How to adjust pop-up rotating sprinkler heads

Sprinkler systems are a good way to hydrate your lawn and garden without manual watering. Among the various types of sprinkler heads available, pop-up rotating sprinkler heads are a popular choice because of their capacity to cover large areas with a good spray pattern. However, these sprinkler heads may require adjustment to ensure optimal performance and water distribution.

What is a sprinkler system?

Sprinkler irrigation is a method of spreading water similar to natural rain.

  • Pop-up or fixed spray sprinklers
  • Rotary sprinklers
  • Gear drive rotators 
  • Dripline sprinklers

Types of sprinkler heads

There are three basic sprinkler heads.

  • Spray Irrigation Heads
  • Spray Rotary Sprinkler Heads
  • Bubbler Irrigation Heads
  • Drip or Soaker Systems

What is a pop-up sprinkler head?

fixed spray sprinklers

Pop-up or gear-driven sprinkler heads are designed to provide uniform water coverage by rotating in a preset arc while supplying water in a specific spray pattern.

These sprinkler heads are typically installed flush with the ground and have equipped with a nozzle that determines the spray pattern and other adjustment features to control the arc of rotation and distance of throw.

These sprinklers rise from the ground whenever the system is activated, then retract back down when the system has turned off.

There are three common home lawn types: 

  • Traditional pop-up
  • Stream rotors
  • And gear drive sprinklers
Pop-up sprinkler Details
  • Price from $2 to $6
  • Sprays water in a solid pattern
  • SprayS up to 4 meters
  • It can be a fixed or variable radius.
  • Use a high amount of water to operate.

They need to be more adaptable in how you adjust them, too. While you can adjust the radius with some brands, there is only a limited function to adjust the arc (how far they throw). It can lead to overspray into areas where you want something other than water. More water it takes.

Some problems you face when using pop-up sprinkler systems:

  • Low water pressure on sprinkler heads
  • Failure of sprinkler heads to work
  • Leaky zone valve
  • Sprinkler zones are not coming on

What Tools and Materials need to adjust the Pop-up sprinkler?

Before adjusting pop-up sprinkler heads, gather the below tools.

  • Screwdriver or head fitting tool
  • Nozzle cleaning tool or a small wire
  • Replacement nozzles (if needed)
  • Tape
  • Marker or tape for marking adjustments

Having these items readily available will ensure a smooth and good fitting process.

A guide to fitting Pop-up sprinkler heads

Follow the below steps.

1. Finding and Recognizing Sprinkler Heads

When we adjust pop-up sprinkler heads, first, you need to locate and identify them within your irrigation system. Walk around your lawn or garden and look for small cylindrical objects flush with the ground. These are the pop-up rotating sprinkler heads.

Please take note of their places and physically map your irrigation design, which will help during the process.

2. Adjust the Arc of Rotation

After pointing out the sprinkler heads, begin adjusting the arc of rotation. The arc of rotation refers to the angle at which the sprinkler head rotates to distribute water. Take a screwdriver or a head adjustment tool to adjust the arc.

Adjusting pop-up rotating sprinkler
  • Place the adjustment screw tool on the sprinkler head top. It is usually located in the center or slightly off-center.
  • Insert the screwdriver or adjustment tool into the screw and rotate it clockwise or counterclockwise to increase or decrease the arc.
  • While making adjustments, observe the movement of the sprinkler head to ensure it covers the desired area without falling short.

Remember to make small adjustments and test the results before making further changes. It may take some attempts to get the desired arc of rotation.

3. Spray Pattern adjustment 

The spray pattern determines the shape and area covered by the sprinkler head’s water allocation.

Most pop-up sprinkler heads have adjustable nozzles that allow them to customize the spray pattern.

  • Locate the nozzle on the sprinkler head top. It is color-coded to indicate the specific spray pattern.
  • Twist the nozzle to align it with the desired spray pattern. Typical spray patterns include full, half, quarter circles, and adjustable patterns.
  • Direct to the manufacturer’s instructions or markings on the nozzle for direction on aligning it with the desired pattern.

