Flex Schedules in Desert Climates

@rachiosupport, will bubblers fall under drip and not implement a cycle soak regardless of the PR?

Yes! If you’d like to get cycle soak, you could set it up as a spray head with a custom PR :slight_smile:

So there you go… @CW92262, this is why smart cycle wasn’t working. The bubblers fall under irrigation that doesn’t allow for cycle soak, since normally you wouldn’t need it for direct application watering. If you want Rachio to automatically run cycle soak, just change the nozzle type to spray head and for now leave the Inches Per Hour the 3.5" until we have a chance to calculate out what those bubblers might actually be putting out.

Thank you. Would it be preferable to do that or just keep it as I currently have (manual cycle/soak of 3m/30m)? Or is it not doing the manual cycle, either?

I just checked the history (it watered all three zones this morning). It appears it did NOT do the manual cycle/soak, either. So, I will change the nozzle type.

EDIT: I just changed the nozzle type (and changed PR to 3.5"). Now on the upcoming schedule I see it has added the cycle/soak. So, “bubbler” does not allow for cycle/soak (maybe that should be changed?).

Correct, bubbler does not allow cycle soak. Cycle soak was designed for spray nozzles to prevent runoff on grass. Usually not a problem with individual point type drip irrigation (or bubblers in your case).

I live in Phoenix AZ. The flexible scheduling on the Rachio 2 does not know amount of water that is delivered in x time. I have the same issues and always resort to using fixed schedules. You Need Rachio 3 with a flow meter for this. For example, it does not know if you have 1 2gph dripper on a tree or 10 2gph drippers. What you can try is to create a different fixed schedule for each season and then just enable and disable them as needed. Works great if you plant winter rye as you can create a Winter Rye schedule that waters 3xday for the 2 weeks after planting. Multiple fixed schedules and enable as needed. Flexible scheduling is not perfect. Hope this helps.

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I disagree…a number of us here in AZ are running Flex Daily without issues. From a water application standpoint Rachio knows what you tell it; it isn’t a mind reader. You have 10 2gph emitters on your tree’s you need to let it know. Garbage in, garbage out. If you are wanting the gallons used to match your water meter to the “T”, then yes, it does get a bit more difficult, because we need to really work on setting the area correctly.

Overseeding Rye is the only time I screw with any schedule changes with my Rachio…you are correct on one account…nothing is ever perfect, but Rachio is arguably the best smart irrigation system on the market today.

Happy to help you get your stuff sorted out @Ndavis130 if you would like to start your own thread.


This brings me to wonder, would adding the wireless flow meter to the Rachio 3 let it determine the exact amount of water going out to the nozzles? I’m asking this as to whether this would allow me to know exactly how much water my bubblers are delivering. I don’t know if the flow meter and Rachio 3 are able to make that sort of determination.

Yes, but no. Once calibrated, it would tell you the total output of the ZONE, but being adjustable flow bubblers, it would be hard to figure out what each one might be putting out. If it were me…I’d swap out those adjustable bubblers for some fixed flow bubblers like these from Hunter. If you pulled back the GPM to say 1GPM, on the bigger trees, and .5gpm on the smaller plants, you would run longer, but have less issues with runoff.

The Salco emitters are also really nice, but MUCH lower flow, and might not work for your application since you have one serving multiple plants.

Yeah, I guess I’d only get a rough idea using the flow meter and divide by the number of bubblers since each bubbler is slightly different. I’ll check into the Hunter nozzles. How does GPM translate to the inches per hour that Rachio uses?

You can use the calculator set up by @azdavidr here to calculate that out, now that we have the zone set back up with realistic parameters…can you go into the soil moisture section under each of the zones, click more detail and tell me what Rachio wants to put down in total inches and let me know what that is (the number circled below)?

Also, give me an idea what the average canopy size is in each of those zones so that we can get an idea how many gallons we should be putting down per watering to optimize plant health. This table comes from the Water Use it Wisely website, and is really designed for us desert dwellers.


Like I mentioned before, with the way yours is set up, this isn’t going to be an exact science since you have adjustable bubblers putting out a different GPM, and on top of that, a large mixture of plants and shrubs with very different watering needs.


Best of luck using the smart watering in the desert. I live in New Mexico and also found that the flex schedule simply did not work for me. The default settings were too far off out of the box and you had to know way too much about its internals to get it to work.

FORTUNATELY, I our local water authority publishes a watering recommendation that really works. They just recommend how many days/week we in Albuquerque should water for different months (see http://www.abcwua.org/Water_by_the_Numbers.aspx).

