How to compensate for zones that receive less rainfall?

Hi All,

Not sure if this best belongs as support or product feature request, but here goes…

After the first wet winter in CA in a long time, it was great watching how little water was used for landscape watering, thanks to Rachio (and Flex scheduling). However, I noticed that while the system did a great job including the benefit of precipitation in moisture levels on zones like lawns that received all the rain that fell, some zones like foundation plantings started to wither. Not surprisingly, my foundation plantings are partially sheltered from rain by my roof overhang, so while they might pick up some moisture, I think Rachio over-estimates the moisture level for these zones (very understandable).

It feels like there’s a missing Advanced setting to compensate for “rain efficiency” - essentially the same way that the normal “efficiency” setting works for sprinkler distribution. I’m sure the Rachio development team has a crazy-deep backlog, so I’m curious if there’s a workaround to the issue that still allows me to benefit from rain in most zones, but prevents issues with dying plants or expansive soil shrinkage in areas somewhat sheltered from rain. Perhaps Flex isn’t the best answer for these zones?



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@hikeonpast - Here is a knowledgebase article that will explain some of the levers that can tweak Flex Daily schedules ->

The article recommends changing the crop coefficiency. Increasing the number will increase watering frequency. And, I’d recommend small (increase the coefficiency value by 10 or less) adjustments to see how that plays. I’m not sure if you’d have to continue to adjust this through the summer months (hotter and drier) or it one can get it dialed in here in the next month or so.

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Thanks, @DLane. It looks like changing crop efficiency is a way to make Flex schedules water more frequently. To be clear, the issue is not with watering frequency when there’s no rain - things work quite well when there’s no precip. The issue is that the additional moisture from rain is over-counted in zones that are sheltered from rain, causing them to be under-watered when there is periodic rain because Flex assumes that all zones get the same amount of rainfall.



Yeah I don’t think there is a really good way of accounting for this in flex scheduling. You may just need to switch these over to a fixed schedule and maybe increase the threshold for a rain skip so that it only skips watering if you get enough rain that the zone will get enough water even with the sheltering.

Hi @hikeonpast-

I think both @DLane and @JPedrego posed great solutions, either way you are right in saying there isn’t a perfect solution for this scenario. My only other recommendation, which is a little more involved, would be to keep an eye on those plants after rainfall. They should dry out more quickly, and once you think they are looking like they need water, go ahead and empty the moisture level on those zones. Again, more involved, not a perfect solution either, but this option may “waste” the least amount of water. Regardless, I see the value of this setting on a zone, and will get your request logged :slight_smile:

McKynzee :rachio:

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Put the plants that don’t get rained on a separate schedule then turn off the rain skip for that schedule under weather intelligence.

The problem is that this negates the ability to use the flexible daily schedules which is the most intelligent and water saving type of schedule that I bought a Rachio for (and to replace my weatherTRAK unit). Not being able to set a zone that doesn’t receive 100% of the usable rainfall is a huge hole and was something that my much older weatherTRAK unit did without issue.

The other schedules adjust for weather conditions as well. You could make a daily schedule for the covered plants, turn off the rain delay but keep the weather adjustments.

They don’t adjust as often and don’t respond as actively to weather. It’s really a pretty glaring omission and it also gets annoyingly kludgy to have to have two different schedules in order to overcome a shortcoming in the software.

@hikeonpast This is another interesting scenario. As we all have seen, there are a lot of them. I think your situation, like others, will benefit from fine tuning the characteristics of the zone to get the desired result to satisfy your need. For example: If your setting for the sheltered plants is partial shade, change it to full sun. You’ve got to make the controller think that area is drying out really fast. If this zone is mixed with full and partial sun, that is a whole other challenge.

Others have posted options to get you started. You have enough experience and confidence with the Rachio to do the fine tuning. The controller is only as smart as the settings/input it’s given. And there is always going to be a scenario that poses a challenge.

