Summer is finally here and our entire family is thrilled! We’re fortunate enough to have a decently sized backyard and that’s where our kids spend the bulk of their time from May until September. As a result, we’re always looking for ways to cater that space to them without breaking the bank. We like to make sure they have all kinds of (occasionally homemade but quite often purchased) toys, games, learning opportunities, and activities that will keep them interested in being out in the fresh air. This year has brought on some record breaking high temperatures, so we’ve also been thinking of ways to keep them cool while they’re out there. That’s why we’ve been on the lookout for the best kid-friendly sprinklers we could fine across the Internet.
Of course, our motivation to purchase a new sprinkler was also rooted in how much we loved our own summertime memories of running through the sprinkler as kids. Since then, however sprinklers have really come a long way in their design. Rather than just hooking up a plastic framed metal arch to the end of the hose so it sprays upwards, we’ve been checking out all manner of unique, fun, and every colourful kids’ sprinklers that look more like the fancy “splash pads” you might see nowadays in playgrounds. We had no idea just how many different kinds of sprinklers were truly out there until we began our recent search!
What is a sprinkler?
Unless you live in a place that gets very warm weather during at least part of the year, you might actually have never tried or owned a sprinkler, so let’s start there. Sprinklers are water spraying devices that have hollow channels leading from a screw-in attachment, all throughout the piece to direct the flow of water out various holds in the material. When the water is turned on, the sprinkler simply sprays it out the holes and upwards, giving you a fun way to cool down that’s a little more creative and unique than just spraying yourself down with your garden hose itself. The streams from sprinklers are common for kids to enjoy running through, spraying at each other, and generally using as an outdoor activity that gives them both playtime and a moment to cool down in sun and heat.
Sprinklers are a more affordable, space-efficient, and temporary option for outdoor water play than in-ground swimming pools. They also take less time to set up and take down than inflatable or standing pools. On top of that, they’re a lot more portable and can be used wherever you can find a tap or spigot and a garden hose.
How do sprinklers work?
Regardless of what kind of sprinkler you end up choosing, you’ll end up using it by attaching it to the end of your garden hose. Most people use their garden hose with the outdoor spigot attachment on the side of their house, but we’ve also seen more than one household run the hose through the kitchen window and screw its end into their kitchen sink for slightly warmer water, providing their sink at the right kind of grooved tap. The other end of the hose then screws into the receptive grooved piece on your sprinkler, creating a continuous connection.
When you turn on whatever kind of water source you’ve using, the water will run from the spigot or tap, down the hose, and into the receptive piece on the sprinkler. From there, how the water comes out depends on what kind of sprinkler you buy! The attachment on the sprinklers itself will feed the water through whatever open channels it was built with so that it can then spray out the holes, make certain parts move so the spray changes directions, wet a surface for a fun slip element, and so on.
Who should purchase a sprinkler?
Sprinklers are most commonly bought by and useful for people with some kind of yard. Whether your strip of grass and hose spigot are in the front yard, backyard, or even just a side strip, a sprinkler can very easily be set up anywhere that there’s enough outdoor space for spraying water and some running around. Most people prefer to put their sprinklers on grad so that little bare feet have a softer ground to run on, but they work just as well on concrete so long as you’re mindful of safety. Some people even set their sprinklers up in parks of common public areas (with permission, of course) that have shared water spouts, letting larger groups enjoy some cooling fun.
If you’re still feeling like you could use a little more guidance in your own search for the ideal kids’ sprinkler, check out this list of the top 10 options we came across in our search! We’ve outlined their pros and cons in an attempt to help your decision-making process a little easier.
If you’re having trouble deciding on just one kind of sprinkler in all of your browsing, then perhaps you’d get along better with a combination piece that gives you all the best features of more than one type in the same place. That’s precisely what you’ll get from this 3-in-1 sprinkler design from splashes. Firstly, the inflatable sides of the pool feature sprinkler holes that let streams of water shoot upwards and arc back down on kids from above. The water them collects in the centre to make a very shallow splashing pool. The material it’s made from actually isn’t slippery for safety, but it does feature letter graphics and corresponding animal illustrations for matching in order to help kids learn letters while they play.
