3 months of living with Rachio


#1

I replaced our Hunter Pro-C with the Rachio v2 the first week of May so here we are about three months later and I thought I’d check in. There are seven zones of six Hunter I-20 rotors throughout the yard.

First of all…

Rahh-key-yo
Ratch-ee-yo
Ra-key-yo
Rocky-yo

…how the hell do you pronounce this thing?

We moved into this home June of last year so I don’t have a ton of history on the lawn’s prior performance. So far this summer feels cooler and more rainy than last year which had a lot of hot and dry spells. The yard seemed a bit ignored when we moved in so we spent time fertilizing, aerating, over-seeding, weed prevention, etc… just trying to give it some love and a chance to fight back.

I’d summarize 3 months of Rachio as, “It isn’t dead yet! Let’s keep going!” :grin:

The Hunter Pro-C’s schedule was, ignoring the rain sensor for now, to always run for 20 minutes per zone every morning so we had about 2-1/3 hours of watering every morning. I don’t have a run timer on our well pump (I’d like to add one) but for the sake of simplicity say it had to run 100% of the time the irrigation was going. That would be >16 hours of well pump run time per week just to water the yard. I planned to count the # of watering days with Rachio since I installed it, but it appears I cannot see that data on the web page (Or I’m blind to where it is.). Generally though I have seen it go weeks with no watering due to rain and/or allowed depletion not going down quickly, or daily watering of anywhere from 3-7 zones depending on the allowed depletion per zone. Without a doubt I’m putting less wear and tear on my well system which I like.

I installed the Rachio with daily flex and did change some of the entry-level values such as soil type, slope, and amount of sunlight. Otherwise I’ve left it alone and haven’t gotten back to do custom nozzles after cup testing or check on other things like root depth. For basically an out of the box setup I think it has done well. If life settles down enough to go back and tweak some more settings maybe it’ll dial in even further.

Below are some images and commentary from around the yard. We’re about 45 miles south of Boston, MA in USDA plant hardiness zone 6b. It’s crazy how lighting changes the color of the grass from photo to photo. I’ve been cutting the grass at 3.75" with the hope it will shade the ground a little more on hot days so it may look a bit shaggy.

Front yard. Overall pretty good, a few brown patches here and there though mostly surrounding the beds where pine trees are. Our septic system is underground nearly in the middle of the photo.

Also front yard, you can see the brown I’m getting around beds as well as some smaller brown patches towards the left side of the pic mixed in. Thoughts on improvement methods? Water coverage isn’t an issue in those spots from what I remember, but I can double check.

Looking back the other way.

Same browness issue near a different bed by pine trees.

More brownness around a bed as well as other areas I know are getting good water coverage.

Overhead shot of a not-so-great area.

Up by the road both sides of the rock wall have some challenged areas. That area gets great water coverage, not sure what I should be doing for it.

The other side of the driveway is also ours, but amusingly it is the neighbor’s irrigation heads that water it. Some more dead/thin areas up the slope by the tree in the very upper left corner of the shot. I may put some work into that slope area this fall.

Backyard is good overall, a few yellowed spots here and there I wish I could improve.

Looking closely you can see some yellow patches.

The area below is the one I’m most pleased with. Last year even during heat waves, the ground was soggy and muddy. To the point where I thought maybe a line was broken under ground as just stepping in the area would dampen the bottom of your shoes. Grass was also sparse and easily damaged when turning the mower anywhere in the area. The way the zones are laid out the poor area has a lot of overlap between multiple rotor heads on two different zones. Looking at the rotor coverage I think part of this area was getting ~400% as much water as areas without overlap. It would likely take entirely redoing the zones configuration to really fix it properly so I’ve kind of just lived with it and reduced rotor arcs a bit where possible. However, this year with Rachio watering much less the ground is no longer soggy and the over-seed from last year seemed to really root in nicely. It still isn’t quite perfect in person, but it is miles better than what it was before.

We’ll see how the rest of summer goes! :slight_smile:


#2

You should address the uneven distribution of watering on your property. Otherwise, in order to avoid seeing brown areas you will wind up over-watering other areas.

“Re-doing the irrigation” is not necessarily as much work as you would expect. Assuming that the pipe was already sized to accomodate the existing number of spray heads, to expand or upgrade without re-piping consider changing nozzles to a lower precipitation rate nozzle, which will reduce any pressure drop problems if you then add some heads where there is no overlap.

