Confused by advanced water settings

I want to be able to tweak my zone settings and I really don’t understand how to use the different settings. I just received 2.7" of rain over the past day and my yard is like a giant sponge. If I was running my own sprinklers, I’d give it at least two weeks before I turned on the sprinklers again.

Right now the advanced settings are:
Sq ft - 500
Avail Water - 0.15
Root depth - 6"
Allowed depletion - 50%
Efficiency - 80%
Crop Coefficient - 80%
Nozzle Inches per hr - 1.5"

The sq footage is roughly correct, as well as the root depth, it’s turf, and the nozzle inches per hour

The rest, even after reading the tutorial, is voodoo to me.

Can anybody explain in plain english what the other parameters mean?


Do not worry about available water. That is moisture in the soil based on daily evapotranspiration. A critical setting is your soil type because it will determine run times and times between watering. Put another way, its like dry out time to 50 percent soil moisture in the root zone. Fifty percent is the irrigation standard for soil moisture balance. Try not to get overwhelmed. There are lots of people on this community to help, as well as some great Rachio website information. Once you get a little experience you will catch on.

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@mattebury Read: Zone settings support

Lots of plain English explanation there. :sunglasses:

Obviously not since I’m asking the question

@Mattlebury - does this one help -> and this one for crop coefficient ->

The first support article mentioned is the one I’m talking about. It really does not explain every parameter clearly enough to be of use to me in setting up my system. While crop coefficient applies to the plantings. I’m more interested in adjusting soil saturation and my yard is quite soggy after nearly three inches of rain and I know from experience that it’ll be two, maybe three weeks before I need to water again

I’m a mostly happy Flex Daily user, but I do have issues when I get tons of rain – my ground stays wetter far longer than the schedule thinks it’s going to stay wet. I’m hoping this is something that will get addressed in the next version of the software. In the meantime, a day or two after I have a massive rain, I go in and set all my zones to “FILL” – it’s a PITA ( I like it when everything is totally automated for me), but it works.

At one point, the saturation level was set to 120% - when it was set there, the ground seemed to dry out faster than when it wanted to water again. Now it’s set at 110% and the ground doesn’t dry out fast enough. I would love it if we could set our own saturation level – it’s not quite at the sweetspot right now.

Is this only a parameter in flex schedule? I’m in an area where I’m only allowed to water on specific days of the week

Yes, only with flex schedules.

When you set up each zone, you will be asked to select your soil type, plant type, slope, sun exposure, sprinkler type, etc. The setup process is essential when you select each plant type. Rachio will automatically assign a crop coefficient, which is expressed as a percentage. Its used as an adjustment factor against the daily evapotranspiration value.

I have done that, but I think that my soil has more storage capacity than is assumed in the algorithm. Also, I’m down hill from the houses in the back so my backyard gets seepage coming down the slope from them and I don’t know how to account for this.

I have two zones in my backyard that have been a real challenge. They overlap by about 75%, are in the shade, and the area just does not drain. What has been working sorta ok is that I set my allowed depletion to 60% and then I changed my durations to 65% for the two zones. This next season I’m thinking of changing the allowed depletion to even more and shortening the durations even more.

The guys mowing the lawn still hate it because it’s always wet, but the grass does look absolutely fantastic!

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@mattebury - depending on how many days a week you can water I see that there are three options to setting up the Rachio.

  1. Go with a fixed schedule for the allowed days and turn on all the weather intelligence and season adjustment factors. I went with this as currently I can only water on two days of the week (I’m trying to get that changed for intelligent controllers).

  2. Go with a flex schedule, but only on the allowed days. If there are fewer than three days a week for allowed watering, the flex schedule may water every time it can so the allowed depletion won’t be exceeded before the next time it can water. I believe the watering each time will be variable, just enough to fill up the zone. However, this watering pattern may train the vegetation to have shallow roots as there would be frequent watering. (Which is not what one wants. One wants to train the vegetation to have deeper roots.)

  3. Go with a flex schedule and say the heck with the allowed watering days (I’m not advocating breaking the law, but just listing options) and let the schedule water on any day.

As Rachio computes water needs it follows the age old computing rule - GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out). In irrigation terms - incorrect zone settings will result in over or under watered zones.

If one wants to really dial in a Rachio and squeeze every last drop of irrigation water, then I’d recommend doing a catch cup test for the entire system. A catch cup test should result in accurate precipitation rates, irrigation efficiency and square feet for each zone.

Additionally, depending on the water pressure actually present at the nozzles, different nozzles and/or pressure regulation may also reduce the amount of water needed for irrigation. (Cue @robertokc)

Here is a link on how changing each setting actually impact the schedule ->

Let the community know if you have more questions and I’m sure folks with respond with comments. This is the best thing that I’ve seen about the Rachio product is the community that supports it - most of which are more irrigation savvy than I am.

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The article is much better written to understand what each of the advanced parameters does.

I’ve got mine set as #1, but what I really need is the ability to tell the system my current soil saturation level so it knows where to start computing the next weekday to water. Right now, I’d say I’m somewhere in the 110% - 120% range as the ground still oozes water like a sponge when I walk across it. I understand you can do this on the flex schedule, but since I’m restricted as to specific days, that option is not available on a fixed schedule.

@mattebury This is good information. If it was me, I would base my slope settings on the slope from the homes in back.

Folks have had good input for you. There is a lot of information to help educate yourself. You will learn more about your irrigation system, it’s efficiency or inefficiency, and scheduling than you ever knew before. You will have to fine tune the system and settings to find your sweet spot.

You are the teacher, the controller is your student.

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Soil is soil. If you have clay soil it can only hold so much water and you get runoff. The opposite extreme is a sandy soil, where the water percolates below the root zone. Its bad news to have a home on the downhill of drainage. That can cause tremendous damage to a home. I would investigate into getting a good drainage system to move the water away from your home. In extreme cases i had to recommend sump pumps. This is not a good situation to be in. The guys above gave you a lot of good information. Advanced Drainage Systems and NDS drainage have a lot of good educational information on drainage.

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I know that this is an old thread but

  1. Does the current Firmware have any serious improvements over your firmware back in Jan 18 ?

  2. Would installing the likes of a Rain Bird SMRT-Y avoid over-watering ?

Don’t hold me to it, but I’m pretty sure there is a whole new app since this thread, and multiple firmware updates. Not sure exactly what “improvements” you are looking for.

As for adding something to prevent overwatering…what schedule?

Thanks for the reply @tmcgahey

With people describing imperfect or unwanted results, You’d certainly expect that all issues that there were back in Jan 18 would be well and truely resolved at this stage.

I will be using Flex Daily. I’ve installed a Logia (Bresser) 5-in-1 Weather Station. I was worried that by selecting Any Say on the Flex Daily schedule, that it would try to water daily. However, as I can see now, if I get my settings correct, the system will skip the days when it “knows” that watering is not needed.

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Garbage in, garbage out. If using Flex daily, you need to feed Rachio with the correct information regarding your sprinkler/drip output, soil, etc. Rachio uses some great algorithms to calculate the yards needs. If you don’t have that set up correctly, you do stand to have over/under watering. I’ve had my flex daily dialed in for a number of years, and I don’t touch mine other than when I overseed my lawn…