Although it’s not a common problem, it’s worth noting that some units have been reported to arrive with a factory defect at the seam of the pool’s inflatable edge. This is a flaw in the seaming process that fails to close it entirely all the way around and, as a result, lets the water that keeps the shape of the edge shoot out the side rather than coming out the strategically placed holes to flu upwards and rain down.View price on Amazon
- Learning graphics on mat
- Combination design with sprinkler holes and shallow central splash pool
- Affordable price and well-reviewed customer service
- Occasional factory defect in some units that causes a flaw in the edge seam so that water leaks out the side
If your kids are a little taller and unlikely to use a shallow splash pool with only small sprinkler streams raining down then you might get along better with this slightly taller design from Joyin. Their super fun, durable vinyl palm tree sprinkler stands 61″ tall and shoots streams of water from its top so they rain down on kids like a tropical storm all around. The tree is inflatable so that it keeps its shape even when the water is turned off and it features a water bag around the base to keep it properly weighted and standing solidly upright.
Be aware that some people found the instructions of this product misleading in terms of whether or not it actually needs to be filled with air. Some people interpreted them to mean that they could, in fact, just fill it with water in order to make thee tree hold its shape during use. In reality, the tree’s height requires it to be inflated and filled with water to make it stand nice and tall with proper shape.View price on Amazon
- Made from durable vinyl
- Great height for most kids at 61″
- Water bag at the base to keep the tree standing upright during use
- Misleading instructions; the tree must be both inflated and filled with water in order to keep its shape and stand properly
If you’d prefer a classic run-through sprinkler experience for your kids because those pieces tend to take up less room and be lower maintenance but you’re also quite taken by the idea of a cute theme, then here’s one for the cheerful flower lovers. This little sprinkler from Melissa & Doug screws simply to the end of a hose and sprays water in all different directions from the centres of a bunch of pink flowers. It’s an extremely affordable option and it’s made from durable vinyl-based plastic. Although the flowers don’t actually move, they’re still flexible enough to protect them from breakage in the event that they get stepped on, for example.
This piece has received overwhelmingly positive reviews over time, but we’d suggest being aware that some reviewers found the threads of attachment where you screw the hose in to be a little bit delicate. You want to screw the hose in tightly enough that a solid water line is created so the output can reach its full impressive height (up to about six feet in the air), but you still want to tighten it gently and with enough care that you don’t wear those threads down, breaking the good seal by causing the attachment to become threadbare.View price on Amazon
- Adorable, cheerful design
- Very simple setup and use
- Durable but flexible materiality
- Impressive water height potential
- Slightly delicate threads of attachment require care in tightening to avoid making attachment threadbare
If you’re still interested in sprinklers that cause water to rain down but you know your kids like to run through things like waterfalls whenever you visit the water park, then here’s an awesome alternative! This inflatable sprinkler design from Joyin is shaped like a skinny dragon whose body actually created an overhead arch for kids to run under. The underside of this arch features sprinkler holds that let water rain downwards like a refreshing curtain. The dragon is made of a high-quality PVC for durability and comes with stability stakes for the feet at each end to keep the arch standing upright.
Because of its unique shape and thin nature, this sprinkler is a little bit harder to take down than it is to set up. The whole length of the dragon’s body fills with water and the water that pools in the ends doesn’t come out the holes thanks to gravity when the hose it turned off and water pressure is lost. This means that it requires you to squeeze the excess pooled water out of the attachment piece in order to fully empty it properly for safe storage that won’t cause mildew between uses.View price on Amazon
- Durable, high-quality PVC materiality
- Stability stakes for proper shape and standing
- Extremely simple setup
- Excess water pools in ends during use and requires manual emptying by squeezing during proper takedown to avoid mildew
Are you feeling intrigued by the idea of a more standard but themed base sprinkler for your kids but you’d like a slightly less girly design? Then you might prefer this fun fire hydrant shaped sprinkler offered by iBaseToy. Despite its modest size, this little plastic sprinkler can spray water up to eight feet in the height. It also has a great spray radius thanks to the way it features spray nozzles on the sides and the top, with a spinning mechanism on the top to send the water flying in circles. The height of the water and the spinning action are all based on simple water pressure as controlled by you, and the sprinkler (which only stands eight inches tall) works with any standard garden hose for very easy setup.
