Everything too dry

I replaced a Rainbird controller with a Rachio 3 at the beginning of July. I started by replicating the run times and frequency of the old programs. I did not enable any of the advanced features, I just wanted to convert while then refine the programs. Two months later, everything is dry beyond understanding. Nothing is getting enough water and I don’t know where to start.

Example: My rose bed has bubblers and was set to specific days and run times. The previously beautiful and vigorous plants look awful. The same is true for my driplines and my front lawn seems to be the worst of all. The front is on a slope, for which I use cycle and soak. I did the cycling manually in my old controller so I was happy to see the Rachio would do it automatically…except that even though I increased the total run time, my lawn is barely making it and the soil is now dry and compacted. My driplines seem to be the worst. The same run times seem to be delivering much less water.

I’m really disappointed and would like to get on a better track with this controller.

Rachio has a feature that even with Fixed schedules (where you choose the times for each zone to run) called Seasonal Shift, which each month adjusts the times and intervals to accommodate the change in temperature, etc. I wonder if your Rainbird has a similar feature which was enabled, and when you “copied” the times and such from it in July for the Rachio, it then kept that same time, which wasn’t enough water for the hotter time since then.

That may not be the case, but in any event, more water is needed in hotter months. Flex Monthly and Flex Daily both do that (Monthly to a lesser degree), but a Fixed schedule will not, unless Seasonal Shift is selected. You can’t just add it now, BTW, because it assumes you’re entering a correct number for the month, and will only change from then on.

As to the same runtimes delivering less water, of course that should not be happening. But are you sure the frequency (how often) of watering is the same as what you had previously?

There was nothing automatic about the Rainbird. One reason I got the Rachio was to be able to “skip” during a rainy period without going down to the basement to set rain delay. Given the water situation in California these days, I thought a more “intelligent” controller was in order.

All but one of my schedules is set to “Fixed” and seasonal shift is off. I copied the programming for each zone from the old controller before I installed the Rachio it so I’m sure of the days and runtimes. Most of my drip lines are on every other day and the lawn zones are twice a week on my allowed days. Most of my runtimes are short (6-8) minutes and were more than adequate for my purposes. It took me a while to realize that everything has been gradually drying up. My landscape contractor (who recommended this brand) suggested longer run times and/or multiple watering sessions per day but again, how does that save water? My brother, who is from Hawaii, now insists on supplementing with hand watering every day so this controller has actually resulted in my using more water for everything.

I asked rachio if there were some kind of technical manual that can fully explain just how the “advanced” options interact but was just sent to a couple of web pages that are hard to digest online. My soil is actually sandy clay but since that’s not an option at all, I’ve set up all my zones as silty clay, would changing them all to just clay make a diference?

If you are using a fixed schedule with the same run times and frequency of your old programs, then all the other options for figuring out watering times and durations that Rachio can do aren’t in effect. The one thing would be if you have rain skip “on”, then the system won’t water when it rains, but then in that case your zones would still be getting water. Perhaps you are having a hotter summer than normal? Are you also sure that the system is putting out water as it should?

If you post the settings of the one schedule that is not a “fixed” schedule, there are lots of people in the community that can help get you going.

I fixed schedule with fixed times and frequencies will not work anywhere in the world which is not an almost constant temperature. And I can’t image 6-8 minutes twice a week being enough for summer. Anywhere. If that worked all the time with Rainbird, there’s a special sauce included in there somewhere.

It is a big learning curve to change over. There may have been some setting in the railbird controller that may have been missed. 6-8 is not enough for lawn. Try to go through each station and set them up to water with Flex Daily. We were gone a whole six months through summer and we came back with everything ok. Now, it is not perfect. I did see some lawn areas that could used a bit more water. There are some fine tweaks i am learning about now like Crop coefficient and stuff like that. Overall i am very pleased with my Rachio and it worked great all summer and fall long.

adjusting water

From my own personal experience, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for your Rachio to under water your property, provided you tell the system PROPERLY about your property.

I would suggest that you post the setting for one of your zones, and someone can assist to hopefully pinpoint the error in your setup.

It may simply be that you have misunderstood some particular setting.

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