Duration of water times

I set up my Rachio last night. I have 7 zones and chose monthly flex schedule. My problem is with the suggested run times.
Previously, my timer ran every morning for no more than 10 minutes in each zone. It worked great and my yard is healthy and happy.
I set up my Rachio for loamy clay soil with Cycle and Soak. Now, the SCHEDULED WATERING TIME IS 6½ HOURS!! This just can’t be right; what am I doing wrong?

First off, if you want to water “correctly”, throw your thoughts on how you used to water out the window. Rachio algorithms water in a way to promote healthier more drought tolerant plants and grass by watering as infrequently as possible, but for longer times. In many cases other than extreme heat, Rachio will most likely not water daily.

Secondly, if you have cycle soak running, the duration showing in the schedule is probably including the soak time.

Third, if you want to review your settings, post screenshots of your zone settings (and advanced) and we can take a look.

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I had the same issue and ended up making a Fixed schedule for my zones, they’ll still adjust times based on weather etc but I know what works well for my lawn and plants for the past 5-10 years and Flex scheduling did not work right for me. For example, using the Flex scheduling for my drip lines that water trees would set watering to 10+ hours only once per month. That makes no sense. Also if I selected specific days for the Flex scheduling it wouldn’t even water on those days. That was after I mapped my zones accurately and adjusted advanced settings. Maybe Flex scheduling needs to learn first before it establishes a better routine? Either way I’m not going to risk only watering my trees once per month and at 10+ hours, that would dry them out then cause root rot and mold.

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@questioneverything: why do you say that infrequent deep watering of trees doesn’t make sense?

Where I live, “wild” trees have to go about 3 months (or more) with no additional water. Yes, I live on the edge of a desert. There’s a reason that they have those deep deep roots! I wouldn’t want to make my tame trees go that long, but once a month, deeply, seems like it would be fine.

Depends on the trees, climate, etc of course. All of my trees would die if I allowed the Flex scheduling to run once a month at 10+ hours. That’s more than double what I water them. I planted some rare varieties that don’t grow naturally in my area and have kept them growing and healthy for years. Maybe if zone details could go further and specify types of plants the flex scheduling would adjust more accurately. Trees are expensive and I’m into keeping them alive.

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Ok, so deep watering trees one a month does make sense in general, it just may not work for your specific set of trees. It’s understandable that Rachio’s general algorithm isn’t tuned for rare cases. If I’m not mistaken, your specific situation is exactly what Allowed Depletion is for. You want to keep it smaller.

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Yeah I agree. Plus I have only had the Rachio for a week so still need to fine tune every zone setting as time goes on. Maybe I’ll hit it right on and get flex scheduling working for me before this growing season is done. I wanted to mention my issues to the OP since they may have a more custom scenario as well. I wouldn’t tell anyone to just go with what the controller says because it means you were doing it wrong before.

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Thank you all for your responses! It’s great hearing about other experiences and advice.
I live in a subdivision in Roseville, California, right outside of Sacramento. The land was previously orchards and small farms and a lot of oaks. When it was being developed in the 1990s, the bulldozers pushed the topsoil away and built the houses on hard pan clay. They dug holes and planted trees and shrubs. They installed drip lines and covered it all with landscape fabric and/or 2-3 inches of topsoil, and then a light layer of bark.
The houses are slightly elevated above the street. Now, when people water their yards for more than 5-10 minutes, the water ends up in the gutter!

I decided to go with a fixed schedule and use the soak feature. I will keep an eye on it and see how that works.

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BTW, you can force the soak in Flex Daily by setting all your zones to Steep Slope. There is no downside to doing this except for a longer run time.


I like that idea! Thanks, beranes! :smiley:


I fine tuned all my zone settings this afternoon and the Rachio updated the zone watering times in my current Fixed schedules which run 2 days per week. It set the times to almost exactly what I normally do for all zones. :slight_smile:

I also created some test schedules for Flex options, every schedule with all types of skips enabled.

