Step by Step: How to adjust rotary sprinkler heads

illustrations: David Preiss
illustrations: David Preiss

Irrigation rotors should be tested, tuned-up and adjusted at the beginning of each season to ensure they’re working as efficiently as possible.

Failing to do so can lead to more serious, long-term problems. For example, broken heads can cause dry spots in a lawn. Sprinklers that are not aligned properly can lead to water waste by spraying homes, driveways and sidewalks. Debris can get caught in pop-up units, causing uneven distribution. Overwatering can lead to a shallow root system, causing a lawn to become dormant and die.

It’s also a good idea for contractors to encourage their customers to become acquainted with their sprinkler systems so they can quickly let their contractor know if they suspect a problem.
To determine whether or not rotors need to be adjusted between annual tune-ups, turn on the system and observe each sprinkler’s distance and pattern. Take note of any broken heads or abnormal spraying and make any necessary repairs and adjustments. After adjusting the heads, check the lawn and landscape again in one week to ensure there are no dry spots or overwatered areas. Continue to adjust as necessary.

Follow these steps to effectively adjust rotary type sprinkler heads.

Step 1


Be sure the head is flat to the horizon by using a level. This step ensures the head is operating to its maximum effectiveness.

Step 2


Adjust the fixed side of the arc. Determine whether the head is fixed to the right or left and make sure the fixed side of the arc is in line with the starting point by physically turning the head. Turn sprinklers on and let them cycle three times. Use the arc adjustment to set the final rotation point.

Step 3


Adjust the distance of the spray by turning the adjustment screw clockwise until it touches the water stream. Then turn the screw counterclockwise until it’s not touching the stream. If water sprays too far, turn the screw clockwise until desired distance is reached.

Source: Massey Services
illustrations: David Preiss

LM Staff

LM Staff

Landscape Management's staff brings together collective experience in journalism, research, writing, and editing. Our team stays tapped into the pulse of the industry, covering a wide range topics with a commitment to delivering compelling stories and high-quality content.

To top
Skip to content