Are Rotary Sprinklers Better? Comparing Rotary vs. Spray Sprinklers

When it comes to maintaining a healthy and attractive lawn or garden, an efficient sprinkler system is essential. But with so many options available, how do you choose the right one?

When it comes to maintaining a healthy and attractive lawn or garden, an efficient sprinkler system is essential. But with so many options available, how do you choose the right one? 

In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of rotary and spray sprinklers, providing you with the information you need to make an informed decision.

The Difference Between Rotary and Spray Sprinklers

Rotary sprinklers consist of rotating nozzles that spray water in a circular motion, covering a large area or small area. These days there are many different options available and more and more companies are developing Rotary nozzles.

Spray sprinklers, on the other hand, have stationary nozzles that spray water in a specific direction, These are the more traditional types of sprinklers.

There are a number of different types of Rotary sprinklers available but we will focus on the two most common

  1. Gear Drive Rotary Nozzles: These are a complete unit and slowly spin or rotate in a specific pattern. You may have seen them in parks however there are smaller units available for home irrigation systems which throw from 4.6 metres upwards. They can be adjusted in many different patterns -some may be 45 degrees some may be 365 degrees making them very versatile.
  2. Rotary Nozzles Fitted to Standard Pop-up Sprinklers: One example is Hunters MP Rotator nozzle which is a popular sprinkler used in many countries (also our favourite rotary nozzle).

Pros and Cons of Rotary Sprinklers

Gear Driven Rotor

Pros of Gear Driven Sprinklers

Coverage Area: These sprinklers can cover vast distances making them popular for larger properties with water bores. It’s not uncommon to see them spraying longer than 20 metres! 

Also, due to their rotating mechanism, Gear Driven Rotary sprinklers can cover a larger area than spray sprinklers, making them ideal for expansive lawns or gardens.

Reduced Clogging of Gear Drives: Gear Driven Rotary Sprinklers tend to get less clogged up from bores compared to Rotating heads and can also often be opened up and washed out and then reused. 

Water Efficiency: Rotary nozzles when set out correctly distribute water evenly, reducing the likelihood of overwatering or underwatering areas thus using the resource more effectively.

Cons Gear Driven Sprinklers

Less Precision: Larger Gear Driven Rotors may not be as precise as smaller Spray heads or Smaller Rotating sprinklers.

Wind Interference: Although Gear Driven Rotors can cut through the wind when throwing larger fences the wind can catch them and there is less controller meaning some overspray may get on driveway, fences and other features.

Pros of Rotary Nozzles

Coverage Area & Station Size: Rotary Nozzles also throw further than normal sprays and use less pressure therefore getting a great station size by covering a larger area per zone. 

Effectiveness: Rotary nozzles are very even in the way they throw far more than traditional spray heads. They apply the water in a unique pattern cutting through the wind and applying the water slower allowing all areas a better chance of soaking in. This works particularly well on a sloped site or a site with hard clay or rocky soil.

Control: Rotary nozzles are adjustable and can often be adjusted from as little as 45 degrees through to 360 degrees. They also have side strips which throw 3-6 metres sideways and only 1.8 metres in front perfect for skinny areas. They have a wide range of sizes throwing all the way up to 10.5 metres. The heavy droplet goes where it needs to as well instead of getting blown everywhere. In our opinion Rotary nozzles are by far the best out there for a home irrigation system off the mains.

Rotary Nozzle

Cons of Rotating Nozzles

Blocking: If the water source is very dirty they can block up. As they have little gears inside them sometimes they need replacing and cant be cleaned out.

Run Time: Rotary nozzles spread the water slower so need a longer run time. Even though its not using more water this can annoy some people 

Cost: Although you get a great run time and can often use less sprinklers as the Rotary nozzles throw further, the cost of the individual heads is normally more than traditional spray heads.

Pros and Cons of Spray Sprinklers

Traditional Spray Nozzle


Flexibility: Spray sprinklers can be easily adjusted to accommodate different plant types, making them more versatile for gardens with diverse plant life.

Cost: Generally, spray sprinklers have a lower upfront cost compared to rotary sprinklers.


Coverage: We find traditional sprays are not as even and unless they are perfectly head to head and overlapping in every area you will get a lot of brown patches in summer. Many traditional spray heads let out different amounts of water at the beginning of the spray than at the end compared with Rotary nozzles which are often even from the first inch to the last.  Spray sprinklers also cover a smaller area than rotary sprinklers, which may require you to install more solenoids, sprinklers, and stations to achieve adequate coverage.

Wind: Traditional sprays get blown around a lot by the wind meaning less water on your lawn. They also have a finer spray which tends to mist.

How to Choose the Right Sprinkler System

When deciding between rotary and spray sprinklers consider:

  1. The size and layout of your lawn or garden
  2. Your budget
  3. Your watering needs

Install your Sprinkler System with Experts

At Retic Renovation we have over 18 years of experience installing sprinkler systems. We do both rotary and fixed sprinkler heads, and can help you choose the best type for your lawn or garden.

We will also save you time and headaches by installing an efficient sprinkler system that provides full coverage. Say goodbye to yellow patches on your lawn!

Contact a Professional

Contact us today for more information regarding our services or for irrigation supplies in Perth.

Do you need help with your reticulation? Enquire now!

Luke Porter | Install Sprinkler Heads

Luke Porter

The Director of Retic Renovation is passionate about beautiful healthy lawns and gardens.

I have over 17 years hands-on experience in both landscaping and reticulation service and I’m extremely competent in problem solving, repairs, installation, and product knowledge.