Grass is Brown: Idea = Zone Checkup Feature

I spent a total of 1 hr and 41 minutes on the phone today with two members of your support team (first line & a scheduling specialist) because my grass is brown. They verified that I had properly setup soil, vegetation, nozzles, exposure, and slope with all zones on a Flexible Daily Schedule allowing watering any day except Thursday (the day our lawn service mows). My Rachio was installed on May 28th, so it has run now for seventeen days. We went through the advanced settings in every zone in order to play with the settings to get more water to the lawn. That was not a good use of my time and your company’s.

Why not have a “Zone Checkup” feature where a wizard walks the user through a series of questions for each zone and based on the answers a macro is run on your server that updates the advanced settings of all of the zones that are impacted. For example: “Let’s review your zones”. What is the color of the grass in Zone #1? Lush green, fairly green, partially brown, moderately brown, or very brown? Based on how the customer answers the zone’s advanced settings would be adjusted and Rachio would send an email two weeks later indicating that they are due for another Zone Checkup.

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Throw up one of your grass zone settings so we can take a look. What nozzle are you using? Where are you located, and do you in fact have the correct soil selected?

Flex daily is a garbage in, garbage out kinda thing. You have to feed it good info for it to work the way it is supposed to.

And I also think people underestimate the complexity of the algorithms that Rachio has put in place with the flex daily scheduling. It is leaps and bounds ahead of anything else out there and adding a “zone checkup” feature isn’t as simple as a couple lines of coding…in the end, even with a “zone checkup” these algorithms are going to make adjustments (seasonal or weather) based on the information that was fed into it in the beginning. At best it could force a manual watering to try and catch up, but that would be a short term fix.


How good is your irrigation design and maintenance? Have you done a zone check for problems?

Odd, I just put a similar PRODUCT SUGGESTION post up a few minutes ago. In my case, my lawn looks great in most areas except two of my zones (on a Flex Daily) have mushrooms. Lots of them. So, your ZONE CHECKUP could work like what I wanted, whereas it wouldn’t take you off a Flex Daily, but based on “conditions” could simply teach the system to back off or step up mildly. So, if “Zone 4 has mushrooms” then for the next 8-10 days, reduce watering on that zone by 9% (or something like that) - my zones typically water for 13 or 14 minutes… so just make it 11 for a couple weeks. But leave the Flex Daily in place; just with mild fine-tuning.

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When I speak of a sprinkler checkup, it is running each zone and looking for: broken heads, sunken heads, pipe breaks, heads out of adjustmen, rotors not turning, leaking heads, leaking backflow, mix of rotors and sprays, coverage issues, high or low pressure. It is a visual inspection. I do one monthly and am surprised what I find. Found a head I hit with the edger yesterday.

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I tend to agree with @tmcgahey that a zone checkup “wizard” would be non-trivial in order to do a good job. As @sunny has indicated in another thread, the symptoms of overwatering and under watering may be similar. Also, I could see the system getting into a continuous overcompensating cycle of “too wet” and “too dry”. The more I think about it, any sort of “wizard”, AI, or feedback loop would need to be well-designed or it could make things worse. Making Rachio act like a Nest thermostat would be cool but even harder due to all of the externalities and the slower, less reliable feedback from a human.

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Nothing can be better than a visual inspection of your sprinkler system.

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