As Needed (now Fixed Monthly) | Scheduling Tips & Feedback


I desperately need to be able to set run times up to 10 hours for our desert climate based on emitters. I can’t set a duration for longer than 3 hours with the current app. our web interface. Someone was looking into the I issue but I haven’t seen a response. When will that be addressed?



Awesome discussion. We appreciate everyone’s feedback. Moving forward, I’ll do my best to address scheduling concerns that are support related. The Product team will be following up to feature recommendations.

@cwiedmann, just curious, what was the hardest zone setting for you to figure out?

Are you referring to the water budget provided by the city/water utility?

Could you elaborate? We track the rainfall total in inches and apply against ET (also measured in inches) if you have Climate Skip enabled.

@padresfamily, I still believe the Rachio controller adds immense value in being able to predictively skip a watering schedule by leveraging weather data. No ‘dumb’ controllers offer this feature.

The old Water Budgeting feature, which adjusted watering duration on a weekly basis using real time ET, created confusion for many users as the adjustments did not align with perception of how the schedule should be trending.

Flex never adjusted your watering durations, nor would it water when the tank was empty unless you had changed MAD to 99%. Flex defaulted to 50% MAD, so it would effectively refill your water tank at half of a tank. Water durations did not change as the size of the water tank doesn’t change. Just like your car, you have X gallons of fule in your tank and how you drive determines how long the fuel will last you.

@johnesc, that’s not good. What can we do to help reduce the confusion? As Needed schedules will change intervals on a monthly basis per historical ET.

Curious what type of soil you have your zones setup with? Schedule duration depends on your zone attributes and bundling of zones on the schedule; perhaps your watering duration is the same, but your schedule duration is longer due to Smart Cycle?

@stonecliff, the same defaults are between Flex & As Needed. As @brad mentioned, the difference is that we let the user tweak their schedules by minutes, instead of digging into and researching zone attributes, or “expert mode”.

@aaronlhx82, interested to know what you think we could do to make the zone setup process easier? The benefit to As Needed schedules is that if you get these default incorrect, you can adjust the schedules by time (minutes) and not zone attributes.

@steve28, we do not currently blend schedules. Interesting idea for the product team to consider in the future.

@azdavidr, we haven’t forgotten about you. I’ll circle back with the web team to see why this functionally isn’t working on the web app.


@steve28 Schedules run fairly independently right now. Our thought behind new schedules was that they could be grouped by plant type and these would be able to cycle soak. I’ll make sure we capture this as an improvement. We are working on a new method of implementing schedules on the controller that will be more flexible, and capable of handling this kind of thing. It’s still a few months away.


@azdavidr Hi Dave! Can you give us some details on the zone that needs more than 3 hrs? Tree? Soil type?


Interesting point. Sounds like all of this angst could have been avoided had you simply added the capability to Flex schedules to adjust by minutes instead of having to modify the attributes (though you were already part way there with the ability to adjust the Flex cycles up and down). The only way to fix this mess is to replace As Needed with Flex, but maybe add some of the ease of use you are seeking to Flex adjustments. Until you go back to the Flex concept, you cannot fix the (1) stacked schedules problem, (2) the need to occasionally accelerate watering, (3) the need for a user to create separate schedules with zones based on identical evapotranspiration characteristics to enable deep watering, or (4) the underwatering that will necessarily occur when a schedule is skipped if the schedule is truly based on deep watering principles.


Sure @brad. If I’m wrong, please tell me ! According to my soil survey map you have a link to on your website (, I have Antho soil loam. I’m getting the watering info. from the plant watering guide here, which is specifically for the Arizona Desert:

I have various sized shrubs, but use a 3’ canopy here to find a happy medium. The table below suggests 8 gallons of water required to wet the root zone for 3’ canopy shrubs.

For trees I’m using 4.5ft, even though I have some ficus trees that must be pushing 20ft canopies, I also have some rather young trees on the same zone. Assuming the 6ft, 26 gallons are required.

My simple math to get a duration is as follows:

Plugging through their online calculator (step 3 here I get the same following result:

I love the way the ‘As Needed’ schedules throttle the intervals. The shrubs “As Needed” schedule is repeating every 9 days this month, moving to every 6 days in July. That’s right where I want to be in the chart above. Likewise, the trees go from every 10 days in April, to every 7 days in July. Again, right where I want to be according to the chart above. However, please do tell me if I’m missing something on the long run times!!!


Water as Needed Times | Max Duration Limitations
Super long watering time for shrubs in Phoenix

@emil - I think I’d still use the present tense to describe my difficulty with the zone parameters. I’m actually uncertain about all the parameters, but the ones I worry about most are the crop type and precipitation rate. Our backyard has tree roots under the lawn and one of the zones waters both the lawn and the plants around it. I’m not really sure how to deal with either of those.

The front lawn has regular sprinklers, but they seem to be spaced about 6 feet apart with a 10 foot radius, so I’m thinking the precipitation rate is probably higher than would be expected. There are runoff issues in the front yard that lead me to believe that there must be more water being delivered than expected, because even at 4 minutes there is significant runoff.

Bottom line is that it looks like I’ll have to do some work to correctly configure the zones. I’ve ordered catch cups as a first step, but I suspect issues like the mixed zones may require some redesign to solve.

On the water budget, it’s the utility’s water budget that they’ve assigned us due to the drought. We’re allowed to use 13 CCF a month, but when we moved in the sprinklers were on a schedule that was using about 50-60 CCF per month. Since I have no contact information for the landscaper who originally did the system, I don’t have any way of knowing why they were using so much water and what the settings were before they put the house on the market. Given the way the zones were designed it’s not clear to me that whoever designed the system knew what they were doing anyway.

