disgraceful that I would sit on the curb with my feet in the water.) But you got your fun where you could find it back then.

  9. You are definitely right about the oscillating sprinkler for running through. The pulse sprinkler seems so energetic. I have them both but the one I really like is the copper one that is 'sprinkler art! It sprays in a very cool pattern! I posted a picture a week or so ago.

  10. Now, watering the vegetable garden - I'm with you!

    I have too much grass to worry about watering. I couldn't do it even if I wanted too. You are right that it has been entirely too dry. I have big cracks in parts of my yard that you could twist your ankle in!

    Just for the record though, I find the oscillating sprinklers more soothing, so that is the kind I own (and don't use).

    Good post!

  11. I have an oscillating sprinkler that's been out of use for three years. I'll water the veggies and I'll give the landscaping a drink now and then, but I'm never watering the lawn again.

  12. Definitely oscillating.
    I love to watch the robins go hopping through when it is running.
    I have been watering only where I have new grass seed planted, and also to water flowers.
    I do let my grass go dormant. And I have fits when I see neighbors watering lawns EVEN when there is a watering ban on. Yes, we have neighbors that do that.

  13. All... thanks for the comments. It seems the majority like the oscillating sprinklers!

  14. Growing up, we didn't have sprinklers so our best alternative was having "water fights" where we each had a big pail of water, and each sibling had a cup to dip into it to throw water on each other... Wonderful memories!
    We don't water our grass. Letting it go "dormant" sounds so much nicer than "letting it die." :-)

  15. Oscillating here, too. And it's been getting a good workout, because it's horribly dry here as well. I'm ready to do a rain dance. Some of my plants haven't grown an inch in the last month. :-(

  16. Oscillating, absolutely.

    I think of sprinklers as water features. Cheaper, and less maintenance, than a fountain ;-)

  17. Oscillating, stationary adjustable round, antique turtle sprinkler, resin gargoyle stationary, and a pulsing for really large areas (I don't use it anymore-I really prefer the oscillating too.)

  18. I do not own any. But am thinking about getting a Oscillating one, so the kids and I can play in it.

    Last Sunday me and my wife filled up some balloons with water and had batting practice. Needless to say everyone got wet.

  19. Oscillating sprinklers can get into those right angle corners of your yard without wasting a lot of water by over-spraying. The spray pattern is more like most yards are shaped anyway, i.e. rectangular.


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