Help! $70k of plantings dying; too dry...how to modify?


#1

I installed a massive 700 feet of trees and bushes along my fence line in the Florida Keys. Plants were established two years ago on a regular timer system. Water is expensive here so I bought a rachio and setup 10 zones. Flexible daily, smart cycle on, duration 2 hours (don’t know how it chose that duration). It’s been watering every two weeks, and it’s not nearly enough in the dry Keys. How do you force it to water more often, or realize the ground water saturation is not what it thinks it is? I have zones set to Shrubs, Loamy Sand, Some shade, fixed spray head, flat slope…pretty much what I have there, I think…The ground is actually rocky sand, but loamy sand is pretty porous setting…

My plants are established over two years now but drying out and many shrubs are now dead (I was not monitoring closely enough; they are dense foliage). My new lawn people told me the system simply is starving the plants of needed water. Other than overriding the 2 hour of watering setting, is there a way to force more often watering on flexible daily, or forget about that and use a fixed schedule (which isn’t much better than my old rainbird…)?

Thanks in advance.


#2

I would manually setup 9 zones and water how much you want it to and then play around with 1 zone. We can then dial in your settings for the one zone to see how it responds.


#3

Duration comes from the nozzle you chose and the root depth I believe. How confident are you that the precipitation rate for the nozzle you chose matches what you actually have there? You could increase the watering time by decreasing the precipitation rate. You could also increase the root depth but that would also affect the watering interval. You might also think about increasing the watering frequency increasing the crop coefficient. The shrub setting contains a default coefficient but if your plants are more thirsty then the average used by the SW you might not be watering often enough.


#4

Hey @starmanj!
I am sorry to hear you are having issues with flex, while it is very powerful it also can require some fine tuning to get working! Zone settings are key for flex, as the users above me touched on. I like to begin with figuring out soil, because it’s often one of the more difficult settings to figure out and it has a lot of impact. I used the guide below at your location to check your soil type:

Following those steps, I found that your Available Water Capacity (AWC) is actually 0.15 (screenshot below)

However, your soil type proved more interesting, and may require some backup (looking at you two @Modawg2k @JPedrego)

I agree with @JPedrego about possibly increasing crop coefficient. I’m also curious after looking at your soil profile if your root zone depth is actually too high- questioning how roots would grow in weathered bedrock? Lowering your RZD would lower duration, but it should increase your frequency. I would love to hear some other opinions on this one…


#5

@starmanj, a simple solution would be to change the allowed depletion threshold from the default 50% to 20 or 30% – for more details, please see this thread.

Are you sure you have fixed spray heads? Usually drip zones do not have fixed spray heads. Please double check the photos under Drip Nozzles in this support article.

If the shrubs were established, they will probably come back with some TLC :slight_smile:

Unless the lawn people are arborists, I’d get a second option. Happy to try to see if we have any local RachioPro(s) in your area if you’re interested.


#6

I have a similar problem although I am in Central Florida. I too use Flex Daily schedule, and tie the system to a local weather station (not personal WPS) 2.86 miles away. My soil is mostly potting soil, and I have set for loam. The water schedule is up and down and while it is meant to be ‘smart’ it’s driving me crazy. Most of the time, the soil is dry, not even damp, although the Rachio reports a long duration of water. I have contemplating switching it to forced daily, but that seems to defeat the whole idea of using Rachio. That said, how do I take advantage for daily watering but using the staggered water time to allow absortion and reduce runoffs? Thanks.


#7

You pay taxes right? So use your County IFAS office. Their office is local and they know your problems with science based research. It’s also free to call but I would bring in a sample and they will at least confirm your water amount concern. Pest and landscapers often get training and certified by IFAS.
UF/IFAS Extension Monroe County
1100 Simonton Street, # 2-260 Key West, FL 33040
monroe@ifas.ufl.edu
(305) 292-4501


#8

@Tinkeringeek, Flex Daily schedules do not change in duration, only interval on a per zone basis. You may need to adjust your Allowed Depletion if you’d like the system to water more frequently. That said, you may want to consider a Flex Monthly schedule if you’d like the system to run on a more consistent basis (one interval for all zones), while leveraging a monthly schedule update that uses weather data to match ET requirements in your area.