Although happy with the spraying action of the actual sprinkler, some previous buyers experienced dissatisfaction with the seal around the edge of the attachment piece. This is the part of the sprinkler with the weakest materiality and, no matter how hard they tightened their hose into the attachment, they found that the seal leaked. This caused pooling around the sprinkler and reduced the water pressure and therefore the water height a little bit too.View price on Amazon
- Durable PVC materiality
- Three spraying directions with spinning top mechanism
- Water height of up to eight feet despite modest sprinkler height of only eight inches
- Attachment’s seal is a bit weak, causing leaking around the hose that creates a pool and slightly reduces water height
If your kids have always absolutely adored the splash pad at the park and you’d like to bring a little bit of that fun home for days when it’s easier to stick to your own yard, here’s a great option designed and sold by Soopotay. This combination activity has inflatable edges that feature sprinkler holds all the way around, letting water shoot up high and then arc down to wet the pad below. This creates a very shallow splash pool. The bottom of the splash pad is made from a PVC that’s just slippery enough for fun movements if kids sit or lie down, but not slippery enough on their bare feet to cause undue risk of falls. The splash pad is 68″ in diameter and is made with 100% non-toxic materials.
According to both the company and previous buyers, it’s quite important that you fill the splash pad by increasing water pressure gradually and building up to the full hose strength and therefore the full water height. This is the best way to avoid popping the inflatable pool sides. Although the model is reportedly well built and made from very strong PVC, it still inherently involves seaming for air hold, and no PVC seam is ever immune to extremely high and fast increases in pressure. Gradual water filling will keep things gentle enough for proper function, even once full water pressure is eventually reached for maximum water height.View price on Amazon
- Durable PVC materiality
- Combination experience with sprinkler and splash pad/pool
- Generous width and water height for enjoyment of little and older kids alike
- Necessary to fill with water gradually at the outset so sudden, strong increase of water pressure doesn’t burst edge seam
Just in case you’re still interested in small run-around sprinklers but you can’t help wondering what other kinds there are with movement involved, here’s a design from Joyin that falls more into the “wacky” category (which you might remember if you were a kid in the 1990s). This adorable little tool is made from durable but non-toxic plastic and rubber tubing and provides an all-around, exciting sprinkler experience. As you increase the water pressure, the reach of the sprinkler streams increase and so does the speed with which the movement of the water makes the tubes move around! This creates a fun and unpredictable spraying experience because there’s no telling which direction the water will come at you from next.
As with many mail ordered products, it’s worth it to do a short test run on your sprinkler before you get the kids all dressed and excited. Some units have been known to arrive with packing blockages in the little tubes, stopping the water from flowing through and making them move. These can be carefully cleared out, but it does take a trial run to see whether it has happened and in which ones on your particular model.View price on Amazon
- Fun, unpredictable run-through sprinkler experience
- Adjustable speed and movement based on your own adjustment of water pressure
- Durable materiality for an affordable price
- Some units arrive with packing blockages in tubes that stop water and movement, so a test run might be necessary
Have you actually been considering a sprinkler for more reasons than just showing your kids a fun time, since you’re also a yard care and gardening enthusiast? Then we think you’ll adore this simple, small, spinning sprinkler design from Kadaon. This 360 degree rotating garden sprinkler is capable of up to 3000 square feet of water coverage, depending on the level of water pressure you give it. The height and spinning speed of the spray are dependent on water pressure, which means you’re in total control. The sprinkler is easily stood where you want it thanks to a driving spike that won’t hurt your lawn, and is easy to move. On top of the benefit it’ll have on your grass and plants, the spinning action and wide reach also make it a blast for kids to run through.
