How to green up lawn on Flex schedules?

I’ve been running Flex schedules since he release and I feel that my lawn is a bit browner than it could be. I have cool season grass and it’s been hot, but many neighbors (not all) have healthier-looking lawns.

My question is, what is the best way to adjust what the Iro is doing when on Flex schedules? I don’t know much about irrigation and may have a non-optimal sprinkler setup, etc. Maybe I could do catch cups and make sure all my advanced settings are correct, but I’d like to be a bit lazy about this, if I can.

So I guess my real question is what is the easiest way to adjust what the Iro is doing on Flex schedules?

There are the more/less adjustments per zone, though it seems like that would just increase the amount of time per watering. If more water is applied, that would increase the amount of time between waterings, so it would be the same overall amount of water applied to the lawn. Is that correct?

If that’s the case, maybe I could get more water to the lawn by dialing down the “efficiency” metric in the Advanced zone settings? Would that apply more water overall? Or would that just increase watering spacing, too?

What is the intended way for users to make Flex schedules apply more or less water to a lawn?

Same here, my lawn also appears to have become a bit more brown… my neighbor has a much greener lawn (albeit several years older, mine is 1 year in front, less than 1 in the back) - he also waters considerably more often than I have been so that may be a factor too…

One thing that I did was to decrease the root depth to 4" - did some soil probe tests and it seems that my roots are still pretty non-existent (4" may even be high) as the soil sample routinely breaks apart… I’m interpreting this as there’s not much of a root network in there to hold it together; I’ll see some small thin little clusters down below 3" or so but for the most part, there aren’t any long roots that I can really see…

I also adjusted the allowed depletion down to 30% - combined, these two actions cut my watering time in half and increased the frequency…

My thinking right now is water like this and see if my lawn becomes greener… if so, keep it that way for a bit and then maybe increase the allowed depletion back to 50% slowly… I expect my roots will take longer…

Rachio - any thoughts on this approach?


1 Like

Have you applied fertilizer this year? I would assume so considering this is a new lawn. I like applying milorganite or other nitrogen and iron containing fertilizers. I also purchased a tow behind agrifab core plug aerator (after renting a back-breaking manual one earlier this year). I have 4.5 acres.

I found the best way to increases total irrigation is to decrease the allowed depletion (I started at 20% and only recently started upping it). This approach is all “recorded and accounted for” by the iro so next week they are going to add a reset button to the zone moisture levels. This will let you catch up without being penalized in the future.

This will help with determining appropriate irrigation run times, but won’t affect watering frequency.

The more/less adjustment per zone only affects the duration of watering for each time the flex schedule runs, it does not affect the watering frequency.

This is the nozzle efficiency and when increased watering time goes down, and when decreased watering time goes up. This does not affect watering frequency. if you truly just want an increased watering time, I would just use the more/less adjustment on the flex schedule for each zone. This has the least amount of side effects on other factors in flex schedules.

There are two sides to this question, applying more/less water when running, and the watering frequency.

To start simple, I recommended using one or two zones, get them dialed in, then apply to the rest of the yard, but that is just a recommendation.

To really dial-in, this article helps

To make flex schedules water more/less frequently the easiest lever (without understanding/measuring root zone depth or soil available water capacity) is probably ‘Allowed Depletion’ (Zone --> Advanced Settings).

To see the immediate affect, you can modify a value above and then look on the watering calendar to see our prediction for next waterings/durations.

…and to finish, if your initial settings are not correct (soil, grass type, nozzle type) than the system won’t perform as well as it could with better input data. Garbage in, garbage out :wink:

[] can help make sure you have the correct settings applied.

Hope this helps.


Lower root zone depth will decrease watering time, but increase the watering frequency since the root can hold less moisture the shorter it is.

Yes, that sounds exactly right :wink:

I like this approach, I wouldn’t move too many levers at once.

This explains all of the levers and what they do

Hope this helps!


Yes, next week we will have the ability to reset, or fill up, any zone moisture level. It could help in the cases stated above where maybe they want to add a few extra watering cycles manually, then clear the moisture graph so flex schedules can take over again.


Yes, I have a landscaper managing it - he’s applied it three times so far this year (late April, mid-June and mid-July)

So would you say that this is how I would go about forcing the grass to establish deeper roots? Get it green and healthy looking, then slowly make the transition from more frequent shallow waterings to less frequent deeper waterings? Any suggestions on how slowly to increase the MAD setting?

