Is Rachio right for strict water scheduling?

I live in Austin Texas and we have very strict water conservation rules. We are only allowed to water our lawns one day a week and only between Midnight and 7am and 7pm to midnight. It’s a $500 fine per violation.
My lawn has 12 zones with very different watering times needed (lawn, flower beds, 2 drip zones). I have estimated the amount of time each zone needs and they vary from 45 minutes to 5 minutes!

For maximum efficiency, I use a water schedule calculator. This results in a schedule with up to 7 cycles per day on some stations. In addition, the schedule changes every month due to seasonal adjustment.

I currently have a very old Hardie controller with 4 “programs” which can be repeated up to 10 times a day. Using a spreadsheet, I can sort of get this to work but I have to reprogram it every month! I would like to automate this. From what I can read about the Rachio, it is great for automatic scheduling which I can’t use and not so great for rigid strict scheduling.

So, has anyone here used the Rachio for Austin’s type of water restricted scheduling? Or is this simply the wrong solution to this problem?

Thanks for any insight into this.

Rachio is just fine for strict watering, but you will want to stick with fixed schedules, as the flex daily doesn’t like restrictions. You do miss out on some of the best features of Rachio, but you still get to utilize some of the weather intelligence features.


@CaptainTivo - there are three types of schedules that Rachio can create - Fixed, Flex Monthly and Flex Daily. All the schedules can be programmed for allowed days. Like @tmcgahey said stick with the Fixed version. I’m north of you and can water twice a week and I run a Fixed schedule. Even though not all the features of the Rachio are being taken advantage of there are some water saving features available in the Fixed schedule that may help such as Rain Skip, Freeze Skip, Wind Skip and Saturation Skip. The Fixed schedule can also do Season Shift each month with may take care of changing the schedules each month. Even if you still need to change the schedule every so often, it is easier on the phone in the A/C rather than potentially outside in the sun at a controller box.


Thanks for the info but it does not really answer my question. At present, I have a “dumb” controller and a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet takes the various watering times for each station and divides each into three periods and spreads the schedule across my allotted watering hours. This way, each station gets one third of its water time at each of three times spread across the hours to allow for soak in time. I have to take the output of this spreadsheet and input it manually into the controller. I have to do this once a month as the season changes.

My question is: can Rachio do this without the spreadsheet or at least can it store 4 different months worth of schedules and let me just switch between the schedules?

Sorry to be so specific but I don’t see enough documentation on the website to answer this question. Come to think of it, why is there no user manual that I can consult to answer questions like these?

@CaptainTivo - as long as the schedules aren’t Flex Daily (only one schedule - not sure about Flex Monthly) there can be multiple schedules for the same zone. I might try a setting up the three Fixed schedules across the watering hours and then let Rachio perform seasonal adjustment and see if that get close to automating the process for you. Or yes, multiple schedules can be put in with dates. There is a limit to the number of schedules that can be loaded (16??).

Hi Captain, I think the Rachio 3 can do what you are attempting. I recently installed one to do 6 zones, 3 lawn only, 2 shrubs only and 1 with both lawn and shrubs (I use the shrubs setting for that zone). I set it up to water on my two allotted days, finish before sunrise and do a pattern as follows: 4 mins on, 30 off, 4 on, 30 off, 4 on, then stop. (You can vary those times for each zone.) Also live in TX north of you. The WI feature estimates how much moisture is in the soil and those estimates show the differences between lawn and shrubs even though the soil for each zone is the same. (If you have different soil in different zones, you can select that as you set up each zone.) I used the Flex Daily schedule to do all this, but I had to call the customer service to help me figure out how to do it. The original agent did not have enough knowledge to help me, but we scheduled a specific call back time for an expert to call me back. He did, we worked it all out and I could not be happier. Once you figure out how to set the program, it is truly set and forget. I must admit that the program is not intuitive…at least not to me. But the customer service folks were very patient with me and my explanations and we figured out how to use all the features AND take advantage of the WI feature. For example, when the schedule was set to run the system the next day. I was sitting at my computer when a downpour happened. I checked my Rachio program a short time later and it had recorded 110% moisture level in all my zones and moved the next run day out into the future. Frankly, because of all our rain lately, the WI has skipped what would have been several wasted sprinklings. But, to me, that is a plus! I think you will be happy with your purchase, if you buy a Rachio 3. Be sure that you have good a wi-fi signal to wherever you will need to install it. But do not be hesitant to call the customer service guys to get them to help walk you through how to program it. Also there are helpful videos on the website, but I did not see them until after I was getting frustrated trying to follow their simplistic quick start manual. They should improve how the program walks you through set up. However, I am a happy camper now and I am convinced this purchase will pay for itself in one summer alone. Hope this helps. :slight_smile:


The bottom line is yes.