Fixed Schedules are Unsatisfactory

It would be great if some manufacturer offered a controller that made programming for drip easier. Maybe they don’t because the industry seems to be focused on grass. I currently use the RainMachine with fixed schedules and their adaptive watering feature which will reduce watering duration and days according to the weather. I would love to have a device that could use smart watering with drip. If I could just enter the plant type, soil, emitter GPH/GPM, etc. and it would schedule everything for me, that would be the bomb.

I’m happy as long as my plants are healthy. The fixed schedule is the path of least resistance, and it works. So, if it ain’t broke . . .

That’s honestly what Rachio does. It really isn’t THAT hard to get your settings dialed in.

I appreciate what you’re saying, and I don’t doubt that you are correct. And I do feel a little bad that I’m not taking advantage of the system’s cool advanced features. Maybe I’ll give it another try after the rainy season, which is just starting here in the Sacramento Valley (Davis, CA). Thanks for your advice. Much appreciated.

Does the Rachio have a Sprinkler Head setting for Surface Drip?

There are a few options for drip style emitters. All of them have a default precipitation rate (how much water gets put down), but that is where a little knowledge of your sprinkler system comes into play to adjust that to match what you actually have.

I have pretty good knowledge of my system since I built it myself. The entire system, the valve assembly, the atmospheric vacuum breakers, the in-ground PVC, everything. I know every emitter since I installed them all too. I have drippers, bubblers, and dripline, and they’re all rated in GPH. I’d really love to have a controller that would schedule the waterings.

Again, that is exactly what Rachio does with Flex Daily schedules. You just need to get the information entered accurately and let it do its thing.

In the summer, when temps are 110+ here in AZ, my drip zones run every 3-5 days (shrubs) or 7-9 days (trees), and in the winter, those will automatically back down to every 7-10 days and 14+ days without any intervention.

But somehow you have to get from GPH to inches of water, right? Doesn’t inches depend on the area? A dripper doesn’t have an area if it’s for an individual plant. And what about my garden where I may have several bubblers serving multiple plants but not the whole garden area?

Here’s the problem with drip, as I see it. We have a mixed population of drippers/bubblers/dripline on a drip zone. There will of course be only one run time for all of the emitters on a zone. So, each of the emitters have to be selected to provide the correct volume of water for the plants serviced by that emitter, during the same time duration. A simple spreadsheet should help with that. You just have to know the watering area and depth for each emitter. There are 231 cubic inches in a gallon so the math is easy. Then you have to get the controller to use the ET data to adjust the watering time.

Actually I should have said “weather data” instead of ET.

There is a partial argument here to work backwards, and perfect if you have a spare zone.

If you had a run of pretty constant weather, then you could copy the zone you want onto a spare zone, and see how it reacts. If you know an approximate duration and frequency for a particular time of year, you could maybe get Flex Daily settings to match what you reckon should happen.

Then once the weather changes, hopefully the schedules will adjust automatically accordingly

In my case, I have a system in an appartments complex 2,000 miles away. So I absolutely HAD to get my settings right. If the grass died, the residents would have been up in arms !!!

One mistake I did make early on was to assume the soil type. This meant that retention in the soil was less than the Rachio thought, and some places became quite bare. Thankfully I rescued the situation in time, as I visited the complex just before the summer heat arrived.

The system is fantastic. I don’t need to check it anymore, other than just ensuring it’s online.

I do think the app could be better with offline notifications, between the controller or the chosen weather station.