  • Flex Daily with any day watering now schedules to water every day instead of once per month lol, which would also be double the amount of watering time I normally do per month with all zones.

  • Flex Monthly schedule with any day watering sets itself to water about 1/8 of what I normally do per month with all zones.

  • If I set either Flex schedule to 2 days per week, the lawn zone time recommendation are correct but drip line zone recommendations go to almost 0 minutes watering.

For whatever reason I don’t think the Flex scheduling will work for me. It sets the watering times almost perfect when I go with a Fixed schedule setup to run 2 days per week. ¯\(ツ)

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Curious if you also calibrated “Nozzle Inches Per Hour” to match the actual rates?

Curious if you also calibrated “Nozzle Inches Per Hour” to match the actual rates?

Yes, inches per hour set based on actuals, well an average of actuals-ish. What I don’t understand is why the Fixed schedule at 2 days per week sets/recommends watering times that are just right but the Flexed, although close in some aspects, are not right. I would think given the same basic parameters (set days, set start) with Fixed, Flex Daily and Flex Monthly, the recommended outcomes would be very similar. I hear Flex pulls historic weather data as well as current data, not sure if that’s true or how far back it pulls data from. Maybe Flex is accounting for something in my area that didn’t or doesn’t affect me?

Nvm, must’ve been a synchronization issue. Just tried creating new Flex schedules and it now recommends the same times as the Fixed, when set for same days and starts :slight_smile:

I stumbled across this guide, great info.


Also keep in mind @questioneverything that Flex Daily adjusts watering frequency as needed. I’m in Arizona, and my drip will run about every 3+ weeks in the winter, and will increase to about every 7 days in the heat of Arizona summer. I have no idea what your zone settings are, or if they are correct, but I’d argue over a beer any day with you that Rachio is more “right” when it comes to watering. :beers:

I like you used to water all my trees and shrubs 2-3 times a week, so it took a while to “re-train” the plants to dig deeper for water (slowly adjusting crop coefficient and/or root depth over the course of months). Now my plants are healthier than they were and less affected by sudden heat spikes.

Small anecdotal story…Prior to Rachio, I had numerous issues with large trees blowing over in our monsoon storms and high winds. When they would come down, a majority of the root mass was VERY shallow due to frequent watering leaving the roots with no need to dig down for water. In the last 5 years, I haven’t had a single tree down.

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Since I fine tuned settings now the recommended watering times for Fixed and Flex are identical for 2 days per week watering, which is the same as I’ve done for years. So I’d say that both me and the Rachio are correct at the moment, it reaffirmed what I’ve been doing. I am going to let it run Flex Daily for a month with Any Day watering and compare water usage to my usual 2 day per week watering. Knowing what I’ve done for years to maintain a healthy lawn and trees I’ll be able to easily compare. I may need to tweak the allowed depletion in some zones still to water more or less often but I think the crop coefficient water amount per week is right on. If Flex Daily Any Day ends up watering more per zone than I used to then I’ll switch back to 2 days per week so I can save water. That’s the only thing I have left to compare is the savings.

My area in Colorado is full of bentonite clay so my trees don’t blow over fortunately but heavy wind can take their top off. Once the roots break through that bentonite barrier they have plenty of water. I’m guessing most watering I do never makes it very far down, it just helps young roots gain enough power to get through the bentonite. I’ve probably been under watering for years but with correct setting in the Rachio so far it seems to agree.

You must have sandy soil in AZ. That would make things difficult with heavy wind and rain.

My area specifically is sandy loam, but there are areas with clay loam and clay.

My issue I think had more to do with a very shallow root structure.

Sounds like Rachio helped you out so I’m excited to see what it does for me. I’ve been using RainMachine the past few years, very similar but not as much customization. Well if you ever have a whole tree pull up ragain maybe you can pan for gold. Then you can let the Rachio run your wash plant lol :slight_smile: jk. I’ve heard a lot of the gold deposits in AZ are in sandier areas. Easy to find the gold but not enough water to run the wash plants.