Ensure the nozzle is attached and aligned with the planned spray pattern. It ensures that the water has evenly distributed across your lawn.

4. You have to Adjust Distance & Flow Rate.

The pop-up allows you to control the coverage area and the amount of water delivered to different landscape zones.

  • Locate the flow control screw or valve on the head. It is found on the side or underneath the nozzle.
  • Turn the screw or valve clockwise to reduce the distance and flow rate or increase the counterclockwise.
  • Observe the spray pattern and adjust the flow rate until the water reaches the desired distance without extreme misting.

It is vital to strike the proper balance between water care and good irrigation. It helps you reach good water usage and prevent wastage.

5. Substitute or Wash the Blocked Nozzles

 Sometimes nozzles can get blocked with dust, which affects their performance. If you notice uneven spray patterns cleaning or changing the nozzles is necessary.

  • Turn off the water Pop-up sprinkler supply.
  • Unscrew the nozzle from the head using a nozzle-cleaning tool.
  • Rinse the nozzle with water to remove any mud or waste. Use a brush or cleaning tool to scrub away stubborn blocks if necessary.
  • Check the nozzle for damage signs; if it is damaged or blocked, further clean and replacement with a new nozzle of the same spray pattern.
  • Screw the washed or new nozzle back onto the sprinkler head, and make a tight and secure fit.

Regularly cleaning or changing blocked nozzles helps support the optimal performance of pop-up heads.

6. Final Testing and Fine-Tuning for better sprinkling

Once you have made the essential adjustments to the arc of rotation, spray pattern, distance, and flow rate, test the sprinkler heads and fine-tune the settings if needed.

  • Give water supply to the system.
  • Keep the sprinkler heads in action, alerting the coverage area, water distribution, and any areas of overspray or insufficient coverage.
  • Make small adjustments to the settings as necessary to reach the desired results. Repeat the testing and adjustment process until you are satisfied with the performance.

Remember to consider factors such as wind direction, slopes, and specific watering needs for different areas of your landscape during the testing.

Follow the Tips for maintaining efficient and effective landscape watering.

To keep your pop-up heads in optimal condition, follow the below steps.

  • Regularly inspect and clean the heads to stop blocks and jams.
  • Check for leaks or damaged parts and repair them.
  • Adjust the heads to account for changes in weather, plant growth, and watering needs.
  • Watch the water pressure in the system to ensure it is within your head’s suggested range.
  • Consult the instructions or seek skilled help.

By following these tips, you can extend the lifetime of your pop-up sprinkler heads and ensure good and effective landscape watering.


Adjusting pop-up sprinkler heads is necessary to maintain a healthy lawn or garden. With the tools and an ordered approach, you can easily customize the arc of rotation, spray pattern, distance, and flow rate to meet the specific needs of your landscape. Regular maintenance will further improve the performance and longevity of your sprinkler system. It will help you achieve optimal water distribution and conservation, creating a lush and beautiful outdoor space.


Why will the pop-up sprinkler not rotate for some time?

The poor rotation may cause by dust trapped in the sprinkler head. Poor water pressure can affect sprinkler head rotation.

Can pop-up sprinklers be adjusted?

If your sprinkler’s nozzle had repaired, the only way to alter the arc is to replace the nozzle. Stores have many fixed arc nozzles to help you pick the perfect one for your lawn.

How often should we clean or replace the sprinkler nozzles?

It must clean or replace the nozzles at least once a year or whenever you notice reduced water flow or jamming.

What is a pop-up sprinkler head?

Pop-ups distribute water evenly over lawn surfaces. The spray mimics a soaking rain. Pop-ups normally have 15mm inlet threads with variable arc or fixed spray nozzles. Both have various throw characteristics.

How many pop-up sprinkler heads per zone?

Typically boasts 5 to 6 rotor heads and 8 to 10 spray heads.

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