Advice for "tuning" a new controller/program

So I just installed my new Rachio controller and set up my zones and a flex daily schedule, but I’d like some tips on what I may need to do to “tune” the system to it’s optimal water-saving potential while keeping the lawn looking green.

So far, I’ve set up my zones with the type of irrigation head, my best-guess of soil type, amount of slope, and sun exposure. I also set up a single “Flex Daily” schedule to include all my zones, and allowed wind and freeze skips. I see there are lots of settings in the app to fine-tune each zone, but I’m curious what others have found to be the best approach.

For reference, my yard is 5 zones. It’s a “developed” lot with lots of fill in the front half to create a walk-out to the back yard. The 2 front yard zones are basically flat, but tend to dry out quickly. I assume that’s because the developer didn’t put enough top soil in the finished grade. The sides are moderately sloped, face west, and also dry out pretty quickly. The back yard seems to be decent soil (loam), is flat, and tends to stay cooler and more moist. All areas get full sun, more or less.

Does anyone know if there are there any resources on the Rachio site that explain the options in the advanced zone settings and best practices for tweaking them?

FWIW, I’m planning to get a set of catch cups to measure my precip rate for each zone, and calculate efficiency. Also planning to borrow the soil sampling tool we have at work and do the “jar test” to get more data on my sand-silt-clay ratio. Probably also get root depth measurements at the same time.

This little bit of knowledge regarding Advanced Settings helped me when my system was new. Once you get the other zone settings correct, the two primary settings you MAY need adjust to get the system dialed in are root depth and crop coefficient.

Root Depth determines the duration of watering.

Crop coefficient determines the frequency of watering.

Hopefully someone else will chime in with a more comprehensive answer.

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Thanks for the tip.

I did also find the information on the Rachio website regarding the advanced settings. For some reason, they’re all listed under the “App->Schedules & Zones->Zones” category instead of the higher-level “Schedules & Zones” category.

So my soil sampling is complete. Basically i took a number af samples from each zone (5 total) and placed them in separate ziploc bags. Each bag had WAY more soil than necessary but a wanted to get a good “average” across each zone. I did my best to break up any chunks and remove any grass or roots before putting about 250 grams of each sample into a canning jar. Each jar got a vertical strip of masking tape and was labeled with the zone number. The 5 jars were then filled with water, sealed, shaken vigorously for a short while and then left overnight.

The next day I followed the instructions on the rachio site. Shake the jar then set it down. After 1 minute mark the level of the settled contents (sand). Then wait two hours and make a mark for the depth of the second layer (silt).

At the two hour mark I had two clearly visible layers in addition to the sand. The middle layer was a darker brown (silt?) and the thicker of the the two. The top layer (clay?) was a lighter tan-brown and thinner. Just to be safe I marked both and took some pictures.

Over the next couple of days, the water did begin to clear up, but instead of getting deeper in the jar, the level of the sediment went down. I’m assuming that this was due to compaction of the silt and clay layers. Both layers appeared to get thinner as each day passes. The sand layer remained basically unchanged for the duration.

So, I decided to discard the measurements from the 2 hour mark and run the numbers based on the levels at the end of the test. It was still quite easy to see the line between the brown and tan layers which I’ve assumed are silt and clay. Based on the soil-type triangle, all of my zones fall into the loam category, although some are right on the border of “sandy.”

The next step is to test the performance of my irrigation system. I bought a set of catch cups from home depot’s web site and will get that test completed once I de-winterize the system. My plan is to measure efficiency and precipitation rate for each zone.