This translates perfectly to Rachio’s “Fixed Schedule.” I figured out how long the sprinklers needed to run then I simply use the water company’s recommendation to set the interval. I also enable some of the Weather Intelligence settings to adjust for rain and wind. Then I set a reminder on my phone for every few months to tell me to adjust the interval. If I notice my lawn isn’t getting quite enough water, I increase the duration appropriately. This works great, it’s simple, it complies with our local watering recommendations and restrictions, my lawn loves it and it gives me a lot of control.

I see that there’s now a “Seasonal Shift” option which I hoped would make it even simpler. However, looking at the FAQ, I see this shift only adjusts the watering duration (how many minutes it should run) and not the interval (how many days it should wait between watering).

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Feel free to start a thread and lets work thru you system and settings. Mine has been doing just fine thru 2 Arizona summers now…

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I’m checking in to see if you got your issues fixed, plus now that its summer if you have any new ones?
I just got the Rachio 3 and am having some FRUSTRATIONS with this thing. Its made my lawn look like complete garbage. I had an old (10 year old) Rainbird system and a beautiful yard last year.
Now w/ Rachio its looks like a Mad Max scene (*I was on vacation for 2 weeks thinking this would take care of itself).
Its “smart” settings are telling me to water my lawn for 50+ mins tho in AZ it floods in 10 cause its basically clay and go over a week between waterings.
I don’t care if this thing saves me a couple gallons of water if I need to spend $100’s on buying new plants.

Again, like I mentioned in the other thread, start your own thread and include your current settings, and lets take a look.

I simply could not use the “flex” scheduling here in Palm Springs. The smarts of the Rachio just don’t take into account this environment well. I now have it running three fixed schedules that water each zone twice daily. One of them does a very thorough watering every odd morning. One does a short watering every even morning. One does a short watering every evening. This is working well, my plants are happy. Anything less than this would result in many dead plants. Previously, when I tried using Flex scheduling with all the tips that people were giving me here, I nearly lost some big specimen palms and other plants. This environment is just not forgiving of even minor mistakes. The Rachio does make it easy to make sure the water is being used more efficiently. I like being able to set a soak time (I use 30 minutes) in between short watering sessions (typically 3 to 5 minutes). This makes sure the water goes to the plants, not wasted. It also does a seasonal shift and adds/subtracts a minute or two of watering when needed. And of course, on the rare occasion that it actually does rain, it won’t bother watering that session.

I’d beg to differ…The only thing Palm Springs has that Arizona doesn’t, is constant wind, but Rachio accounts for that in Crop Evapotranspiration.

IIRC, you had adjustable bubblers in your system. I’d still argue that while it might take some time, you could easily move away from watering daily (and twice daily! :astonished:) and move towards a more efficient (and arguably correct way) to water. I’m glad that your fixed schedules twice a day are working well for you, but ultimately, you are only promoting shallow roots structures. Deep roots allow for longer intervals between waterings. Heck, growing up, we only ever had flood irrigation for our trees, so they only got water every 13-14 days, even in the heat of the summer!

I changed the variable bubblers to fixed (1gpm for large trees, 0.5gpm for smaller shrubs, with 1/4" tubing with 0.5gpm drippers for large pots). Trying to “train” my plants resulted in nearly killing them. I’m not risking $10K+ palm trees for experiments with an irrigation controller. The palms were especially distressed (frond tips turning brown as much as 8" to 10"), as well as the roses (lost one of them, an older rose that I can’t replace because it is no longer available), plus lost several smaller plants. No more killing since changing to fixed scheduling.

Fair enough…

I was in your boat, even prior to Rachio. Previous owner of my house had trees watering every other day for an hour, and I started adjusting towards a “correct” watering schedule with my old Hunter controller until I switched to Rahio. Probably took me an honest two years of slowly adjusting between both controllers (using root depth setting on Rachio) until I got it where it needed to be. Now my trees water ever 7-9 days even in the 110+ temps we are having right now.

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I, too, live in Palm Springs. The previous owners had the typical water every day setup, with grass watering several times daily, all summer long.

We upgraded the entire house to a smart home and went with the Rachio 3. I did make sure the square footage and soil for each zone was correct and basically “hoped” Rachio was correct about the rest of the Flex Daily calculations. After 8 months now, I only had to add time to one zone. I have done two grass re-seeds (one Bermuda, now Winter Rye) using the Fixed schedule.

I’m happy to report all is well. Stopped a Phytophthora plague on the Ficus and Carolina Cherry hedges, saving the $300 monthly fungicide and fertilizing expense (114 of the Cherries were unsalvageable, but the other 300+ trees recovered.)

The current reseed schedule is 6X daily for 3 minutes on high efficiency rotators (8 am, 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, 4 pm and 6 pm). Only 18 minutes daily is far less than the usual for Palm Springsian reseeds.

Rachio was also able to stop the annual slaughter of succulents when the heat let off. We only lost two Agaves when they boiled at 122°.

Rachio has been a champ!