How Oscillating Sprinklers Work

A big lawn needs to have a certain type of sprinkler - one that oscillates. Find out how it works to keep your grass, trees and plants watered, green and healthy.

There are several kinds of sprinklers you can use on your lawn in the summer when a lack of rain turns your grass brown. If you have a large sized yard, you might want to choose an oscillating sprinkler to do the job. Usually made of plastic and a heavy, rust resistant metal base, an oscillating sprinkler has light weight aluminum spray bars that have many small water jets built into them. When it's hooked up to a garden hose, the spray bars of this sprinkler move back and forth. The back and forth motion provides a spray of water out onto your lawn in a square or rectangular pattern. By turning a knob one way or the other, you can adjust the spray of the water to meet your lawn's exact watering needs.

As long as it operates correctly and waters your grass, you probably take the workings of an oscillating sprinkler for granted. But, it might interest you to know that it works on a small, water powered turbine. To make the sprinkler work, you need to attach its connector to a garden hose. Then, you turn the garden hose on full force. The water runs into the sprinkler, and then into a water diverter. The diverter separates the water into two streams. Part of the water coming into the oscillating sprinkler rushes straight ahead, while the rest of the water is moved off to the side. This way, the incoming water is able to power to things at the same time. The water that rushes straight ahead moves onto a tube that leads to the spray bars. This water is then forced out through the spray jets of the oscillating sprinkler and is scattered onto your lawn in a square or rectangular pattern. The water that is diverted to the side is the power that causes the spray bars to move back and forth.

So, how does the water make the spray bars move back and forth? When it's diverted to the side, the water runs across a small water wheel, or, in other words, a turbine. This water wheel spins around quickly; actually faster than it needs to move. Therefore, attach to the wheel is a set of gears that slow it down. There is also a plastic cam that's attached to the inner workings of the oscillating sprinkler too. This small, plastic cam moves around in circles. And, as it does, it pushes and pulls an arm back and forth. The arm, in turn, moves the light weight aluminum spray bars of the sprinkler back and forth.

To sum it all up, the water that eventually gets sprayed across your yard also serves as the power that operates an oscillating sprinkler.

And finally, the best time to turn your oscillating sprinkler on and water your lawn is between the hours of five to ten o'clock in the morning. You can operate your sprinkler successfully if you, or another family member, is around to turn it on and turn it off at the required times. Or, a better way to operate the system might be by using an automatic timer.

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