Below you will find specific recommendations that can be used to implement high-quality irrigation without paying too much unnecessarily. An important principle in advance:
Mixing products from different suppliers is no problem! Feel free to buy the best product or an equivalent product, often at a much lower price, instead of stubbornly staying with the same provider. In this way, you can, for example, gradually replace defective parts in an existing system with better (and cheaper) components. Most oft the products are standardized and so everything fits together across providers. Where this is not the case, e.g. some of the control components, I will point this out explicitly.
Below are the specific purchase recommendations broken down by topic:
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Especially with the sprinklers there is the possibility to buy very good products at a reasonable price!
According to online sources, the USA accounts for 2/3 of global sales in the irrigation sector and automatic garden irrigation is common practice in many gardens in the USA. The big three US manufacturers Hunter, Rain Bird and Toro are in fierce competition in the market. On the one hand, this forces them to continuously improve their products and, on the other hand, it is reflected in low prices. These three manufacturers also dominate the professional and very demanding market for golf course, sports turf and amusement park irrigation worldwide.
Their products are tried and tested a million times over, reliable and contain some field-proven features, although I would put Hunter and Rain Bird a touch above Toro in the consumer market. The sprinklers listed under Hunter and Rain Bird in the sprinkler overview are all good products and you really can’t go wrong with your choice. You get a good, professional product at an attractive price and the sprinklers are available in many places and can also be easily purchased online.
The Hunter MP Rotator is a bit like the carefree package among all sprinklers and therefore my top purchase recommendation!
Hunter MP Rotator
The Hunter MP Rotator has integrated important functionalities such as a matched precipitation rate (MPR) and automatic pressure regulation (via a suitable body). This makes the implementation of an irrigation system much easier and helps beginners in particular to eliminate one or the other planning mistake. In addition, the MP rotator irrigates with a very low precipitation rate. This means that only a relatively low water pressure and a relatively small amount of water is required at the water delivery point and the slow watering is also environmentally friendly, since in this way a larger part of the water can be absorbed by the lawn. According to the manufacturer, this saves 30% of the water compared to conventional sprinklers. In addition, the sprinkler has the usual advantages of Hunter and Rain Bird products, such as simple, precise adjustment of the irrigation sector and radius, the ability to change the nozzles with just one movement, a color coding system, etc.
I present the MP-Rotator separately in a separate blog post and go into detail about its advantages and how it is used:
Blog post Hunter MP Rotator
Below are some ways to purchase the MP Rotator on Amazon:
As an alternative to the MP Rotator or if you prefer to use a conventional geared sprinkler, I recommend the Hunter PGP Ultra or the Rain Bird 5000. The Hunter PGP is the best-selling sprinkler in the world. The PGP Ultra (Amazon link) is the further development of it, into which new important functionalities have been integrated: Above all, the MPR capability through the use of MPR nozzles and the option of buying them in a pressure-regulating body. There are also a number of other practical details.
Rain Bird supplies the direct counterpart to this with the Rain Bird 5000. Its little brother, the Rain Bird 3500, is the best-selling 1/2-inch sprinkler to date. The big brother Rain Bird 5000 (Amazon Link) is a good bit better and absolutely equal to the Hunter PGP Ultra. It also has MPR and can be bought in a pressure-regulated body and it’s currently priced even a bit more attractively.
Hunter MP Rotator strip sprinkler for narrow strips
Narrow and long areas, e.g. a narrow front yard lawn strip 30 feet long and only 5 feet wide are among the most difficult areas to irrigate. For these, I recommend the Hunter MP Rotator strip sprinklers, which were specially developed for this scenario. These are always used in threes: The MP Rotator MPSS530 is placed in the middle, the MPLCS515 (LC stands for Left Corner) in the left corner and the MPRCS515 (Right Corner) in the right corner. Together they can cover an area 30 feet long and 5 feet wide.
Hunter MP Rotator Strip sprinklers on Amazon:
Spray nozzles: Rain Bird VAN/HE-VAN or Hunter Pro adjustable
Anyone who is looking for a classic spray sprinkler instead, i.e. a sprinkler that releases a lot of precipitation on small areas in a short time, has a large selection. In my opinion, Rain Bird is slightly ahead here, the VAN and HE-VAN nozzles have been tried and tested millions of times over the years and have a very good reputation. But you can’t go wrong with Hunter Pro nozzles with a adjustable sector or with Toro T-VAN nozzles, for example. There are also a variety of nozzles for special tasks, take a look at my blog article on spray nozzles. With the spray sprinkler you need a body for the nozzle. A Rain Bird 1800 or Hunter Pro-Spray body are good choices. If you need a pressure-regulated body, you can go for the Rain Bird RD1800 or the Hunter PRS series instead.
When it comes to pipes, you can choose between PVC and PE pipes. In principle, both are well suited for irrigation, but which of the two you use is a bit of a question of faith or depends on what is common in the region in which you live. In the following article I have highlighted the differences between the two types of pipes.
Irrigation pipe is usually not offered by the typical irrigation product manufacturers, but by companies that specialize in this type of pipe, which is also used in numerous other areas of application. Therefore, it is generally not worth giving preference to products from irrigation companies in this area.
The hard currency when purchasing irrigation pipe is the maximum permissible pressure with which the pipe may be loaded. This pressure is sometimes indicated with the abbreviation PN (Pressure Nominal). For example, PN 180 means that the pipe can be loaded with a maximum pressure of 180 psi. In principle: the higher this value, the better. Ideally, the pipe should withstand twice the water pressure measured at the water withdrawal point. Then you are on the safe side even in the event of temporary pressure peaks or water hammer. For example, if a pressure of 60 psi was determined on the faucet using the water pressure gauge, then ideally a pipe with a maximum permissible pressure of at least 120 psi should be purchased.
The requirements for the pipe are highest in the area where the pipe is constantly under pressure (mainline). This is usually the area up to the solenoid valves or the irrigation computer. The remaining part of the pipeline is only under pressure when the corresponding sector is flooded with water. Theoretically, the pipes for this remaining part can be made with slightly lower pressure requirements. However, from my point of view, it doesn’t help much, since the pipes with a higher maximum permissible pressure hardly cost any more in practice.