Help with Zone settings and Schedules

I just recently installed Rachio Gen 2 controller and need some help optimizing the schedule and zones. I am located in the Houston, TX area and have 6 zones.

Zone 1 - Front yard (main) - Mostly St. Augustine grass and 2 trees. Using Rainbird 8000 rotors.

Zone 2 - Front yard (landscape bed) - this is a small zone located around the front porch and sides of the garage containing various shrubs and perennial flowers. Using Rainbird 1800 pop up sprinklers with various VAN nozzles.

Zone 3 - It’s a long but narrow zone going from the street to the back of our house. Its mostly just St. Augustine grass. Using Rainbird 1800 pop up sprinklers.

Zone 4 - Covers the biggest area of our backyard with St. Augustine grass and various trees planted. Using Rainbird 1800 with rotary nozzles.

Zone 5 - Another section of the backyard with a few trees and St. Augustine grass. Using Rainbird 1800 pop up sprinklers.

Zone 6 - Another section of the backyard with a few trees and St. Augustine grass. Using Rainbird 8000 rotors.

Before getting Rachio we had a Rainbird controller and the installer recommended watering 3 times per week in the summer with approximately 10 minutes for each zone except:

Zone 2 - was set to 6 minutes

Zone 4 - was set to 22 minutes because of the rotary nozzles.

Now that I have the Rachio installed I setup a fixed day schedule to mimic what I had before but want to try the dynamic monthly or daily schedules. However, every time I tried doing that, it causes the run time to be something like 5 or 6 hours. Although I can adjust the times manually myself it still leaves the schedule as watering twice a week or even once a week in the middle of July. We have full sun here with 100 degree heat so that does not seem right.

I am not a yard or soil expert. I have tried my best to adjust soil type, etc…in zone settings which did not do much. Looked at various posts, FAQ’s, etc…

Any recommendations as to how I can optimize the system and settings? That is without having to do custom soil tests, cup tests, etc…

Here is how I have the zone settings now:
Zone 1: Warm Season Grass. Clay Loam. Rotary heads. Flat. Lots of sun. 12 min
Zone 2. Shrubs. Sandy Loam. Fixed heads. Some Shade. 10 min
Zone 3. Warm Season Grass. Clay Loam. Fixed heads. Flat. Lots of sun. 10 min
Zone 4. Warm Season Grass. Clay Loam. Rotary Nozzle. Flat. Lots of sun. 24 min
Zone 5: Warm Season Grass. Clay Loam. Fixed heads. Flat. Lots of sun. 12 min
Zone 6. Warm Season Grass. Clay Loam. Rotary heads. Flat. Lots of sun. 12 min

I didn’t mess with any advanced settings.

Without a catch cup test, it will be difficult to setup a flex daily.n you can go that route but you risk some heat stress dialing it in…if you can spring for those cups and post the results, we can help you dial that into perfection in minutes, else we can help, but there COULD be some damage to the turf short term.

Having said that, you can just setup daily fixed schedules based on your existing setup and be good to go…but I’m telling ya, flex daily is magical…there is something special about not knowing when your grass is going to be watered, and when concern developers, it is usually the next morning.

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@plainsane Thanks for the response. I have the Rachio setup with fixed daily schedule just how I had my old ‘dumb’ controller configured. It would be great if I can get the dynamic schedules configured properly though so when we get to fall / winter it will automatically decrease the watering without me having to do anything and then automatically increase in spring / summer…

I ll do what I can to get the data to help you help me :slight_smile:
So regarding the catch cups. Can I just use a regular measuring cup from the kitchen, set it in the zone, turn it on for 10 minutes and then see how much water is in it? Then convert the water accumulation from fluid OZ to cubic inches? Or can I stick a rain gauge in the zone and measure using that?

Let me know if that will work and I can try that with 1 out of 6 zones.


These are the ones I got to do my catch cup tests

I know you can also use tuna cans if you have some of those laying around. The problem with just using one measuring cup is that you want to take several maeasurments around the zone so you would need to either run it several times as you move the cup through the zone or put down multiple cups.

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@srudenko Another option if you don’t have any restrictions is to try out the flexible monthly schedules. The configuration is somewhat more forgiving since we just change intervals and duration once a month, so the schedules are more predictable. You still get the benefit of rain skips and climate skips (ET based tracking). If those work well the next jump could be flex daily. Just a thought…


@franz I tried the flex monthly schedule setup but for next week it put 2 watering days and the week after just 1. That does not seem like enough in south Texas. I also manually adjusted the zone run times because as mentioned the automatic setup had each zone running for like an hour each.

I will buy some of these at a local store to measure the water and post back the results and hopefully get some help to adjust the advanced settings.

@srudenko Ok understood. One thing I noticed on your soil choice is clay loam which has a fairly high available water capacity (.2 inches). If you changed this to say silty clay (.16 inches) your durations will be a little less but the system will water more frequent.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert (because I’m not!) but was curious and looked up watering for the region of Texas you are in

I found this interesting.

Don’t over-water. Soil can absorb only so much moisture and the rest simply runs off. A timer will help, and either your kitchen timer or an alarm clock will do. An inch-and-a-half of water applied once a week will keep most Texas grasses alive and happy.

Our smart cycle will help with run off since it will allow the water to soak in and break the schedule into cycles.

Hope this helps. If you need assistance in the zone advanced settings we can help.

Another easy lever is the crop coefficient. If you bump that up you will water more frequently.

I usually recommend starting with one zone on flex daily, seeing what is working and what isn’t. If you become comfortable with it then roll out to other zones.


I got some rain gauges and did a quick run of zones 1 to 3 for 10 minutes each. I eyeballed the results…this is not 100% accurate but looks like…

Zone 1: 0.1 in
Zone 2: 0.5 in
Zone 3: 0.15 in

Right now in Rachio zone 1 is set to rotor head. Zone 2 and 3 are set to fixed nozzles. All advanced settings at defaults.

Just wanted to follow up and see if there are any ‘advanced’ settings to change based on these numbers I got after running the zones for 10 minutes each

Zone 1: 0.1 in
Zone 2: 0.5 in
Zone 3: 0.15 in

Take this numbers multiply by six and set that as your pr for the respective zones.

But honestly, use catch cups, they sit lower to the ground as irrigation water doesn’t come straight down but arches in so your numbers are probably low.

I’ve got 'em and they are super easy to use and provide you with calculations online, including PR and efficiency.

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