Add these heads using 1/2" flexible “funny pipe” and use a straight spade to “cut” a very narrow trench for these lines to the new location areas. The funny pipe only has to be placed about 6" deep. When completed, you will not even see the trench lines since there is no evacuation of dirt in creating the “cut” for the funny pipe. Other possible solutions is to replace the spray nozzle with a longer throw radius nozzle so that additional heads are not needed.


#3

You have done a fantastic job with your landscaping! Really like all the white pines. Kentucky bluegrass? No better place than New England in the summer. That is the darkest blue hydrangea i have ever seen. The first thing I would do is a simple system. When brown area show up, it’s usually where a rotor is not turning or out of adjustment. In spray areas, it is typically things like sunken heads, clogged nozzles, etc. If it is a coverage issue in your rotor zone, you can add an additional rotor or multi stream rotating nozzles on a spray head. In my own yard I had a dry spot. One of my rotors is out of adjustment.


#4

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I wonder if reducing the root depth just a little for now without going crazy would get me just a little more watering in zones showing some browning without over-watering. I’d certainly like to go through all 42 heads and make sure they’re in good shape, but that’s time and $ I’d like to defer to later this year. I’ve posted a couple issues earlier I have with them that I know need fixing. :unamused:

For example, is this evidence of the rotor having sunk too far into the ground? I have two or three around the yard that even when I was cutting to 3" the grass is blown outward around it.

Thank you, it blows my mind how dark they are!

Here’s a better shot of one of them.

A bonus shot of one of our honey bees from a new hive we started earlier this year (because yet another hobby was such a great idea :smiley: ) on a different type of hydrangea plant.


#5

If it’s of any value here’s how things are currently laid out, though I haven’t gone back to add the arcs or distance each rotor throws. The boxes don’t visualize the actual watering area each covers, they were more just to pull my eye to a zone.

The area I mention as being really soggy last year is right where it says “Zone 5” in the image. Z4/5 overlap heavily and there may be at most 25’, side to side in the picture, between the heads. Four of those green and purple dots all hit that corner. I was going to reduce their arcs quite a bit, but was then worried about super-watering the area of the smaller arc since it would pass back and forth over the smaller area more often. Maybe that’s where the lower precipitation rate nozzle you mention would be handy. Z7 is also a mess. So many heads in a small area and overlapping with about 1/3 of Z6’s area.


#6

Where abouts are you? I’m in RI


#7

Lakeville, MA


#8

It is possible you have some brown patch that has developed in that area next to the road.Have you checked or treated for grubs? The area does not look like a coverage issue. There is heat reflection from asphalt, so it could also need more water. I mention these as some possibilities to check.


#9

Some of your brown patches are in areas where tree roots may be competing with grass for water. Something to think about.


#10

The brown areas under the pine trees are because pines provide dense shade and also cause the soil to become acidic. It’s difficult to get grass to grow under them, but there are several plants that do well growing under them. If you want interesting leaves, hosta is a good choice. From your photo, it appears there is a variety of hosta planted there. Azaleas also do well.

The hydrangeas are gorgeous! They also love acidic soil, but the blue color comes from aluminum in the soil. Soils that naturally have aluminum and are slightly acid are perfect for purple or blue blooms. The color of hydrangeas can be changed slightly by the type of soil they are grown in and the amendments added to the soil.

Kudos to the gardener who planned your landscape. :clap: Great example of the right plant in the right place.


#11

Actually…

I’d like to know…"First of all…

Rahh-key-yo
Ratch-ee-yo
Ra-key-yo
Rocky-yo

…how the hell do you pronounce this thing?"

Rick


#12

“Rah-chee-oh” :wink:

:cheers:


#13

Sigh… not even one I guessed. I think I’ll just call it raw cheetos.


#14

@scorp508 I think this is the name I’ll adopt from here on out too.


#15

If overwatering is due to overlap pattern being more “overlap” than the others, look for alternative spray heads that will not overlap to that degree. Sometimes, a longer throw head can replace two highly overlapped heads, especially if you use Hunter MP1000’s that allow throws from about 12’ to 30’ in diameter.

Zone 5 looks like it gets more shade than the other zones. If that is true, adjust the “sun/shade” setting for this zone to reflect the amount of direct sun it is getting.

Very soggy zones are often a sign of an undergrown leak from where the riser connects to the pipe, especially if water is puddling heavily around a particular spray head.