Confused - extremely long run time


#1

I am in Dallas Tx, with about 3000sq ft of bermuda lawn and lots of sun for most of it.

My previous device was a Hunter Pro-C that ran for about 1:15-1:30 daily total for all zones

There are 11 total zones:

  • 8 rotor/fixed head zones
  • 2 flower bed/tree surround zones (trees are actually tagged as flower in rachio)
  • 1 parkway drip line (drip under/in grass, between sidewalk/street)

I’m using a Rachio 2nd Gen, 16 station version.

When I create a Flex daily, Any days, End before sunrise, Smart Cycle, with Freeze and Wind skip, it tells me my optimal watering time is 5h 21m!!! 43m on a backyard rotor? 47m in my flower beds on bubblers? 57m on my front parkway drip? This seems pretty crazy… Thoughts?

I know I can reduce the total watering time at the top to be around my previous 1h15-1h30 or so, but I was hoping this would help me water even less (not the same and just control via wifi)… my grass & flowers are nice and green and blooming, so I can’t imagine I need 5h21m of watering.

Settings:

  • Warm season grass (Bermuda)
  • Spray Head (Mix of ‘rotor head’ and ‘fixed head’ around lawn, mostly fixed)
  • Soil Type Clay (Blackland - North Texas)
  • Exposure - mostly Lots of Sun (wide open most of lawn)
  • Slope - slight to flat depending

Advanced Settings:

  • Area inputted for each zone
  • Available Water 0.15
  • Root Depth 6in
  • Allowed Depletion 50%
  • Efficiency 70%
  • Crop Coefficient 65%
  • Nozzle in/hr 1in

#2

My drip on the trees run for 3h55m, bushes run for 3h30m, front grass runs for 1h50m per zone (MP Rotator nozzles). Run times might seem long based on what you were doing, but I promise you were watering wrong. I was there too…

For example, bermuda should have about 1" of water applied every 3-5 days for optimum health depending on soil type. Do you know the precipitation rate of your actual rotors? I’m assuming that you selected the out of the box nozzle in Rachio, but it is fairly general. You can optimize it based on your exact rotors in the advanced tab. Post up what kind of rotors you have and we can fine tune it.

As for drip, what type of emitters do you have (what is the GPH), and how many per plant?

It’s all about making sure you feed Rachio correct information about your specific yard. It is an INCREDIBLY smart controller, but the output is only as good as the information you feed it.


#3

Hey @DigitalCK

Thanks for reaching out. Flex daily schedules run differently than most users are used to- it will run for longer, but much less frequently. After reviewing your account, it looks like you are running about 1.5 hrs each day. With flex, you are looking at five hours, but only about once a week. So you are actually looking at some great water savings!

That being said, your lawn is accustomed to your current watering schedule, and the switch may cause a bit of a shock. There are a couple way to “dip your toe in the water” (pun intended).

  1. Start with just one zone on flex, and see how it does. Make sure it doesn’t get excessively stressed, and then start to move you other zones over.
  2. Shorten your root zone depths (in advanced settings) a bit, since your roots are probably relatively shallow. This will reduce the duration of your waterings, and water slightly more frequently. One issue with this solution: Eventually, you will want to “train” your roots out. So you would need to go to your zone setting later this season and make you root zone depth longer until they have reached the defaults.
  3. Lower your Allowed Depletion (in advanced settings) a bit. This will also reduce durations and make your system run a little more frequently. Same thing here- you will want to slowly train your system back out to that 50% mark for maximum savings.

I hope this helps! I understand flex can be a bit of a shock, but with a little work, it can realize some great results! One last note- before everything that I mentioned above, it is imperative that you make sure your zone settings are all correct. A fantastic guide for flex (created by @azdavidr) can be found here: Where to start on Flex Daily

McKynzee :rachio:


#4

Yes, I assumed it was my settings and not the device.

My daily like I said was just over an hour, but again daily. Wasn’t sure if this thing runs daily, how it knows how saturated, etc… and of course it has no watering history as it’s brand new…

Most of my nozzles are Hunter Pro Fixed 8, with some Pro Fixed 10. https://www.hunterindustries.com/irrigation-product/nozzles/pro-fixed-nozzles… Some are 180, some are 360, some are 90 degree. I have no idea what I’m doing on these, though for the rates. Do I sum up multiple? And do I use precip square or triangle? For example, if I have the Pro 8 brown 180 at 30psi, it shows .47 GPM, and 1.41/1.63 in/hr for square/triangle. If I have two of these covering the area in the same zone do I now have double, so .94 GPM and 2.82/3.26 in/hr? Or is it assumed they don’t overlap much?

My other rotators are I believe the MP800’s (like yours), but not sure which - but assume once I have understanding for the above on what to do, I can apply that to the MP800 as well…

My flower beds use these - https://www.lowes.com/pd/Mister-Landscaper-3-Pack-10-GPH-Adjustable-Spray-Drip-Irrigation-Multi-Stream-Dripper-Stake/1086995 - which are 0-10 GPH adjustable (and mostly on the upper end, but 2 per line, so possibly cut in half per unit), and there are about 20 of these in the flowerbed throughout along with three of these for overall coverage - https://www.lowes.com/pd/Mister-Landscaper-10-Pack-15-GPH-Full-circle-Spray-Drip-Irrigation-Micro-Spray/1103193 - which show to be 10-15 GPH each with some overlap on each of them.

