Ideas for how to deal with flood irrigation

So, I am lucky enough to have flood irrigation at my house, and I try to utilize it as much as my schedule will allow. I have been trying to figure out the best way to have Rachio work with the flood irrigation while being as hands off as possible (that’s the point of Rachio after all).

Any ideas?

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That is a tough question. Since flood irrigation is pretty rare for landscape irrigation, there would need to be a way to look at acre inches and compute evapotranspiration. The classic flood irrigation i remember seeing is on Central Ave north of Bethany Home Road. Also east on Camelback to some of the older neighborhoods. Tell us about how flood irrigation is scheduled and what it costs.

How long does that water stick around? Do you have mosquito issues?

@robertokc The schedule is roughly every two weeks, but in reality, with my schedule I can only get catch it about once a month…I try to be as diligent as I can in the summer months, and tend to slack off in the winter months. Each time I flood, it costs me about $8. In the summer it saves me a bunch on my water bill. If scheduling doesn’t allow and I have to run my sprinklers, my water bill pushes to $200 a month (normally around $70 if I flood).

@Modawg2k for the most part the water is already gone and my irrigation finished at 2:30pm yesterday. A few low spots still have some standing water, but it is obviously very saturated. My yard drains pretty well since I aerate it every so often. My neighbor a few down from me got water almost 24 hours ahead of me still has a ton of standing water. Even with that, I don’t think we have mosquitos any worse than other areas…

Growing up in Chandler, we flood irrigated our pastures on the same schedule and that grass would be so lush and green! So I know that technically the grass could probably go without supplemental watering (assuming I am in town to get the irrigation), but I have always restarted watering after the first week.

@tmcgahey I’m born and raised here, but that is still so foreign to me. I remember seeing yards that were full of water when I was young, but that was never around where I lived in the north valley.

It does seem strange that we are in one of the most barren areas in the US and we have more water available to us than many places. I was debating on making this post since I thought I’d catch a lot of people upset with the watering technique. I fully understand that flood irrigation is not the most efficient way to water, but man, it is easy and cheap!


It was so common back in the 1960s. I had family in Goodyear and there were canals everywhere. Yes, the Phoenix area is blessed to have a good water supply. For the most part, people there are doing a good job with water use in the area.

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I live in Mesa, Arizona, and have this same question. I have water rights to my property and use flood irrigation supplemented with a city-water-fed Rachio-controlled irrigation system. My zones are configured so that the areas flooded are mostly on separate zones from the rest. Eg, my lawns are in separate groups for the edges of the concave yard and the middle that gets flooded.

We flood 4 separate areas every 2 weeks in summer and once a month in most of the rest of the year.

The Rachio’s automatic scheduling features get my watering needs completely wrong. Weather stations miles away don’t seem to accurately reflect conditions on my property; especially when I add the flood irrigation to the mix. At best, the Rachio gives me remote control without having to go outside to reconfigure my schedule.

Has anyone here added a personal weather station and/or moisture sensors to their system to deal with micro-climates and flood irrigation? If you have, I’d love to learn about what you did and how it is working?

It usually takes a bit over a day for the water to be absorbed, but the flooded ground is more than moist enough to need watering until the next flood irrigation water delivery. I currently have mushrooms growing in the middle of one of my lawns. However, the edges which are higher ground are dry and require additional watering.

I occasionally see mosquitos in small numbers, but they haven’t been much of an issue. The water does attract insects, and arachnids and reptiles that eat the insects.

Sounds like a Fixed (Daily Interval every 14 days etc) or manually run schedule is ideal in your case. The Flex schedule models break down if there’s standing water and soil moisture is completely maxed out. At least, with flooding, I imagine there’d be standing water with direct evaporation. Flex cannot take into account standing water, direct evap, rate of infiltration of saturated soil, etc. So personal experience as you’ve described turned into a Fixed schedule seems most appropriate.

But I could be completely wrong about how flood irrigation works :wink: You might be able to model it by adjusting advanced zone parameters until it matches your expectations for watering frequency & duration under the soil moisture chart? (If you really want Flex to track moisture; probably use Flex Monthly and not Daily)


Well, Rachio has no way of knowing or calculating the water received via flood irrigation, so that makes sense. As for Rachio not watering “right”, define right…Rachio waters right based on the info you have entered into the zone perameters.

As for flood, I haven’t tried this yet, but I plan on trying an IFTTT for gmail calendar so when I have the term “flood irrigation” in my calendar, that it will pause watering of my flood zones for a set amount of time. I haven’t quite decided what that time will be…

I didn’t say anything about watering “right”. I understand that Rachio doesn’t have info about what water has been received via flood irrigation. That’s the problem.

From what I’ve read of people using moisture sensors, Rachio doesn’t support separate sensors for each zone, but instead expects all zones to be similar. This doesn’t seem that it would work for me, unless I set up a totally independent moisture sensor and setup some sort of external system (eg IFTTT) to tell Rachio to water more or less based on the moisture sensor data. I’m curious as to whether anyone else here has done this or found a way to support this within Rachio’s limited sensor support.

I like your idea of setting using IFTTT to look at emails. I may be able set it up to find the delivery schedule notification from SRP and stop watering the flood zones around the delivery time. In summer, the delivery is frequent enough that totally stopping the water for the flood zones is usually ok. (I still water the high-ground perimeters of the flooded areas.)

Having family members who lived in Phoenix during the early 1960s, I know they received water delivery on a canal schedule. I’m not sure that Rachio is the best fit since you have no sprinkler system. It’s a disconnect for me. Do you hook up to the weir or gate that floods your landscape. I would just be thankful you still have flood irrigation capability in the desert. Does Salt River Project charge you for the water? Do they measure how much water you take?

I live on property that used to be farm land. I have rights to the water that the Salt River Project delivers to me via canal. I pay SRP a small annual fee for delivery of the water; not for the water. The water is delivered via canal to my neighborhood every 2 to 4 weeks except during an annual winter maintenance period. There is local plumbing (owned collectively by the property owners) that feeds water throughout the neighborhood from the canal. Each property owner places an order for a specific number of minutes of water flow for each delivery – up to a limit that is based on the size of the property. SRP then publishes a schedule telling each property owner when to open and close their valves to receive their water.

I use the flood irrigation to water lawns and some of my trees. I supplement the flood irrigation with a Rachio-controlled city-water-fed sprinkler and bubbler irrigation system. The flood irrigation doesn’t provide water to the higher ground on my property and I’m not always able to take delivery of the flood irrigation when it is scheduled.

I’d like to be able to better automate the determination of when, where, and how much irrigation is required to supplement the flood irrigation.

Very interesting stuff. You are fortunate to have this. I do not have an answer other than installing a soil moisture sensor. Even a cheap soil moisture sensor bought at a garden center can be fairly accurate on soil moisture. Maybe a turf extension specialist at the University of Arizona in Tucson could help you. There might be some UA fact sheets on the extension service website, too.

I just got my irrigation this Friday and forgot to set up my IFTTT experiment. I’ll have to try it next round…