I live in Arizona. Everything is dying on the Flexible Schedule

Hi - I live in Phoenix, where we have been experiencing 110+ degF days for over a month now.

I installed new Rachio system about 2 months ago, and I have been running the Flex schedule with Smart Cycle.

Almost everything in my yard is stressed out, and my Bermuda grass is effectively dead.

I have emitters for plants and trees, and in-ground sprinklers for my grass. My plants & tress are set up for Clay Loam soil, and my grass is Sandy Loam. I left everything else on defaults.

Apparently, that wasn’t good enough.

Can anybody in a similar climate give me some suggestions on settings?

I really don’t want to lose my yard - if it isn’t too late already. :sweat:

@AzJazz There are several of us on these boards from Phoenix, with vegetation that is doing well. A good starting point is to attach screenshots of all of your zone settings, including the advanced settings, showing numbers like available water, root depth, etc… Also give us an idea of the vegetation types that you have.

Also list what you are using for nozzles on each zones, and the associated “precipitation rate” (pr) listed in/hr.

Hi, @azdavidr - Thanks for getting back to me!

I believe that all my emitters are approx. 1 gal/hr.

My summer grass is the standard Bermuda grass for our area (BOB Sod, back when the ballpark used to be called Bank One Ballpark), I’m not sure if there is much left at this point.

For shrubs/plants, we have a variety - Texas sage, bush Lantanas, a rose bush (in shade), some tall green shrubs I don’t know the name of - it doesn’t flower, and the green leaves are all on the exterior.

For cacti, we also have a variety - Various agave, yucca Thompsonii, Hercules Aloe, Mexican Honeysuckle, Cereus Monstrosa, etc.

Our trees are mostly Mesquite (YUK!) and Sonoran Emeralds.

Here are some screenshots of my current settings:

Let me know if you need more information …



For the grass you will probably need to put down some catch cups so you can measure your actual precipitation rate and efficiency. Flex requires accurate information to properly determine the appropriate schedule and these settings could vary greatly depending on your configuration. How is your grass section shaped? Also, do you know the type of nozzles and sprinkler heads you have on the grass?

For the shrubs, the schedule is probably not watering for long enough, 1 gallon/hour emitters would probably require you to water for a looong time just to water deep enough depending on how big your shrubs are and how spaced the emitters are. You should change the root depth to 24 inches, that’s what is suggested for shrub roots.

Would you mind also taking snapshots of the schedules and maybe your moisture graphs to know how long and how often the schedules run?

@AzJazz. What led you to use Clay Loam? Have you looked up your soil type on the Web Soil Survey site? Mine showed Sandy Loam. I spoke to a soil specialist and although I haven’t tested with them yet, they also said that something like 85% of Phoenix is Sandy Loam. That setting, and the associated default of a 0.2 available water content will result in much longer times between watering than your vegetation can withstand, if that’s indeed not your type.

For the lawn, your crop coefficient seems low for Bermuda. I don’t recall the default, but I thought it was higher. You might check what the default is supposed to be for warm season grass. How often is your lawn being watered?

If you’re using the default rotors, I can almost guarantee you they aren’t putting down 1"/hr. I did a catch cup test and mine give me .3". Check that and create a custom nozzle.

.65 is the default for warm season. I have the same coefficient for my zones.

Given @JPedrego 's comment the lawn issue I think the next step would be to check the precipitation rate (PR) per @Dkd114’s comment. If you have a higher PR for your zone than the nozzles are really putting out, you will be watering less than you should. What kind of nozzles do you have? Others here might be able to share the expected PR if different from default. The most accurate way to check is @JPedrego’s suggestion of running a catch cup test.

I agree completely with these comments as well. How long do your shrubs get watered and how often with your current settings?

Is there a guide on how to do this? I’ve followed recommendations of others in the forum on my soil type, root depth, etc. but have not yet put any cups out in my zones. I too am running Flex Schedule and it’s now consistently 95F here. Thanks.

Hi @AzJazz, I’m in Phoenix also and our yards sound pretty similar. I have a great looking lawn for the first time this year using the Rachio and ‘eh’ shrubs (I’m still working on that).

Unless the grass has been getting nothing, it’s not dead, so you’re in luck there. It may have some shallow roots and will more than likely not reach full potential before the end of the season but it can still look good.

