At a loss, lawn not doing good

Hi all, been lurking around reading a bit and learning lots but I’m currently just at a loss what to do with my front yard. Live in southern Oregon with cool season grass. We moved in to the house 2.5 years ago and front was just bushes. We removed everything and put in new soil and sod and thats when I bought the Rachio (originally bought the Hydrawise). First season great as we watered for a new lawn.

Well the next season (last year) I gave Rachio Thrive a try and also tried out the daily flex schedule (that’s the main reason I bought the Rachio). Well didn’t go so well and a big part of the lawn died. End of summer I checked for grubs and found a ton of them and the grass rolled up like carpet. I put treatment down and replaced a big part of the grass with new sod.

Continue to this last spring with the grub issues I put treatment down as a preventive measure will regularly continue to do so. Also continuing to use Thrive and now trying Sunday fertilizer which I sent a soil sample to them as well which showed grade A in nutrients and balanced pH. But now that we are into summer parts of my lawn again are not doing so well. On flex daily schedule Rachio was watering roughly 3 times per week (we’ve had 100 degree temps for a while but once rachio went 6 days without watering for unknown reasons?) Sprinklers were running for just over 2 hours each zone (I have 2 zones for the front lawn) I am using Rainbird rotary nozzles.

I was using the mostly default settings for flex and I did input a precip rate of 0.6 in/hr per Rainbird. Grass RD of 5.91 inches and efficiency of 80%. Well I did the catch cup tests and inputted the results into an online caclualtor and actually found the precip rate was much higher of 0.91 in/hr in zone 1 and 1.28 in/hr in zone 2. Also zone 1 efficiency was 62% and zone 2 was 64%. I changed all those in the settings and Rachio decreased water time to about 1 hour 45 minutes each zone. I also found my roots really don’t go down to 6 inches when I pulled a section up, more like 3 inches. So when I changed that Rachio now waters for about 50 min each zone but waters every day (which I understand from the shallower root depth). Been going on about a week of this.

So Im at a loss what to do. Should I keep the current settings? Would over watering have caused my lawn to do this since the sprinklers were actually putting more water out then Rachio thought on the default settings and watering roughly 3 times per week? I used a moisture meter this week and it said the soil is wet down to about 6 inches. I get the theory of watering infrequently for longer time for better root and grass hardiness but I just can’t seem to get my lawn to that stage. Neighbors water everyday and sometimes additional watering even during the day when it’s really hot and their lawns look much better. My backyard has one zone spray heads and another zone rotor heads and it’s even doing better than my front (aside from dog damage) and it’s also set on flex daily. So I thought should I change Sprinklers heads to rotors? I figure though as long as the precip rate is calculated the amount of water will be put down regardless of type of Sprinklers head used. Local water commission is recommending right now 1.48 inches of water a week and to run multistream rotary nozzles for total of 222 minutes a week. Which I’ve been above that. Also the areas of dead grass are getting water coverage in fact some of the areas doing better are getting less water water then the dead areas based on the catch cup results.

Anyone having good results with using Rachio Thrive? Also anyone using Sunday as an additional supplement? Do the pics of the lawn look anything else it could be like fungus or anything? I understand that Thrive will naturally aerate the lawn too? Would thatch be an issue for a lawn 2 years old?

Sorry for long post wanted to give as much info as I could to provide background. Attached are pics of lawn and screen shots of my current settings. My wife is giving me a hard time about buying a fancy Sprinkler controller lol. I totally get it can only only as good as the Information inputted. That’s why I’m trying to figure if my settings are ball park but something else needs to be done for the lawn. Thanks all.

Have you checked that you are actually getting adequate coverage in those areas? You may need to fix a sprinkler head.

Your roots are 3" because you’re only watering to 3" according to Rachio. You need to set it to 6" (assuming cool weather grass) if you want the roots to grow down. You aren’t providing it with any motivation to grow past 3". The top 3" needs to dry out to tell the roots go look for water deeper than where they currently are.

Also, where are you located? I’m in Northern CA and it’s been 110+ for over a week now. No lawns look good in this area at the moment. The heat is roasting all our TTTF and KBG.

Yes I definitely wanted to make sure it wasn’t something as simple as a Sprinkler head not covering. This has been progressively getting worse over the last couple months. I figured it would have been a coverage issue too how it’s looking but doing the catch cup test that area is getting more than some other parts of the lawn that are doing better. And visually can see at least 3 Sprinkler heads covering it (it’s a small lawn).

I had it set for 6 inches root depth for the past 2 seasons and figured by now the roots would have grown to that point? So only in the last week did I change it 3 inches. But I did change it back to 6 inches now and will just see how it does with the new precip rate inputted.

So I guess that’s my point. My roots have not grown deeper even though I’ve been watering it deeper. My neighbors are watering every day sometimes twice a day and their yards are doing better. So trying the theory of infrequent deep watering hasn’t helped…when should grass roots grow deeper?

