Is this right for Flex Schedule?

Hello Rachio Community,

Brand new user here with a Gen 1 controller. Live in Rockwall, TX 25 miles east of Dallas which has Loamy Clay soils. Been in the 100’s or near it for past several weeks. My own set schedule has been working fine and grass and beds are staying hydrated and green etc. 9 zones total, 8 zones of bermuda grass and 1 zone for flower beds and tree bubblers.

Set up my controller over the weekend and proceeded to start with the set up of my zones. All works great so far.

Started to get into the Flex Watering Schedule and I was very hesitant to let it run as it wanted to run approx 40 minutes per zone. I know from past experience that with our soil types locally, run off occurs rather quickly and would certainly be a waste(I think) with a 40 minute per zone starting point.

Is that normal for the system to want to water that much? Got this controller to 1. be able to use smart phone when wanting to start a zone and 2. to hopefully save water. The Flex schedule seems counter to that.

I ended up just setting my own manual times per zone that I had with my older controller.

That run time doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. Just make sure you have smart cycle on and you have correct slope setting. Also, if you have any drip zones make sure they are on a separate schedule, otherwise smart cycle will be disabled. Smart cycle is what is used to prevent run off for clay soils. The controller will split up the run time into separate cycles to allow the soil to absorb the water so it won’t run off. I believe my schedule does 7 minutes of watering followed by a half hour cycle time.

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@vdubtx take a picture of your settings to helps better understand everything going on

OK, maybe I was misunderstanding what it was telling me. With Smart Cycle on, it won’t water all 41 minutes at once, it breaks it up then to avoid run off. In total it shows 41 minutes per zone with exception of my zone 7 which is rotors for larger area that is 1 hr. I have turned off my zones 8 and 9 which are flower bed/tree bubblers.

Total time shows 5 hrs 12 mins for 7 zones.

Just worried I am going to get some ultra high water bill when my manual schedule seems to be working fine. Granted, my 4 days a week watering with ~9 mins per zone is about the same amount the controller is wanting to do in 1 day.

Thanks for the replies.
@Modawg2k - As for pic of settings, do you want to see zone settings or the timer setting that I set up?

Zone 1-3 are all the same slope -

Zones 4-6 are all same slope -

Zone 7

Have not made any changes to advance settings for each so the area/size are all default. Plan on getting that input this week sometime.

Right it will break it up. It will water one zone for the max time before runoff will occur, then it will switch to the next zone and water for the same amount of time etc until it has watered all the zones on the schedule. Once that is done if at least 30 minutes have elapsed since watering the first zone it will start the cycle over and repeat the cycle until the full run time for each zone is reached. Again, just make sure you don’t have any emitter zones on the same schedule as that will disable smart cycle for all zones on the schedule.

Also, its recommended that you do deep waterings infrequently to aid with root development and make the grass more drought tolerant. So one deep watering once a week should be better for the health of the grass than 4 short waterings during the week. Now you just need to make sure you have the correct settings for your zone to make sure the controller’s calculations are correct.

  • How is your grass doing overall? Would you consider it healthy? Do you think it has strong roots that go down the 9" that is the Bermuda default?

Grass is doing well, all things considered. Being so hot right now in Texas the grass is staying green. I think it is healthy, I keep it fed and I think root structure is good, but do not know if it is 9".

Lawn is in it’s 2nd year now. Last year we got a lot of water due to very heavy rains in the spring last year so I think we had good timing in getting it established. This spring we again had good rains.

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I wonder if a 2 year old lawn can get down that far, especially if it’s clawing it’s way through clay… I don’t have clay or a new lawn, so just wondering aloud. The point being, you want to water less frequently like @JPedrego mentioned. This will encourage roots to dig deeper to seek out that water below. With more frequent watering, your roots are fine with just chilling up top, where they can be affected by more issues.

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@vdubtx On Zones 4 & 7 would you take a screenshot of ‘Moisture Levels’, and click on the ‘More details’ underneath to show the table. It will give additional insight that can be checked into.

It’s definitely a good move to go from frequent, shallow watering to deeper, less frequent watering. However, if your yard isn’t quite ‘used’ to that, and the roots aren’t that deep, you might want to make it a gradual process. Showing the moisture graphs as they are now will give us an idea of what the system is trying to do.

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Two things you can look into doing if you really want to try to dial in the settings and save some water while maintaining a great looking lawn

  1. Mason Jar test to actually see what your soil is in your own yard
  2. Catch Cup to measure the actual output of your sprinklers.

A big +1, especially on the Catch Cup test!

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Thanks all. Will look into what the mason jar test is. I know what catch cups are. Will get some and test in the yard.

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Zone 4

Zone 7

Keep in mind, my controller was just installed this past weekend. Not much in the way of history to go by yet.

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@vdubtx Thanks. If you hit the arrow to the right of the dates at the top you should be able to see more.

Will change my manual schedule that normally comes on Wednesday morning and go with a Flexible schedule and see how it goes from there.

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Zone 4 future…

Zone 7

Ah, makes more sense now with those future dates and what it looks for.

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I love the visual representation that the flex daily provides.

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Given that you started with 4 watering days per week, it might be a big jump to go to once every 5 days. You could either give it a shot and watch your lawn carefully for signs of distress, or more conservatively pull the time in. I would consider lowering the Root Depth until you’re watering maybe every 3rd day. My guess is somewhere around 5" maybe? You can check by changing the root depth and checking the moisture graphs again. Once you have that schedule running for a couple of weeks and things are looking good you can start to increase the root depth by an inch at a time.

Given that you have clay @Modawg2k may have merit with the root depth not being able to get to 9". The way to tell for sure would be with a core sample of your roots in case you had something like this. I haven’t bought one as they’re more expensive than I’d like. However, if you had one you could use it now, and sample it over time to see how deep the roots get.

Anyhow, back to the frequency discussion. If you’re wondering how trade-offs are made between the watering duration and frequency of the schedule, I’ve found the Zone Attributes table mid-way down this page to be pretty informative.