Holy Cow! I just want to water the grass!

Ok, so I’ve used Rachio gen 1 for two full seasons on 2 different yards now (I took Rachio with me when I moved). Same problem each yard / season, too little recommended water unless I set times myself as evidenced with yellowing lawn. So last year I didn’t have time to figure out what was going wrong so just used a lot of water in timed zones like a standard rainbird clock.

I’m ready to try again fresh this year and, oh my, the knowledge base! 21 articles just on schedules? I really just want to water the grass, not become a biologist, landscaper or hydrologist. I just don’t have time to study everything here though I wish I could.

What is the best way for me to quick start and adjust as I see the results while taking advantage of some basic features/advantages like seasonal shifts and rain delays? I’d like to save water but my time available for this device tinkering is limited.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can respond.


One important thing to examine is the efficiency of your system. When I hear yellow spots it usually because of low pressure, improper head spacing and/or heads out of adjustment. I would do a system test and see what is going on with your system. If all is well, redo a proper setup for each zone. For rotors, Rachio uses 1 inch per hour. This is too high. Look at manufacturer nozzle and rotor performance charts. Use flexible daily


Hey @Tracy!

I agree, the knowledge base is overwhelming. We have a great community, and I hope we can get you to a schedule that doesn’t result in yellow spots!! @robertokc made a fantastic point, it is important to make sure your irrigation system is working properly, because ultimately, Rachio cannot fix a broken system.

However, it sounds like there are for sure some scheduling issues regardless of your system. What type of schedule have you been using? Have you gone through and set up your zones to tailor them to your yard? This will help us start to troubleshoot!

McKynzee :rachio:


Thanks to both of you for responding…

All the heads work and are adjusted best they can be. The issue with my yard and most suburban irrigated yards is that the heads and measurements are not hydraulically engIneered or modeled. It is a landscapers quick work. The sprinklers are not terrible but coverage is not perfectly even within zones. So I have to plan for the lowest common denominator.

I do tailor my zones to the specific sprinkler head types. But rotors have always been too low. Good tip by @robertokc that the standard rotary assumption by Rachio might be high. I can’t identify the heads I have because I moved in 15 years after they were installed. I doubt all the heads are original today. I will try but think even if I can find a unique model it might be hard to find flow rates from 15 yrs ago and some may be adjusted down some anyway.

Like I said, today I’m just doing Fixed Days. All I really want to do is follow Rachio climatic / seasonal changes and maybe adjust the zone + / - percentages to dial in the standard to what I see as proper. Is this possible? Do you have to dink with head flow rate assumptions to get this zone specific + / -?

I’m not going to be wasteful, but do not need to micromanage water usage where I am at. Flexible daily doesn’t sound like its for me based on the app description. Flexible monthly sounds interesting as I have 1/2 grass zones and 1/2 flower bed zones and the beds need daily watering (but not much water at a time).

Well, maybe finding rotor information isn’t as bad as I thought. Rainbird T-22 2.0 specs - 22’ - 1.80 GPM at 45 - 55 psi which I think I have. Interestingly the GPM is 1.9 at 35 psi 21’ so working toward higher PSIs should be be ok for me.

Rain Bird T 22? Are these the old T-Birds? If so, these heads must be 15 years old. Rain Birds current residential rotor is their 5000 Series. If T-birds they are no longer manufactured. I hope changing to a custom nozzle setting helps. I would use .50 inch per hour.

The watering frequency is a problem for me too. I’ve had to switch to a combination of manual activation of a select number of zones + fixed watering days. I’ve got a backyard that faces full sun south, and a front yard that’s full shade north. The Texas sun fries the backyard, so it needs more frequent watering.

Yep, T 22s. House built in 1999 so the heads were installed then I think. I moved in in July 2016. Thanks for the .5 inch per hour. I will start there with custom nozzle and adjust up or down as needed. I’m taking by your answer the way to use the Rachio automated climate change features is to adjust the nozzles on a flexible monthly schedule as standard. Rather than telling system +/- a % for a particular zone. I have seen an option for the later so will focus on dialing in the nozzle rates. Right?

You can have more than one watering schedule and run both concurrently. I’ve done that before for beds. Something like main program runs S W F and another with just that sun zone coming on every 2 days (or every day) to supplement. Hope this helps.


I have a fixed schedule to water the veggie gardens in the mornings. When the temps hit the 105F+, I enable a second, shorter fixed schedule that waters about 4 pm for a brief period to get the plants through the desert heat.


Tracy, Thanks. Yes, that’s what I’ve done to help the variation. The automation gets you just so far. It’s probably best for those properties where homogeneous conditions exist. In other words, relying on the Flexible Monthly or Flexible Daily for getting it correct may not work. The other problem I’ve found is that the automation is only as good as the weather station and it’s proximity to you. Here in Round Rock Texas, there’s so much variation that you can’t rely on generalized regional activity. Rain may occur in certain western parts of the area and nothing occurs when the system gets east.

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@MrWoody, and the variation can be even more local. My daughter lives in Round Rock and works in Georgetown – she’s seen it pour cats and dogs in Georgetown and get nothing in Round Rock! And she’s only a 10 minute drive from work.

BTW, I set her up with a Flex Daily schedule, and it’s working pretty well for her. I did have her put in a rain sensor and that helped.

Exactly - The weather stations being only several miles away could make or break the accuracy. The problem here is the public weather stations, in several cases, don’t record/report precipitation. I’ve got the rain sensor but took it down when I got the Rachio. I thought I wouldn’t need it any longer. Looks like I’ve got to put that back up.