I’m sttarting from zero knowledge on sprinkler system design and trying to set up the parameters correctly is daunting, so I understand why you would want to allow configuration by minutes instead of by zone parameters, but some of the other features of the flex schedules such as the individual zone skipping make the flex schedules easier to deal with than the new schedules. I’m at a loss how I should optimally split up my 10 zones into separate schedules to optimize the watering because I don’t have the background to know which zones are similar enough to group together.



This addresses my curiosity. I’m assuming flex doesn’t currently do climate skip? Also, are you getting this information only if we use a weather station reporting precipitation?


It does, this was the basis of flex, now it is called climate skip in the new schedule.


Walked out of the house to 1”+ of water ponding on my front flower/bush zone this morning — and the sprinklers were still going!!

My schedules were all still set to As Needed, I hadn’t disabled them and switched back to Flex yet.

Before I went to bed last night, I reviewed the Watering Schedule, as well as the Moisture Level of each zone.

Next scheduled watering times were Sunday 24th (grass zones) and Monday 25th (front bush/flower bed zone).

The front bed zone Moisture Level was at 72%.

At 4:00 AM this morning, the Iro decided that the 72% Moisture Level of the front bed zone wouldn’t make it until the next As Needed scheduled watering day (Monday). So it decided to overfill that zone today, starting at 5:00 AM, so that it would make it.

I stopped it at a little bit after 8:00 AM, when I walked out of the house to go to work and saw the zone was underneath water in many areas (and water spilling out of the zone over the sidewalks in most areas). At that point, the As Needed schedule had overfilled the the zone up to 120% Moisture Level and still had more than an hour to go (some of that was probably soak time, but still).

And there’s a 80% chance of rain tomorrow, with .35” inches predicted.

Ugh. Every 5 days seems to be the cadence that As Needed waters in my area, this time of the year. Very frustrating to see my mulch floating (and water spilling out of this zone) because this zone had to be overwatered in order to stay on that As Needed cadence.


In my opinion, the “As needed” schedule creates many more problems than it solves. Set up a separate schedule for each zone? How is that convenient? It seems the only issue with the Flex schedule is that it frequently creates inappropriately long or short watering times for zones where the zone specifications (soil type, hourly watering rate, etc.) are not correctly set up. Adjusting these specifications is a bit complicated. Yet, instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, isn’t the only thing that is really needed in Flex an easy way to adjust the watering times for each zone? Flex would be close to perfect if the zone watering times could be adjusted. “As needed” has just way too many problems as mentioned in the other posts.


To the ppl disappointed with wan schedule, try to keep 1 thing in mind, and this is not making excuses.

Flex by every definition is a scientific model and like all models, is based on variables. Like most models, if any variable’s value is not within particle limits causes the model to collapse and yield wildly inaccurate results.

So the answer is not at straight forward as allowing a user to adjust the run time of a zone in flex as you can no longer properly predict when to apply water.

I’m hoping the fallout of this thread is the realization that the concept of water as needed is an expert feature that can’t be idiot friendly.

My personal recommendation for lowering the barrier of entry to flex is to pay $5, enter your zip + 4 which will provide the soil type from a few of the dbs out there, allow the use to enter their current runtime and square footage. The. You could work backwards to pr algorithmicaly.

I have even seen a few sites that let you draw on a sat image to get square footage.

I persoanally don’t think ppl would mine to pay a small fee for expert mode setup help


Nice comment @plainsane, just to add my $0.02 the $5 should only be for folks that want support with flex features. Not for the flex features themselves. If I want to play with my own variables on my own time, there shouldn’t be any restrictions on what I can do. I personally enjoy learning about the different factors and how they affect the outcome.

Not sure which site you were mentioning that allows you to discover sq footage by drawing on a map, but I use this one, in case anyone wants to play around.

Map Developers


Am I correct to understand that once the as-needed schedules are created, that subsequent edits to the zone parameters will NOT adjust the watering durations in that schedule? Basically I have to re-create the schedule if I adjust the zone parameters?


that is what i meant.


@padresfamily That’s my experience, not sure if that’s how it’s supposed to work. I thought I read that adjusting the crop coefficient would alter As Needed run times but I didn’t observe any changes when I tried.

As a follow on, does Crop Coefficient currently impact Flex run times? This was not configurable prior to 2.5 and I don’t see any changes to my flex schedules when altering the CC.

Flex versus As Needed

Please consider this request: The as-needed schedules need the ability to add waterings if the actual ET is higher than the 30-year averages predicted.

Currently I believe ‘as-needed’ sets the schedule based on its ‘guess’ about what the month’s ET will be, then only skips a watering if ET is lower (or precipitation occurs).
Here in Southern California rain is very infrequent, but random heat streaks (and corresponding higher ET) are common at all times of the year. If the schedule for april guessed that watering every 5 days is sufficient, but we have a heat streak that requires more water, the schedule should be able to add a watering to address this situation.

Please confirm if either this already will happen with the current (2.5) programming, or if this feature will be added.



@azdavidr: I don’t think you’re wrong :wink: This info is great and exactly what I was hoping for! Let me get with @emil and make sure everything looks correct. We’re going to revisit those limits for you (and others) ASAP.


@brad: Good to hear! I’ll look forward to hearing back on your update. Thanks for staying on this!



What should I do if no weather station, from what I can tell (35756), is reporting precipitation? Get a sensor?