Advanced zone configuration advise

Using a Gen 3 w/flow meter, flex daily schedule, other factors following my question.

I’ve observed I have one zone that is receiving slightly more water than it needs. Overall, all zones are being irrigated slightly more often than is necessary. What setting(s) would be appropriate to change so that overall watering is cut back and the one zone cut back slightly more?

Located in Lincoln, NE, our entire lawn is on heavy clay. Fescue turf. Home was built in 2016 so there’s little shade yet except that provided by the house. Primarily flat, two zones have a slight slope. I’m using Smart Cycle and Weather Intelligence.

With the one specific zone getting a bit over watered, I have changed the zone from full sun to partial shade, that helped a bit.

My other observation is that whether the lawn is irrigated or we receive rain, the zone moisture for all zones shown on the Rachio App drops faster than what I can see and feel even in hot weather. My workaround has been to manually skip a scheduled run for a day to three days until the actual moisture drops.

Any thoughts greatly appreciated.

On a fresh install, the flex daily is not recommended until about 2 weeks of settling so that your saturation can actually build up properly. In the event that you have a “Seasoned” unit, then I will tell you one of the other tricks I use for clay.

I assume that you did use the clay setting on your program. I would then go into the Head type and make sure it is correct. From there, set up the zone from scratch and tell it that the precipitation rate is actually more than you are using…Or

Go into the duration mode and take off 1 minute at a time (per watering cycle), and then check after the next watering cycle has occurred.

When all else fails, try the aforementioned settings with the addition of treating your soil through aeration and gypsum to help loosen up the clay over time. Here is a link that can provide you some useful information about alternatives to loosening the soil.

In the long run, you will eventually set your Rachio back to the normal settings and it will work better for you…

The easiest flex daily lever is “crop coefficient”, or how fast your zone burns off water. Adjust that 5-10% down and the watering frequency will decrease. You can immediately see this by changing that value and looking at your soil moisture graph for the next two weeks.

As @spscoutenPhD mentioned, you might want to start with one or two flex daily zones to get the system dialed in, they apply to the other zones once you are comfortable with the behavior.

A little bit more information.


Yes, unit is seasoned and all zones are set for clay. Additionally, the head types are correct in my zone settings. I’ve also changed the nozzles in several of our rotary heads to get a matched precipitation rate, the installer had never heard that term and “always use 2.5 gpm with no problems.” Well we had real soggy areas and dry areas his way. Sorry, I digress.

Re the gypsum, etc., I started doing that after the first mowing of the sod. Seems our whole county is nothing but clay, I imagine that like our last house, several tons of gypsum will go down in the next few years!

One more question, I have also entered the number of square feet per zone. It’s not precise but on the bigger zones not off by more than a few percent. Do you think I should just leave those default and let the flow meter and everything else determine the duration and amount of water needed?

Thanks, I have a leaning that this is the way I’ll go. Just couldn’t get through my head whether to go up or down with the amount.

This only affects estimated gallon usage (if you don’t have a flow meter).


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