Irrigation Troubleshooting: How to Adjust Sprinkler Heads

As temperatures start to climb, our lawns and gardens need more attention and more water to last through a hot Georgia summer. Many homeowners and business owners choose to automate this process with their own irrigation sprinkler system to ensure that their lawn always looks its best. 

Sprinkler systems are a surefire way to replace the task of dragging a hose and portable sprinkler around the yard and when properly adjusted, can see to it that every square inch of your lawn and garden is hydrated all season long.

Outdoor watering—especially somewhere as warm as Georgia—can take up a significant portion of each family’s water usage and make up a large part of each month’s water bill. Those looking to conserve costs and precious resources can cut back by making sure each spring that their sprinkler system is as efficient and targeted as can be. 

Watering Your Lawn in Georgia

Georgia has year-round outdoor watering requirements in place, which means that outdoor watering used for planting, growing, managing, or maintaining your landscaping and lawn is allowed only between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. each day. And in the event that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division declares a drought response, there may be additional watering restrictions put in place. 

If you haven’t done so already, you can install your own irrigation system with just a few tools and some careful planning. To do so, you’ll need tools like:

In Georgia’s climate, one inch of water per week is enough for turf grasses grown locally. Homeowners can set their irrigation systems accordingly and may benefit from tools to control watering based on weather conditions. These tools include:

  • Rain sensors
  • Soil moisture detectors
  • Smart irrigation controls
  • Drip irrigation

These tools can help homeowners water less to save money and water whenever possible.

How much should you water your lawn and landscaping each day? The answer depends on the capacity of your existing irrigation system. To see how long it takes for your sprinkler system to apply one inch of water to your lawn, you can test your irrigation to make any necessary adjustments. To test your irrigation system:


  1. Place shallow, empty cans (like tuna cans) around your yard, and run each zone for 30 minutes.
  2. Measure the amount of water in each can with a ruler.
  3. Use this information to determine how long your system needs to run to water your lawn with 1 inch of water. For example, if you measured ½ inch of water in each can, it would take 1 hour to water your landscaping with 1 inch of water. 
  4. From here, you can adjust the controls on your irrigation system accordingly. 

Each irrigation system comes with a set of sprinkler heads, which are only one component of a larger system. 

An important part of maintaining a sprinkler system is taking care to see that your lawn only receives the amount of water it needs, without under-watering or over-watering. Plus, if your sprinkler heads aren’t properly adjusted, they could cause puddling, dry spots, or overwatering in specific parts of your lawn, or you could even be paying to water a cement sidewalk or asphalt driveway instead of your landscaping! No matter how much you water your driveway it will not look lush.

Adjusting Your Sprinkler Heads

Before you start adjusting your sprinkler heads, it’s important to note that not all sprinkler heads are adjustable. So if you try to adjust it and it breaks, it’s probably not adjustable. Some sprinkler heads have a very specific spraying pattern. However, if your sprinkler head has a screw in the center, that means that it can be adjusted. 

Adjusting your sprinkler heads depends on the kind of sprinkler you own:

  • Spray sprinklers, which deliver even streams of water output
  • Rotor sprinklers, which spray a single stream of water as they rotate
  • Impact sprinklers, which cover wider areas and are much like rotary sprinklers only the heads do not pop up

Depending on your sprinkler head models, adjusting the head of the sprinkler can be a fairly simple process. Each sprinkler head has an integrated spray nozzle which involves a very small screw. Just a small screwdriver is all you need to tighten or loosen the screw until you get the spraying pattern and density that’s right for your yard. To solve issues of over-spraying and reduce water pressure, tighten the screw by turning it clockwise. To increase water pressure, turn the screw counter-clockwise. It’s like righty-tighty, lefty-loosey, but different.

Pop-Up Sprinklers

The arc of a pop-up sprinkler is determined by the angle the rotating sprinkler forms. Installing the head in a circle will result in a circular area. If you want to reduce this spread, you can adjust the angle to be 180 degrees instead. To adjust this, find the top of the head to find the socket and then turn it to the right and hold it.  Also, the size of the nozzle determines the radius of the sprinkler, which means that the larger the size of the nozzle, the bigger the radius of the spray. 

Rotor Sprinklers

Rotor sprinklers all adjust slightly differently so if you’ve installed your sprinkler system yourself, check the instructions that came with your sprinkler system to be sure how to make these adjustments. On the side of the stem, there will be a screw that keeps the rotor nozzles in place. 

Impact Sprinklers

You can’t adjust the radius of impact sprinklers, but you can adjust the arc. Usually, impact sprinklers have clamps that you can squeeze with a set of pliers to adjust to the desired radius. To do so, turn the sprinkler head to the left, then squeeze the clamp and rotate it until it’s against the tab that extends down from the sprinkler head. 

At Northside Tool Rental, we’re here for every project you’re ready to cross off your to-do list. Whether it’s installing your own sprinkler system and fine-tuning it each year to ensure the spray is just right, or tackling larger projects like pressure washing your deck with a professional-grade pressure washer or installing a new patio with a vibratory plate tamp, we’ve got the tools you need to complete your entire to-do list. To learn more, connect with us today!