Another Arizona Set-up help thread!

Anyone in the Gilbert area willing to help me out with some set-up? I installed my Rachio on my side year (independent of the main clock) to get a feel for the system and get everything set-up correctly before deploying to my main yard. I thought I had the drip side of it humming along pretty good until it got hot, for so long, with no measurable rain until this last week.

I had looked through a couple Arizona specific threads and got some really good information, some I understand, other information I don’t.

For one, I used the map that has been recommended time and time again to find my soil type, and it came back with clay loam. Most Arizona people are saying more sandy loam. Is this just in an attempt to fool Rachio a bit?

Also my side yard I am experimenting in is set up very similar to my main yard, just on a much smaller scale. I have a bush/shrub zone, a tree zone, and grass zones. Right now I have my drip zones set up like this:

Advance settings are as follows:
Area - 2 sq ft (Don’t fully understand what this should be, but the default 500 sq ft didn’t seem right)
Available Water - .12" (default setting)
Root Depth - 24" (think I changed this from reading I have done)
Allowed Depreciation - 50% (Default)
Efficiency - 70% (lowered it down from the 90% since the emitters aren’t ideally placed)
Crop Coefficient - 70% (pretty sure I read this somewhere)

Area - 9 sq ft (again, not really sure what this is or how to correctly calculate)
Available Water - .12" (default)
Root Depth - 24"
Allowed Depreciation - 50%
Efficiency - 70%
Crop Coefficient - 85% (think I changed this to get the run time to adjust to something more favorable)

I have my custom 2pgh emitters set up with a .40 in/hour PR.

My shrub zones have 2gph emitters, and depending on the size of the bush or shrub, smaller ones have 1, larger bushes can have 2. Trees also have 2gph emitters, but smaller trees have at least 3, larger trees might have as many as 5. Sadly, when multiple emitters are present, they are clustered near the trunk or base of the bush. I think I’m having some issues setting up the drip zones to water correctly based on the variance of emitters. Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

That will be a good start. I’ll chew through one thing at a time. I won’t get into the addition of citrus trees that we run on the same loop as the trees. Thankfully I have flood irrigation that can cover most of that…

I will add that with the current set-up the scheduled run time for the shrubs is 4 hours, and trees come on for 4 hours 24 minutes. Following this post here from Mr. @azdavidr , I feel like that might not be far off?

@tmcgahey Welcome to the forums! It seems we’re getting quite a few from Arizona, which is great. On the soil, most of the Phoenix area is Sandy Loam, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t other soil types around. If you are Ok with sending me a private message with your address I can confirm it for you.

The area for each zone with regards to drip is confusing, and is only used to estimate water usage, so I would leave it alone right now. Just know that your water usage estimate for drip zones will be off. Your AW of 0.12 is default for Sandy Loam, but you said you are using clay loam, so I’m a bit confused as to why you don’t have 0.2 listed there. For the drip, can you describe how many emitters you have for each tree and plant, and what the flow rate is on them ? The precipitation rate defined for the nozzles is in in/hr, and it can be confusing to find the right setting by only knowing GPH. Here’s the link showing step-by-step what I did.

Set your efficiency to 100% for those emitter zones if you use the method I’m suggesting in the link. When you’re done compare your watering schedule and run times to how you were watering before, and share it here.

On the crop coefficient for trees and shrubs I’d leave that at default right now, unless you have desert adapted trees or something pretty lush. By the way, the effect frequency of watering, not run time.

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Sorry, I had it set to clay loam based on the map link that floats around the boards, but switched it this week to sandly loam based on what I have been reading (much of it from you).

Like I said, all emitters on my property are 2gph (I believe them to all be the pressure compensating kind if that matters). Small shrubs will have 1 emitter, larger shrubs can have 2. Trees will have at least 3 (smaller trees or desert based trees), with some of the larger trees containing 5. Like I said, placement isn’t ideal since more are near the trunks or bases of bushes. Shrubs and trees are on independent zones. Based on the 2gph, I have the PR set to .40 in/hour.