Interesting. That’s good to know. I read the article, but I would have thought that the extra water would add more factor into the evapotranspiration equation and spread out watering as a side effect.

I played with this on the web, increasing one zone to 200%, leaving an equivalent zone the same. I was surprised to see that the forecasted irrigation amount is the same for both zones. I would have thought with double the watering time, the Moisture Levels graph would show double the irrigations inches each watering.

Is this right?

I think that this is a bug right now and that Rachio knows - hopefully, will be fixed soon…

I would have thought that increasing the duration (and thus the water applied) would affect frequency, albeit indirectly… after all, if I put down more water, doesn’t it take longer to empty the bank via ET?

1 Like

The more/less adjustment adjusts watering from -50%, -25%, 0, 25%, 50% increments on the zones in the flex schedule.

Unclear on what was increased by 200%?

So, this is an attempt to abstract or hide some of the complexity behind flex schedules. The adjustment is actually a multiplier against your original watering duration. The system records the irrigation event amount the same as if there were no multiplier. Without this, we would need to assume everyone wants to learn about all of the different levers/dials and have them start modifying them, and that just isn’t the case. I still think we can do a better job of making it simpler, but the issue is there are so many permutations of variables in a given yard, it’s difficult to account for every unique case.


By increased “TO 200%” I meant increased “BY 100%” (doubled). I set it to max increase, which I guess I really meant increased by 50%. The duration per watering doubled, so I thought max meant 100% increase.

That’s actually what I wanted to have happen with that adjustment - a very simple overall increase of water to the lawn. I just didn’t understand how that would factor in with the underlying Flex schedule calculations. I think it’s a good feature, but may need a bit more documentation or different wording to help out the half-knowledgeable like me (sometimes half-knowledgeable is more dangerous than completely ignorant!).

Ya I understand. Still trying to find the right balance between too many controls versus simplicity. I think if we also added an adjustment that modified watering frequency that would be very helpful.


1 Like

there are soooooo many thing that can effect this. if you put out ammonium nitrate or urea nitrogen this can burn the grass if inadequate amount of water are applied. most cool season grasses do not handle these salts very well either so that can cause browning.

what is your ph and is it in range of your grass’s requirements?
is your cation exchange too low so nutrients leach through the soil to quickly to be absorbed?
keep in mind, nitrogen will green up a grass very well, but it requires iron to catalyze the chlorophyll production so if your grass is anemic, nitrogen will do very little for greening and just spur elongated growth (you can identify this as the grass will have a whitish color).

you might want to test for hydrophobic soil conditions as well. you can look this up on the googles and read about testing it with an eye dropper.

you could also have a fungus. large patch, take all patch, brown patch to name a few spread fast and can sometimes look like the grass is burning up.

if you get up real early in the morning, can you see what look like spider webs all over? if so, go check one and see if touching it very very lightly causes it to “disappear”, if so, those could very well be mycelium and indicate a fungal issue (if you think this is the case, i like heritage G or a daconil product with a good surficant).

these are just to name a few that i have experience with in my own yard.

so, im curious, what type of grass do you have and can you answer the ph and ion index question?
i recommend turfpath for tracking fungal growth on golf courses across the nation and i recommend pace turf for watching phds discuss turf issues and remedies, you have to subscribe to their service for up to date info, but i find their youtube videos to be a great jumping point to other videos by mica and company.

1 Like

It just seems to me that Iro should track whatever amount of water is put down or not put down… if I tell Iro to double-up the water via the Flex schedeule, it doesn’t track this increased amount of water added; however, if I added the same amount of water via a Manual execution, it would track this water…

I was discussing this with support (Zach Hankel) and he indicated to me that it seemed like this was a bug?

It is currently working as was designed. If we were to start offsetting the amount applied, my fear is that it would dramatically impact the next time watering, either increasing or decreasing the frequency considerable amounts, since we use a checkbook analogy per zone.

For now, we are listening to any/all feedback for future enhancements. :wink:


Maybe I’m not understanding its intended function? Since you mentioned the checkbook analogy, how is adjusting the water applied (either up or down) not messing up the checkbook? After all, if I put down 1" of water but Iro only tracks 0.5" of water, isn’t the checkbook “off”?

The water adjustment level was just meant to help user’s apply more/less water under the assumption their watering frequency was correct (yard needed a certain amount more/less irrigation), but did not want to adjust other aspects.

At some point I do want to incorporate an abstract adjustment that modifies watering frequency.


1 Like