As Needed Schedules are inferior to Flex Schedules

I’m begging you guys to leave the Flex Schedules in the software. Deprecate it, don’t officially support it, make it intentionally difficult to find in the app, but please let us keep using it. You already developed it, no harm in letting us keep it!

On a side note, can somebody please clearly articulate why Flex Schedules are being abandoned? Are they not clearly superior to As Needed Schedules? Are As Needed Schedules not guaranteed to routinely violate best watering practices?

As Needed Schedules are fundamentally flawed because they’re based on watering every X days despite the fact that we live in a dynamic world where your grass may or may not need water every X days.

We used to account for the following data and only water when we calculated that the grass was dry:

  1. Real time weather data for our area.
  2. The “shadiness” of the grass area.
  3. The type of grass.
  4. Perhaps a few other parameters.

Interval based scheduling’s largest source of inaccuracy is that it doesn’t account for the fact that your watering frequency should be proportional to the temperature. Rachio’s bare minimum workaround for this issue is to update the interval every month, which at least ensures we’re watering more frequently in the summer than in the winter. Unfortunately, this is still sub-optimal because:

  1. It doesn’t account for unusually hot/cold weather during any given week/month, which is virtually guaranteed to happen and happen frequently.
  2. Weather doesn’t change in finite 30 day windows so neither should our interval.
  3. We have to hope Rachio’s predefined intervals are reasonable for our area, grass, shade conditions, etc.

Interval based scheduling’s second largest source of inaccuracy is that it doesn’t account for dynamic rainfall. Rachio’s inadequate workaround for this is the Climate Skip feature, which is particularly maddening because if implemented slightly differently it would be perfect.

The Climate Skip is essentially a re-purposed version of the intelligence from Flex Schedules. It accounts for evapotranspiration, precipitation, watering history, etc and if it determines your grass is “sufficiently wet” then it’ll skip a watering run.

The problem with Climate Skip is that it doesn’t shift or modify the interval window. This has several problems but consider just this one scenario:

  1. You’re scheduled to water every 10 days.
  2. It has rained just enough so that you don’t need water on Day 10.
  3. By Day 15 your grass needs water.
    Climate Skip paired with an interval based schedule means you get to choose between watering on Day 10 well before you need to or watering on Day 20 leaving your grass to dry out for a full 5 days.

…on top of that I’m guessing all of these decisions are made without considering the different sun/grass conditions of each zone.

Clearly the real solution is to simply rely on Climate Skip’s intelligence all the time and water only when needed…you know a Flex Schedule!

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Thanks for all of this feedback, great points and we do appreciate this passion and our community, and everything is noted.

I think this thread sums up most answers and our path forward. Hope this helps.

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@EdLaFave, this was a point of confusion for many users that tried Flex schedules and abandoned them. We understand some users prefer dynamic watering and others love routine.

Climate Skip logic is based on MAD; only in a group setting. Therefore your grass would never be dried out – it’ll have water in the tank and apply managed stress watering practices which helps build endurance and drought tolerance.

These factors are considered and taken into account.

Please understand that we are listening, aggregating feedback, and will continue to iterate the product to improve it. We’d appreciate if all feedback for WAN schedules could be added to this thread moving forward; it’s important we learn from each other’s feedback.

I suspect Flex Schedule’s dynamic nature was a point of confusion because the “scheduled” watering times for the upcoming 2 week period were presented as if they were “scheduled”. People tend to think of scheduled events as being fixed and therefore tend to be “upset” if they change.

Oddly enough if “Flex” was renamed to “As Needed” and the “Schedule” was presented more as a “Forecast” subject to change depending on actual weather conditions then I suspect people would fully expect the “Schedule”/“Forecast” to be dynamic.

Perhaps I’m missing a valuable detail but based on everything I know, an interval based schedule has two sub-optimal choices when it comes time to water. Skip the watering because the grass isn’t showing drought symptoms yet and risk drought damage because it’ll have to wait for the next interval to get water. Or don’t skip the watering and give the grass water even though it doesn’t need it now.

If you’re saying that the grass would never be dried out then the algorithm must opt to water even if the grass doesn’t need it at the moment. According to UF that violates best watering practices and does NOT promote deep root growth.

Thanks for the feedback.

If flex is working better for you please continue to use it.

We are working on a solution that will meet everyone’s needs.