"As Needed" vs. "Fixed - multiple runs/day"


It has been noted in these forums that for certain climates, such as here in Arizona, we set fixed schedules to run at multiple times a day, to prevent runoff from the incredibly hard soil. This is the point that confuses me the most with regards to Rachio non-fixed schedules since I know there is an attempt to take that into account.

I’m anxious to setup my new “As Needed” schedules, but get stuck when I try to translate a 2 or 3 times a day Fixed schedule to “As Needed”. Here’s what I currently have set:

So I have 3 start/end times for my grass zone, 2 for trees, 3 for shrubs, and 3 for ‘Garden & Pots’. I made an attempt to setup the nozzle and soil types for each of the 4 zones. For “As Needed”, do I need to now set up 4 schedules, one for each zone, or do I need to repeat the schedules per zone if I want to spread out the watering per day as I did above in ‘Fixed’ ???



I didn’t hear back, so I went on to explore a bit. I set-up “As Needed” schedules, and here’s what I get for an Arizona “As Needed” schedule:

The grass seems about right, and I love seeing the frequency adjustment for those hot summer months. However, the shrubs, trees & garden are quite a bit different than what my landscaper recommends:

Would you guys help guide me here ? I’ve read elsewhere here that I’m not going to see cycle soaking for emitters, but I don’t completely understand how to reconcile the landscaper’s recommendations to the new Rachio schedule. Should I increase my duration for the single Rachio tree or shrub schedule to 3 hours to match the 3x1h summer schedule that my landscaper recommends ? Or should I instead add additional schedules for the same zone so they water multiple times a day ? I have the same question for the shrubs, which are on emitters, and garden, which has soaker hoses.



Hi Dave, glad to hear you’re trying out the new As Needed schedules! They were not intended to water multiple times a day, however, this should be possible to create in multiple schedules as you suggested. You can setup the same schedules you had setup on fixed, but instead of setting the interval just set them to as needed. You will also want to reduce the durations to match 1/3 of the total you want for the day. Finally, if you’d like to fine tune the frequencies you can alter crop coefficient as explained in the article below:

Water as Needed Times | Max Duration Limitations

Thanks, that’s helpful! I’m still wondering if you have a particular recommendation between watering for multiple times in a day versus one long run ? It seems that you might because your software specifically excludes cycle soaking on zones with emitters.

Also, when I was setting up each new schedule last night, the watering time was much less than I expected. For example, I just went through the step-by-step for my Tree zone, and it ended up at 59 min every 12 days for clay, flat & lots of sun. That seems surprisingly low. I had a similar surprise for the shrubs. Do those initial duration suggestion come from some empirical data that you guys have ? If so, it suggests that my trees (and shrubs) are being vastly over-watered. Keep in mind that I don’t have complete confidence in my landscaper’s recommendations. They have a vested interest in my yard being overgrown. :wink:


@azdavidr, we recommend larger and infrequent waterings to promote deeper root zone depth. Watering for shorter durations on a frequent basis promotes shallow root zone depth as your lawn learns to become lazy and not search for water.

We max schedule recommendations at 59 minutes to protect users that have entered the wrong data by mistake (garage in, garage out); which happens more often then you’d like to know. The duration can be increased if you’d like to water longer.


Great. That capping at 59 minutes is great to know. I was wondering why both my shrubs and trees hit that same exact number.



There appears to be another cap. at 3 hours (on an ‘As Needed’ duration) even for a manual adjustment with the +/- buttons on the app. Is there any way to get past that ?



@azdavidr, good catch. 3 hours is the max on the mobile client (iOS and Android). We use to allow for up to 10 hours on the web app, but I just tested it and think I found a bug…so I’ll need to get back to you on a workaround :wink:

Water as Needed Times | Max Duration Limitations

Please let me know if you find there won’t be a short term fix. Without being able to set a duration for longer than 3 hours I can’t use ‘As Needed’. I need to be able to go up to 10 hours at least.



Hey I’m in the Phoenix area and I see that you have your soil marked as Clay. I thought I looked up on some site that in my area I have something similar to sandy loam. Just curious how you determined the soil to be clay?


Yeah, I struggled with that. There’s a Web Soil Survey mapping site (http://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/HomePage.htm) that sure enough reports my area as “Antho sandy loam”. I had trouble believing some of the watering durations would work on my yard with the settings of sandy loam. I have a moderate slope to my front yard, and I start to get runoff at about the 6 minute mark. Here are my durations/cycles with Sandy Loam vs. Clay

With ‘Moderate’ slope and 'Sandy Loam’
Cycle duration 12 min, cycle soak 2.5 hrs, Repeats 2 times, every 4 days

With ‘Moderate’ slope and 'Clay’
Cycle duration 4 min, cycle soak 30 mins, repeats 6 times, every 5 days

I ended up going with ‘Clay’ to get me under that 6 minute mark, but looking at it ‘Sandy Loam’ with ‘Steep’ is a better option?
Cycle duration 8 min, cycle soak 30 mins, repeats 3X, every 4 days

I switched over to ‘Sandy Loam’ and I’ll watch the runoff to see how bad it is at 8 minutes, but I do like theslightly shorter interval. Thanks for taking the time to post as this was really helpful.

Would you mind sharing what your existing schedule is for trees & shrubs ? I’m a bit stuck on that part and would love additional input from others in our area.



@azdavidr, can we please continue this conversation here?