How are drip zones scheduled

I live in Florida and I believe UF has said that if you’ve got beds with shrubs and plants that you’re best served by “frequent” but “shallow” waterings using drip irrigation. I’ll have to research that a bit more (memory is foggy).

This stands in stark contrast with their recommendations for watering St Augustine grass where “infrequent” but “deep” waterings are preferred to encourage deep root growth and thus drought tolerant grass. I know this for sure, no need to research any more.

So my question is how does Rachio schedule my drip zones? From my observations it would seem it is watering my beds in the same fashion as my grass. Perhaps this is “wrong”?

Someone needs to confirm but I’m pretty sure it is based on the vegitation. For my annuals the watering is mor shallow than my scrubs, as I would expect. I don’t think it is a recommendation for the irrigation device as much for the vegitation being irrigated.

You’re right it is absolutely about the vegetation. I’m under the impression, perhaps incorrectly, that shrubs (makes up most of my beds) need more frequent and shallower watering than my grass but Rachio is giving my shrubs the same treatment as my grass.

When I get some time I will research the water requirements but I am thinking I may be better off with a fixed schedule for my beds/drip zones than I am with the flex schedule.

I’m a huge proponent of flex schedules.

You can adjust the flex to dial it where you need it…just not straight forward at first glance.

For one of my 4 drips:
I kept the default .5 emitter because I use a mixture of .5-4gph emitters in the same zone and this feels cozy.
I set my root depth to 10 inch to decrease my runtime (+/- was out of range).
I set ad to 85% to decreased the frequency of waterings.

So my zones run for 37-45 minutes 1 day a week (spring) to 2-3 days a week (nasty summer) and I’m ok with that, it’s better than my pro c. A single zone has conifers and hydrangeas so most of the adjustments are made at the plant with a different emitter.

But I like using flex here because it tracks transevap and that gets me closer to a constant runtime with +/- frequency versus +/- runtime with constant frequency. I feel this accommodates Mother Nature better as the water she sprinkles has to transevap off as well versus waiting for a rain sensor to dry out. E.g it rains 2 days before the scheduled run, fixed runs if the rain sensor is dry. Flex will mostly likely push the next scheduled run back 3-5 days (terms and conditions may apply).

Plus it it interesting to watch how the zones’ watering times march out of sync with each other. my old pro c would have blown to pieces trying to get that type of schedule setup.


I’d also like to add one thing, the constant run times is a big deal to me because increasing the runtime increases the likelihood that water will run off if you are already watering to capacity. This is why I like the trsnevap method because once my capacity has reached a level low enough,it waters back up to capacity and I know The water is not running off away from the rootball.

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@EdLaFave, good question. Are you using Fixed or Flex schedules? Fixed schedules are created using ET values and the zone attributes entered on a zone by zone basis. Flex schedules are calculated using soil moisture balance calculations using the zone attributes selected on a zone by zone basis (in particular vegetation type, soil type & nozzle type).

Pending the vegetation selection you have for grass & shrub zones, the root zone depth might be roughly the same. The default root zone depth for common vegetation types is below:

  • Cool Season Grass: 6 inches
  • Warm Season Grass: 9 inches
  • Perennial: 10 inches
  • Shrubs: 15 inches
  • Trees: 25 inches
  • Xeriscape: 5 inches

Assuming the soil type if the same for each zone, then I’d recommend decreasing your Allowed Depletion to 20-30% so that the schedule runs more frequently and for a shorter duration.

I hope this helps. If you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Best, Emil

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