Honestly about ready to switch back to my old controller

First, I’ve been using the Rachio since October of last year. It’s been nothing but headaches, honestly. For one, the flex schedules simply don’t work right. In Phoenix, I could never get it to water more than every few days without “forcing” more water by setting the allowed depletion down all the way. Here, people water their grass 2-4 times per day, every day, for 10+ minutes. This is what it takes to keep burmuda grass green when it’s 110+ outside and very low humidity. After my burmuda turned nearly completely brown, I went back to manual schedules and watered four times per day, every day, for 20 minutes until I got it green again, then backed it down to twice per day for 10 minutes. What’s the point of a “smart” system using fancy math when the math doesn’t check out? I even had our local water company come out to validate the system (they were interested in learning about it, so they came out) and we did the whole catch cup thing, etc. Point is, calculating out available water, crop coefficients, root depths, efficiency, etc is FAR too much for the average consumer, and I believe I am well above the “average” consumer. Landscapers around here barely speak English – they have no clue what ET is or how to do anything more than say “grass is brown; water more”. That leaves all the programming to me and I’ve spent countless hours giving this thing a shot.

Today may have been the final step to get rid of this – it’s pouring rain and guess what? My sprinklers went on! I logged in to Rachio and it says we have 100% precipitation! Go figure! And yes, my programs do have rain skip weather intelligence turned on. What gives???

Anyone else about to trow this thing out the window? I have no idea what the logic is in using fancy ET math when a simple 12" probe in each zone would tell you A LOT more…


If these aren’t working for you have you tried flexible monthly schedules? For some users much less adjustment and much more predictable.

If you want to try this again, by far the easiest lever is adjusting the crop coefficient on your zones. Also, this community can help with adjustments. Admittedly they are not for everyone, that’s why we have three different levels of schedules.

We check real time weather one hour before the schedule is supposed to run, in your case 5 PM. Almost like clock work it started to rain heavily right at the time your schedule ran, 6 PM.

This graph from your chosen station shows what happened.

Next year I’d like to start checking 24 hours in advance, all the way up to when the schedule is supposed to run so we can make the system even more efficient.


A physical rain sensor will help in these edge cases, usually precipitation is falling before the schedule or forecasted after. In your case it hit perfectly when the schedule started. More info on our rain skip technology.


Hope this helps.


@JBHorne Respectfully disagree. City recommendations are about every 3 days in the peak heat, and I know a lot of o people that run with that successfully. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt you have a brown lawn, but I just wanted to point out the longer intervals should work. I think the problem is that was what your lawn was used to pre-Rachio, and when you suddenly switched schedules the lawn couldn’t make the adjustment that fast. Your roots may have been shallow, and there was a sudden change assuming deep roots. There are other issues like lack of detaching that might make it more difficult. If what I’m saying is true and you used to water daily and for short durations drop your root depth setting to something like 3-4 inches, have your landscaper detatch, then apply a fertilizer if the temps are low enough. Make sure you use a fertilizer that is appropriate for this time of year. I applied mine late evening, and the fertilizer was one recommended by Ewing in Chandler. If you’re not careful the fertilizer week burn the Bermuda. It will take a while, but i think the Bermuda will fill back in if you can do this successfully. As it starts to fill in start increasing your root depth gradually, and eventually you’ll get too water every 3 or 4 days.

On the irrigation turning on during the watering, there are differing factors that would cause that depending on the schedule you’re running. Your best bet for what you want to achieve its Flex Daily, but even then it might have happened. I believe that the 100% is based in current conditions, but the determination too water might have been made at an earlier time. Your screen seems to indicate fixed schedules. Do those schedules have Rain Skip turned on, and if they do what is the threshold that you have selected for it?

I agree with you that soil probes would be great. The technology isn’t there yet, at least for large consumer deployment at a reasonable price.

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Ok, let’s get you on track, I don’t like to get long winded so one thing at a time.

Are all of your zones bermuda grass? Or do you have other non-grass zones in the same schedule as your grass? If you have grass and other items like shrubs, etc, then break those items up into their own schedules. So you should only have grass in 1 schedule, and then put shrubs in another schedule.

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Hi guys, thanks for the assistance. Again, I know my issues are beyond just watering. There is no excuse for my crappy landscapers…but I digress…

I have four zones, two front yard Bermuda zones, a back yard Bermuda zone, and all of my drips (front and back) on the last zone.

I uploaded many pictures to OneDrive and added captions. Click on the first photo and you should see the caption at the bottom. From there you can scroll through them.