Those smaller 0-10 adjustables are also what I’m using in my tree surrounds (live oak tree, 2 yrs old), which also have flowers in the surrounds - there are 8 of those spread around the tree surround to help ensure the flowers get plenty, with 2 of the 8 on the tree trunk where the original tree dripper was.

Hope this helps explain my situation, and maybe can help direct what I need to know to change the right settings :slight_smile:


#5

So that 5 hours or so will be run just the first time, then it likely won’t run again for many days?


#6

Hunter Pro 8 FIXED (not adjustable, you can’t adjust the spray pattern, correct?)?

Unless you go do a catch cup test, you don’t have the EXACT precipitation rate, but you can use the Hunter specs to dial it in pretty close. Chances are your sprinklers are on full water pressure, and probably higher than 30psi, unless you have a pressure reducing devise, or pressure reducing sprinkler bodies, but we will assume 30psi since you mentioned that. I like to average out between square and triangle, so you are looking at 1.57"/hr. This is the figure you would want to enter into the advances section of each zone in the “Nozzle Inches Per Hour”. And yes, your grass zones will most likely not water for 3-5 days depending on local temps/weather.

If you have the newer MP800’s (different than the “standard” MP Rotators), they put down a lot more water than the standard ones, almost double. Confirm which ones you have, as I believe the MP800’s are really new.

Personally, I HATE adjustable emitters. You really have no idea what type of precipitation you are putting out, so you don’t really know what to tell Rachio…If you are intent on keeping them, we will need to do some testing to see what kind of water they are putting out. If you are willing to switch over to some fixed 2gph emitter, it will simplify things a ton…


https://www.homedepot.com/p/DIG-2-GPH-Pressure-Compensating-Dripper-10-Pack-B222B/100131162

The micro sprays are fixed, so those can easily be accounted for. Could all the flower beds be converted to those?


#7

@DigitalCK Welcome aboard.

My #1 flex daily recommendation, pick one zone to start with, get it dialed in, and then apply to other zones if you get good results. When you add a zone to flex daily you can then view the moisture graph for that zone which will actually simulate how it will water for the next two weeks.

Here is some flex daily docs to get you started if you’d like to dig deeper. I also noticed your warm season grass zones are set to 6 inch root zone depth. The default is 9 inch, which means it will water a little longer but way less frequently.

Hope this helps.

:cheers:


#8

Thanks for the info. I’ll do the front yard zone first because it has an easier run off if over-saturated… Then after I see it settle in, I’ll apply the rest.

As per my sprinklers, they are fixed not adjustable. I’ll use the values from Hunter before finalizing a setup plan so it will be more accurate. If it has multiple sprinklers, I’m assuming I don’t add them up as the design ideally has little overlap in sprinklers, so most of the area should be getting that “1.57” (or so) that’s estimated. I’ll average out the zones that have multiple (90degree + 180 degree for example).

I’ll also check my MP rotators - they’re about 1.5 yrs old, so I"ll pop up the heads and take a look to be sure. I only knew the others because I just had to swap 2 out that got busted somehow.

As for my adjustable bubbler/microsprinkler things I’d rather not do the drips - the wife really likes these and we just redid the entire flower bed this way this season. I do like the distribution a little further through the ~8" radius of sprinkle rather than just an emitter exit. I will try to make a reasonable assumption based on its capability, how many are on a line together, etc and figure out what makes sense to enter for this.

Who knows - I may redo some of the flower bed updates next year differently - but for this year, this is locked in.


#9

I was reading about bermuda grass in north texas and it seemed like 9 was too deep. I was reading 6 and 7, we’re very shallow soil with lots of thick clay below here. Additionally, this is new-ish grass, laid 18 months ago.


#10

@DigitalCK

Ok, thanks for being open to all this information, I know it’s a lot :wink:

If you want to know the “true” depth of your roots (like me) this is a somewhat affordable tool.

:cheers:


#11

I’m a techie and data guy so it’s alllllll good for me! I’m just not super-educated on all the lawn-related items. So learning a lot about soil and flow and such :slight_smile:

I may grab that “lawn corer” and some graduated catch cups for better measurement.


#12

#13

Nope, just take that number and plug into Rachio.

It happens, they don’t do well against a lawn mower…Chances are they are standard MP’s and have a precipitation rate of about .45"/hr. In my case, they put out a bit more in real life…


#14

Oh, oh. You’re in trouble now. You are about to go down the rabbit hole!!!

But it’s all good!


#15

I found my run times were almost twice as long as my prior controller. I did a bit of research and my old controller was running at an Allowed Depletion of 30%. The gen3 defaults to 50%. Since I’m a new install I set my gen3 to 30% also and run times and frequency are more like my old controller. Ii plan to gradually adjust Allowed Depletion back to the default of 50% over the next few weeks.


#16

I was pretty shocked when I set up the flex too. Turns out most zones only water once a week if the depletion hits. It just skips them but deep waters and soaks when it needs to. Initially I thought it would water to much so I dialed back the flow rates from the default. Then the lawn got a little dry. Seems messing with things made it worse so I reset the defaults. Better not to over think it.