Yea the controller is only as smart as the settings/input its given but in this instance it doesn’t allow for a pretty crucial input. My last smart controller that got weather based on the old pager network had a great way to input this where you could put in useable rainfall as a percentage so if it was covered by trees you could give it part of the rainfall or just choose 0% for something under cover. And the area that I have is actually partial shade and partial sun… As it works now I can only do a monthly flexible and disable rain delays and then the rest of the zones can then be on the more intelligent daily flexible… It works but it would be nice to be able to keep things simpler and have one schedule and just configure the zones for rain…

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I guess perspective varies. To me it makes sense to group the plants with different watering needs into separate schedules so you can adjust them together. Must be tough with so many variables for everybody’s different garden.

When only one schedule can water at a time and I have no idea what days the flexible daily will water on or how long it will run it makes things less convenient to have multiple schedules. Honestly multiple schedules is kinda a dumb controller throwback. You should just be able to let the controller manage it and be able to simply give a start time and a don’t water on these days concept and it should just manage everything automatically for you in a fashion so well done that you never have to think about it.

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@Brett I believe that is the ultimate goal. I think the problem is most of the irrigation systems up till now have not been installed according to each hydrozone around the house. They were initially installed to water multiple areas at the same time that had different water needs.

Irrigation systems now days are better designed with each hydrozone in mind, so a new system could be managed well for a while by the controller according to the inputs. We know though that this will change. The home sells to new owners, new landscapes get installed, plant/tree growth ensues and the dynamics create chaos again in water consumption and zone character. Zones that used to get full sun are now full shade…

…and here we are.

I’m not privy to that history and just know how my system is setup. I’d just done the research to install the right MP rotators to cover my zones and I started with the WeatherTRAK smart controller that just took care of things and I never had to think about it. I’m only now using Rachio because I was forced to it from WeatherTRAK going out of business. WeatherTRAK used the old pager network. Each controller was essentially a pager and they’d use the pager network to send the ET data to the unit once a night. It would then scale that for your zones based on the data you gave it and everything worked pretty well.

The only real issue is that it only got data once a day and because of that it would sometimes miss overnight rain and what not. Thus a simple rain sensor was a helpful thing to actually prevent watering in the AM if it rained over night and that wasn’t communicated to the unit unit the next evening… Right now it really seems that the ability to say what percentage of the rain is usable on a per zone basis is a pretty short sighted omission. Because if something is covered by really dense trees often not much water gets to that area but not zero…

So you are upset that the more simple schedules don’t respond to weather yet you want zones to ignore weather?

You don’t want to use multiple schedules because they are inconvenient to mess with but you’d like to set it up once and forget about it?

I think how the controller models every yard is going to vary in implementation. Your yard isn’t going to care as long as it gets water when it needs it. I struggle too with all the variables in soil, heads and plant types to get the right watering times.

Actually the more simple schedules do respond to the weather but they have other major limitations such as not responding as often. However the most intelligent of the schedule types has no option to not respond to only a specific part of the weather (rainfall). Essentially I have some planters that are under an eave and so I need them to be watered dependent on the weather (temp, humidity) but not prevented from being watered if there is rainfall.

Its not the inconvenience so much of the multiple schedules just the fact that they don’t really allow for running multiples at the same time very well from what I understand and its somewhat sad that their response for missing a fairly simple feature is to essentially turn off most of what makes the controller smart.

I realize all implementations are going to be different but failing to have a way to inform the controller that a particular zone only receives a percentage of the useable rainfall is a pretty glaring issue. Things like watering inside of a greenhouse, under an eave, or beneath heavy tree coverage are fairly common types of scenarios.

Not to mention that they have stated that they see it as a good idea and that they are going to take it into consideration but we’re coming up on a year since they announced the beta of v3 and still there is nothing but crickets on that front. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to realize that new software is probably not going to be coming out of Rachio.

I am a beta tester for v3 but not allowed to really comment on what it contains. I can tell you that V3 does exist and is actively being worked on.

My advice to everyone is to keep tweaking what you have so the lawn stays green in the meantime.

Interesting to hear that it at least exists. I’ve never seen such a long beta time.