I’m working in my “test bed” if you will (in the red). Once I dial it in, I will deploy my second Rachio to the rest of the yard…

My apologies, I missed this part in your original posting. You certainly seem to have the right approach of having more emitters for larger shrubs, and single ones for the smaller guys. On those my suggestion would be to run through the approach that I sent you twice, each time taking into account the canopy size, and appropriate flow rate. For example, if you had a 2 ft. diameter shrub with 1 emitter, run that through with 2GPH and the 2ft diameter. Record the recommended duration from ‘Water It Wisely’. Next if you had some 6 ft. diameter shrubs with two 2 GPH shrubs, run through the exercise with 4 GPH and the 6ft diameter. Record the recommended watering duration from ‘Water It Wisely’, and compare it to the recommendation for the smaller shrub. The conservative option would be to target the longer of the two times when you manually adjust the nozzle PR for that zone, but you can use your judgement on using an average. The risk would be that you might underwater some of the plants. Again, I’d love to see your results.

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I have 2GPH emitters and I’m curious what is the ground like after a 2 hour soak? When I first got the Rachio this spring I ran for 2 hours and I had significant runoff here with my sandy loam soil in North phoenix

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If you feel like you went through the link right stick with what it’s telling you. Then, look at the schedules and see if the frequency makes sense relative to what you’ve had in the past. You might post a screenshot of the soil readout here. Look for the ‘Available Water’ in the website. It’s great to see that you’ve done your homework.

Nice looking property by the way !

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I haven’t had a cycle run yet with the changes I have made. I’m still drying out from the storm the other afternoon. What I had before was only netting me about an hour run time and things weren’t looking good.

How often did that run?

@Modawg2k, do you still have that reverse Eeyore-Storm-Cloud kinda thing going over there?

Not nearly enough! I think it would run about once a week. It was fine when I first got it set up and the weather was cooler. Once it got hot, it wasn’t even close to enough. Changing soil type, and fixing a bad calculation on the 2gph emitters (pulled from the boards here) bumped it way up and trees are set to run on the 10th, shrubs on the 15th.

HA, no, we got DUMPED on Tuesday night. My front yard is set up for flood irrigation, so they are kinda like retention basins…

Lower portion is about 8", upper is about 16" tall just for reference…

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haha… actually we got rain for the past few days, rained pretty hard for a little bit yesterday, but definitely no floods developing outside

So I set my efficiency to 100% and set the crop coefficient to default and it brought the trees down to 3h 45m, shrubs 3h 36m. Again, still assuming sandy loam, 2gph emitters (.40 in/hour).

How does it compare to the runtime recommendation resulting from the Watering Use It Wisely directions ?

One quick note, if your trees are established you might want to change the root depth to 36 inches, which is what water it wisely recommends

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Changing root depth to 36" (landscaping is at least 12 years old, so I’d say it’s established) pushed the next run time out a few more days to the 15th and is now set to run for 5h 24m.

Water use it wisely is calling for 4-4.5 for trees and shrubs depending on emitter count and guesstimating canopy size. That kind of tells me the guy who owned the house before me knew what he was doing since everything is set up pretty well for even watering regardless of plant size. I would certainly hope this was the case since he owned a landscape design and installation company.

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@tmcgahey That’s great. Since this is a new schedule I’d recommend keeping your eye on things for a while. As the days go by after your last watering pass, start to take quick daily strolls around the yard to see how things are doing. After a cycle or two you’ll know if you need any adjustments. I had one or two shrubs that were looking stressed a day before the next watering cycle, so I bumped up my crop coefficient to make it water one day sooner. Also check immediately after the watering cycle to see if you get excessive pooling or runoff anywhere. From the sounds of it you’ll probably be fine.


Even though it is true that my root depth on the trees is every bit of 36" after 12 + years of growth, it does put me over “Water Use it Wisely” recommendations. Should I switch it back to get it to align closer to the 4-4.5 hour range?

Also when I first set this up winter/spring of this year, I mentioned that things were looking good and healthy. At that time, Rachio was only watering for about 1h 45m every 7-10 days (granted, it wasn’t really set up correctly). I’m assuming that Flex schedules will scale back the 4 hour run time a bit in the winter months? That is the whole purpose of this, right?

The run time won’t change for flex daily, only the frequency. That’s also what water it wisely recommends. If the run time is too long you might want to increase the precipitation rate a little bit.