Yes cool.season grass. I am in Medford and yes been really hot consistently early on this year which I understand doesn’t help.

So also trying to decide if I’m sold on using the rachio thrive products…

Do you fertilize? If so, when and how often?

With the heat right now, I would focus more on watering the lawn and keeping it alive, and worry about the root depth once the weather starts cooling down in a couple months. I am in SE Washington, and my flex daily schedule is watering almost every day for my Kentucky Bluegrass. I don’t plan to change anything until after Labor Day.

Hmm. Since you say that it seems to be getting more water than other parts of the lawn that are doing better, I wonder if it is getting overwatered and possibly suffering from root rot?

What kind of nozzles do you have? I see that you have two different PR’s (inches per hour) shown on the two zones. Do you actually have different nozzles? If you can confirm the manufacturer and model number, we can try to dial your PR in a little better using the spec sheets…

But I do agree, there is something else going on since there is such patchiness.

I’ve been using Rachio thrive for 2 seasons now. In addition this year I’m trying out the Sunday lawn care fertilizer you spray on. You send in a soil sample and they build your fertilizer based on your lawn needs, location etc. But it had me put some on back in April again in June and then again in August then will mail me something for October to be ready for winter. With each one being slightly different fertilizer. We have kids and pets so my wife is always concerned using fertilizers and Sunday night supposed to be safer than your common well known fertilizers. So not sure if its a gimmick or? Thought I’d try it out. Had issues last year and wasn’t using Sunday then.

First year though we didn’t use Thrive and I used the standard Scott’s fertilizer and watered well since it was a new lawn and did great. Every season since though not good. Could it be the Thrive that I started using since as well? Though back yard gets Thrive too…

Thats what I’m wondering too. I mean based on catch cup that area was definitely not the lowest area in terms of how much water was in the cups. I put a few in that area of dead grass and each cup had more some other areas but not the most.

I have the rainbird 22sa- RVAN mini rotor sprinklers which according to Rainbird is 0.6 in/hr which is what I have had the rachio set to for the past year. Well finally did the catch can test and plugged the results into the online calculator which showed the PR as 0.92 i /hr and 1.28 in/hr as shown in the two zone settings now. The higher PR zone does have one more sprinkler in it than the other so wonder if that’s what is adding to more PR vs the other? The lawn areas are small so the sprinklers almost cover completely to all the other sprinklers too. So with that new setting Rachio decreased the time of running by about 20 min per zone.

I don’t know anything about those products, but fertilizing your lawn in the dead of summer probably isn’t the best idea. You want your roots to grow down to survive the heat, not spend it’s nutrients and energy growing upward. Spring and fall, especially fall, is when you want to nitrogen the crap out of your lawn to get the most growth to survive the winter.

I’m not sure where you live, but honestly, check out It’s an incredible resource for taking care of your lawn. This thread specifically is awesome if you have cool-season grass:
Cool Season Lawn Guide - The Lawn Forum

Boy, I’ve seen real world differ from specs, but not double…would I be correct in assuming that the zone with the 1.28 is the one to the right of your front door?

Thanks ill check it out. I do have cool season and live in southern Oregon.

Yeah I was surprised by it as well. The 1.28 is zone 2 which is the one with the big dead area of grass and to the right of my front door yes as you’re looking at the door. There are 6 sprinkler heads in that zone. I’ve even had the city water commission come out and check my system since they offered a full rebate on smart controllers and doing so got my Rachio for free for doing so. He said I had good coverage on that zone. I’ve thought about switching to the Hunter rotators vs the rainbird as he said the Hunter spin slower and done “trail” the water sprays like the rainbirds do spinning faster. Not sure if this would help current situation though. I’m attaching screen shots of my catch cup results. Sorry not easy to write clearly on my phone lol.

I use Thrive, and my yard is looking better than it has in a long term. Mostly zoysia and some centipede. I moved to milorganlite about 4 or 5 years ago from Scott’s, and now Thrive. This is 2nd year with Thrive.

I am pretty happy with results, but it takes time to get soil healthy so I suggest a full 2 year commitment before drawing conclusions.

You’ve had grub issues in the past, certain they’re gone? The spottiness of it seems like bugs vs overwatering or heat. Might wanna check for spider mites.

Do you ever dethatch and/or aerate in spring?

Thanks I was hoping to get feedback from someone else who uses Thrive. I’ll continue with it this year and that will be a full 2 years.

So do you not do any additional fertilizer with Thrive on your lawn now?

Well I’m using a preventative granule applied as directed regularly to help with grubs…it’s not pulling up like carpet as it did last year so I think they are controlled? Not sure 100%? I’ll look into spider mites how do you kill them off?

I do aerate and also Thrive is supposed to naturally aerate as well. Haven’t dethatched…wasn’t sure if. Alan only 2 years old needed it? But something definitely will look into.