Again, I thank you all for your help.

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I guess I was just frustrated. I agree this isn’t how it should be, only how the majority of our landscapers operate.

Dumb question @JBHorne, but have you confirmed that the nozzles in the bad areas are in fact giving you a good spray pattern? You certainly have some slopes in your yard, do you have those accounted for in the zone setup? Are you utilizing the “smart cycle” on those zones? That will help with runoff.

Also, have you ruled out a fungus or bug? I notice in this picture your neighbors adjoining yard looks similar.

Also, can you post the details of your zone set-up?

@JBHorne Hey does that owl work to keep critters and birds off your water feature? I always have birds and mice running all over mine like it’s an oasis

I have confirmed that the nozzles are good. In fact, I replaced them all. I have accounted for the slopes in Smart Cycle. Yes, my neighbors yard has the same issue, hence why I’ve thought of a fungus as well. Who would I even contact to have that diagnosed?

I think this may be my first issue before I go about fixing the watering issue.

The owl works for birds at least. Not sure about mice. You have to move it frequently or else they get used to it. Like every 2-3 days. Stops them from shitting and bathing in my waterfall and the spillover between the spa and pool. Otherwise they make a mess.

@JBHorne Years ago, I had a tree growing next to my lawn. Over time, the area of the grass near the shade of the tree started to have problems, and eventually not grow. My landscaper said it was a common problem, and it seems consistent with what I see throughout the neighborhood. I’ve long since removed the tree for that reason, and as it was planted too close to the house anyway. Anyhow, from looking at the pictures shade looks to be the issue that you have in front.


Sorry for the bad news, but that’s my take. I’m no expert of course. For the back yard lawn, what percentage of the day would you say you had shade ? From the article:

If you feel that the far back area gets enough sun, I would guess that you’re not getting the same amount of water on that area as the rest. When it’s running, is there any overspray at the borders, or does it barely get there. Does the water from one head reach the ones adjacent to it ? The real test is a catch cup test, but as you clearly stated you’re fine with hiring this kinda stuff out. I almost contracted it out myself, so I did poke around a bit. When they told me there would be a min. $100 charge I went the DIY route. :wink:

Anyway, look up ‘Chandler Irrigation Audit’, or something similar. I found this one, but it looks like they are for commercial properties. Take a look at the video on their home page to see exactly what I’m talking about.


You might call them, and if they don’t do residential I would think they could refer you to someone that does. You might also contact Ewing Irrigation in Chandler. Ask them if they know somebody that does irrigation audits.

You have some nice shrubbery. I’d recommend having your landscaper pull the dead parts, and also follow this procedure to make sure that your current schedule for anything emitter based is as it should be.

I hope this helps.

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@JBHorne As I drove home today I snapped some examples of other lawns with the shade issue. I think the guy in the second pic must have just given up on having a summer lawn. There are a couple (not pictured) that have trees and look better. The shaded part on those isn’t as nice as the rest, but not bad either. I wonder if they have a different type of turf, or some other magical technique. It’s extremely irritating that landscape designers make plans with lawns and trees that will eventually kill those lawns. Like I said, I’m no expert but it’s what I’ve experienced, and as you can see seems a possibility based on other examples around these parts.

If you can find a turf specialist maybe they can help. Along those lines, they might even be able to do the irrigation audit too.

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Possibilities @JBHorne ? I have no personal experience with any of them.

For the front yard:

I would think these guys would be able to help with the back yard if shade isn’t your issue there but sprinkler coverage is.

@azdavidr brings up a very good point as well. Shade is horrible for Bermuda. Seems as the bermuda ages, it is less tolerant to shade. In looking back at your pictures, you dug a hole, was that in the front yard? From those pictures, there certainly looks to be moisture in the soil.

For the back, if it does get a good amount of sun, I would say you need to take a look at your settings. What you have set for the nozzle on these zones? What did you end up replacing with? Let’s make sure the nozzle you have set up in the zones matches what you are actually running.

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@azdavidr awesome work

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Thanks @Modawg2k. As you know it’s hard to forget those painful turf memories.

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@azdavidr great job! I think you’ve solved it.

Maybe @JBHorne would consider St. Augustine, It’s more shade tolerant.

I can’t count the number of times I have seen landscaping that is doomed to failure. I watched as a neighbor planted a kidney-shaped Bermuda lawn at the base of an older saguaro. Then watched as the saguaro declined over several years. It does take them a while to die.


Good to know!