Flex Schedules in Desert Climates

Being from Phoenix, I know dry heat, but you guys tend to have the added wind. Even with that, I don’t see the need for watering twice a day everyday…although, that does tell me that your roots are going to be pretty shallow, so that will need to be accounted for with the new set-up.

For reference, my irrigation only waters my trees every 6-7 days in the heat of the summer here in AZ. I have drip irrigation, and much less permeable soil, but I don’t think more than every few days is really needed in your setup, once we re-train the plants that is…

Yes, and we’re on the north end of Palm Springs near the base of Mt. San Jacinto, so we get some fierce wind ripping through here. I really do appreciate how you’ve helped on this, I’ve taken some good notes already. I didn’t think the twice daily was very efficient, which is why I wanted to switch to the Rachio. We did a complete remodel of the inside of our home and I did a lot of home automation, so the switch to Rachio was a part of that initiative.


When you are ready, I’ll be here!

But in reality, you can start changing over now. Rachio will transfer all the data to the new unit.

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OK. I did a reset on the three zones. The zone with the big palms I set the root depth to 15", but the other two zones (with mostly shrubs and small plants) I set root depth to 10". I set soil type to Loamy Sand. All other settings are the default except for Nozzle Inches Per Hour I set to 3.5 (since you said these bubblers are putting out way more than 1" per hour). I set a Flex Monthly schedule for all three zones and it has the “Tree Zone” going for 9m, the other two zones for 6 minutes, and I did “Smart Soak”. It is showing on the calendar that it should water all three zones in the morning before sunrise. Hopefully it will, unless the other issue (the wifi problem that has been plaguing me the last three days) happens.

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So far, we are on the right track!

Does it show in the total run time that it is going to execute a cycle soak?

No. It looked like it was going to water all in one session so I changed it from “Smart Soak” to manual soak cycle so it will water for 3 minutes, soak for 30 minutes. So it should spread it all out (the 6 minute waterings will take 36 minutes, the 9 minute watering should take 69 minutes). We’ll see how that does.

@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.

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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