I believe you’re interested in Smart Cycle which is on by default for all schedules. If you’re watering loam soil on a daily basis, you probably won’t meet/exceed the threshold to trigger Smart Cycle as it compares the infiltration rate of the soil and the application rate of your nozzles to determine if the water can soak into the soil fast enough. If you’re seeing puddling or run off, the soil and/or nozzle setting needs to be adjusted.


#9

These are fantastic suggestions, thank you! Part of my difficulty is Rachio does not explain what effect each settings has. For example, Sand is labeled .6in/hr…what does that mean? .6 in of water will penetrate the soil in one hour? And Clay is .1 in/hr, does that mean if I choose Clay it will get more or less watering?

Pointed to Rachio employees: It would be great if Rachio had a pop up info field explaining basics.

I don’t understand what “available water” nor “allowed depletion” nor “efficiency” nor “crop coefficient” means, again why not have a brief explanation pop-up for each of these things? I have no idea if raising any of these values will increase or DECREASE water time and interval. I recommend adding these basic explanatory features; I don’t want to be an expert in this area, I just want a working irrigation system. If nothing else, just tell me what raising a value does!!

Anyway I’m reducing allowed depletion to 35% to see if that helps; but changing values does not have an immediate effect on my schedule. Does Rachio change intervals once a day? When do I see the effect of changing values?

Again a great community and thanks!


#10

I agree, your suggestion would be an easier way to access the information. In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that the information is very well described, but involves an additional step. What I did was go to this link and type in the terms you’re interested in (ie “available water”, “allowed depletion”, etc.)

http://support.rachio.com/#knowledgebase

The articles are really well written there, IMHO. After the search, make sure that you’re looking at the ‘Knowledge Base’ tab to see the write-ups.

As an example, to address your question of what setting changes do to duration and frequency, check out the table mid-way through this knowledge base article: http://support.rachio.com/article/385-flex-schedule-tips

As a bit of a side note, realize that you don’t need to get deep into this stuff to use the Rachio. Per your comment of “I just want a working irrigation system”, you might not want to be using Flex Daily. There are other scheduling methods that are not as sensitive to detailed settings, but they won’t be as optimal either. What you put in, and how much you get back, is totally up to you. The software gives you the options. Realize, however, that Flex Daily does require some investment of time to understand the settings, and your vegetation and irrigation system in general. In my case, it has paid off incredibly well. I’m going on about 1 year of use with my Rachio now. Last month was my lowest water bill ever, at $8 and some change. I think I watered my lawn once in the entire month, thanks to some rain and cooler temperatures, and I didn’t water my trees or shrubs at all in January. I spent a lot of time dialing in settings last spring and early summer, but haven’t really touched them since other than when I overseeded my lawn.

Welcome to the community!


#11

As one of the initial software creators of all that I fully agree. In our roadmap is making adjustments for flex daily much easier, but taking complex concepts and simplifying them fully is going to take time. @azdavidr has some great suggestions in the meantime. We completely understand that most users don’t want to and shouldn’t have to learn these advanced concepts :wink:

:cheers:


#12

Hi Franz!
Wow it sure is great having the creator acknowledge my suggestions in this user forum-- that tells me volumes about Rachio’s success.
Thank you!
Steve


#13

Once you sort out the water issue, don’t forget about Grub worms. Imagine, a creature that looks like the the star killer in Alien, eating your plantings from beneath the soil.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://bay.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/files/2014/03/Insect-Management-in-Your-Florida-Lawn.pdf&ved=0ahUKEwjZ95j5nfPTAhUFRSYKHW3xC7cQFgg-MAM&usg=AFQjCNFmq6wAr-JlyQNNT9lIqxFrB5Q-og