Clay anything out would be hard on plants. Clay is saying that your soil really holds onto water well, which isn’t th case for us. If your soil is like mine (sandy loam, AW of 0.12), you’ll see the ground gobbles up the water pretty fast, and after a day the top inch or two is pretty dried out.

Until you do more specific test, I would go to Sandy Loam.

For crop coeffecient on bermuda, @azdavidr, @JPedrego both talked about 0.65, but mine are set at 0.73. I just created a new zone via the ios app and it defaults to 0.73. But this information doesn’t seem to be reflected in the support documents online.

For roots depth on bermuda, I would bump it up to maybe 6". 9" is for good roots, and sounds like you might not have that since the grass is struggling.

Keep the convo going in this thread and we’ll get you on track

Don’t worry about killing Bermuda grass, AKA devil grass. You can poison it, dig it up, set fire to it and somewhere, lurking just below the surface is a rhizome or a stolen hiding behind another plant, just waiting to spring back to life.:smile:

I have been fighting this nasty stuff in my herb garden for a couple of years. Pulling and digging it have only worked for a short time.

(I’m glad this is a forum, cause otherwise I would have to duck the things @Modawg2k and @azdavid would be throwing at me about now.)

This is the guide I use:

I know that orbit has their own guide out there as well. If you google their catch cups it should come up.

They still list 0.65 as the default in their docs. I did do a quick search and I saw values varying from 0.65 up to 0.80. I might bump mine up now.

I’m actually at 0.8 right now, but it’s temporary. I detatched and fertilized. I read that the process of detatching accelerated growth, so I pumped up the coefficient for a bit. It seems to be working as the areas that were previously brown are filling in nicely. In another week or so I’m going to be dialing the crop coefficent back down gradually, until I get back to around 0.65 if I can push it that low. I found this where @Franz also mentions 65%. I know they recently increased the Cool Season default to 0.8.

By the way @AzJazz, if you haven’t dethatched in a long time that might be part of the problem with the lawn, assuming we confirm that your settings are reasonable.

@sunny Last year we pulled our back yard Bermuda and replaced it with artificial turf for the dog to do his thing. That was only after a few heated discussions where my wife thought it was going to be too hot for the dog. It hasn’t been.

I’ve wanted to Xeriscape the front lawn for years, but my daughter somehow convinced me to wait until she goes to college in a few years. She somehow also convinces me to put up XMAS lights when I don’t want to.

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When the kids were small most of the backyard was St. Augustine. We have a corner lot that is fairly large, so that meant a lot of water and mowing. The lawn reached under the swing set and trees in an L-shape. The swings are long gone and about six or seven years ago, the tree house was taken down. We absolutely loved the fact that the neighborhood kids played in our backyard, as many in the neighborhood didn’t have the great play space. At the time it served it’s purpose.

Most of that play area has been vegetable gardens for many years now. We have managed to get our lawn down to just 960 square feet. The front has always been xeriscape. When we had this house built, Hubby looked at the front yard and said, "No way in h*** am I mowing a space that big.

The lawn that’s left allows us to host dinners and entertain outdoors, but I really would like to put in artificial turf in that area. It is next to the pool area that has a some desert-adapted plants, some roses and two mature citrus trees.

Any tips or user experience you want to share would be greatly appreciated!

We’ve only had ours one year, but it has perfectly suited its purpose. The only advice I can think of is relative to the up front homework. We asked for samples of several turf types as some look more natural than others. It also has a 10 year warranty, which is good to know given the expense. Finally, pick an experienced installer. Ours was part of a larger landscape remodel. I could tell that things like the designer thinking about seam placement (if any) meant they had done it a few times. They have to prepare the surface under the sod carefully and compact it well and evenly. There are several turf places in town that specialize in it and I’m sure have installers.

I guess there is one other thing. Start saving as it’s not cheap! However I definite have lower water bills now, and what was pulled was only about 600 sq.ft. With the Rachio Flex schedules and learning about proper irrigation techniques here, I’m hoping to optimize the rest of my watering to save even more.

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@Modawg2k Here’s a screenshot from Android. Weird. Maybe it’s different since Apples have a higher Kc? :wink:

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