Although this sprinkler’s function is extremely well reviewed, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re equally in control in terms of how well anchored you install it into your ground versus how much water pressure and speed you give it. If you want to be able to run it at full reach and rotation for the widest coverage, make sure you anchor the stake into the ground very well indeed, or its movement will pull it clear out of the grass if you very suddenly turn the water on full blast.View price on Amazon
- 3000 square feet of water coverage
- Rotating action sends water 360 degrees around
- Simple to set up and based on driving of a lawn spike that won’t hurt your grass
- Speed and reach in your total control and based on water pressure from hose adjustment
- Sudden water pressure can pull sprinkler out of the ground of it’s not anchored extremely well
Just in case you’re still feeling enamoured with the downward arch sprinkler design but you’d like a simpler shape or alternative design to the dragon we showed you earlier, here’s a very cheerful alternative indeed. Splashin’kids sells a simple, affordable PVC rainbow arch that sprays water down onto runners from the rainbow’s underside. This strong PVC piece is inflatable on top of being fillable and it also features weighted water bags on either side (that’s what the rainbow’s “clouds” really are) that help it stay upright and in place while in use. The arch is a decent enough height that taller children can use it just as easily as little kids.
A few reviewers here and there experienced some initial confusion when it comes to setup. Be aware that, in order to keep the rainbow upright and working properly without folding, you do need to inflate the shape, fill the anchoring clouds, and use high water pressure that will reinforce the arching rainbow shape itself. Skipping any one of these steps will cause the rainbow to flop over so that no one can run underneath.View price on Amazon
- Weighted water bags on each side for stability
- Good arch height so taller kids can play as well
- Durable PVC materiality and reinforced inflatable design
- All three setup steps- inflation, bag filling, and use of high water pressure- must be completed to keep rainbow upright
Just in case you’re still in the market for combination style sprinkler and splash pad but you know your kids prefer everything to be pink and girly, here’s an awesome design by Princessea that will give you just that. This generously sized, very durable PVC splash pad has a width of 70″ and an adjustable stream height based on the water pressure you use, keeping things within your control. The inflatable edge features sprinkler holes that rain down onto the splash pad centre, creating a shallow splash pool that’s fun for older kids to stamp in and safe for babies to sit in. Setup is extremely easy since the pool is compatible with any average garden hose.
Like a few similar designs that came before, it’s worth increasing the initial water pressure for each use gradually when you turn the water on. Although the piece is will built and made from strong materials, any PVC piece that features even a well-made seam risks bursting if its suddenly hit very quickly with a maximum amount of water pressure. Increasing the water pressure slowly will give you good inflation and water height without splitting any seams.View price on Amazon
- Combination sprinkler, shallow pool, and splash pad experience
- Generous size with a 70″ width
- Adjustable water height that’s suitable for all different ages
- Requires slow and gradual increase of water pressure to avoid splitting seams
What kinds of sprinklers are there?
Especially in more recent years, sprinklers come in many different formats, and made of many different materials. You might see:
- Spinning sprinklers
- “Wacky” sprinklers with fast moving arms or pieces that change direction rapidly
- Arching sprinklers that slowly spray the water in an arc from side to side
- Overhead sprinklers that spray water downwards onto you from an arch or structure rather than upwards from the ground
- Inflatable sprinklers in fun shapes
- Pool sprinklers that are like a cross between an kiddie pool that holds water and sprinkler built into the pool’s sides
- Simple garden sprinklers that are usually smaller and designed for watering plants and grass but still make for some fun
- Splash pad or “slip-n-slide” sprinklers that spray onto a slightly (but safely) slippery pad or strip of plastic for sliding fun
As with most outdoor activities for kids, there’s definitely a safety element to sprinklers use. Although there’s much less drowning related risk to this form of water fun than there is with classic kiddie and swimming pools, there are still some concerns to be cognizant of and to talk about with your kids. The more you are all keeping an eye out for safety risks together, the safer you can keep each other. While using a sprinkler, keep in mind the risk of:
- Slipping (on wet grass, on “slip-n-slide” pieces or pool bottoms that have become to slick, etc)
- Stepping on something hard or sharp if people are using the sprinkler with bare feet
- Tripping on the hose while running or walking around the sprinkler area
- Stinging water pressure if your hose spigot is very high powered
- Water temperature if you’re hooking your hose to the sink tap for warmer water (use lukewarm water and never hot)