Lawn keeps drying out -- program complexity reducing utility


#1

The 2016 update has been quite bad for my yard. Early in the season, I tried using the flex schedule. As the temperature started heating up, however, I found that my yard was drying out. Worse, when I looked at the schedule I found that it wasn’t planning to water my yard for another 14 days. So, I went off the flexible schedule and started using fixed schedules.

The fixed schedules mostly work. However, I find that they cause the system to skip on days that just don’t make sense. I live in New Mexico and we’ve had very little rain this year. Though we’ve had a couple good rain days, the rain is mostly spotty. The temperatures have been in the 100 F range and this is further drying out the yards. None-the-less, this morning, the Rachio is still skipping days unexpectedly. This morning, I noticed that it had emailed me that it was skipping the watering on a very dried out section of my yard because “the yard is still drying out.” Well yea. It’s drying out. So dry it’s dead in spots. (This morning, I turned off the “adjust for climate” feature.)

Looking at the forum, I see there are many many things that could affect when and why the Rachio will water the lawn. Unfortunately, the interface makes it very hard to figure these things out or to figure out when the darned thing will water again. I hope the app improves in this matter in future years.


#2

If you provide your setup details the forum might be able to advise how to fix your problem. Soil type , root depth, sprinkler efficiency setting, etc all can be adjusted to dial in your particular micro-climate. Having said that it is not a straightforward process and does requires experimentation.


#3

Are you trying to grow bluegrass or fescue in New Mexico? Or Bermuda grass.
Check your irrigation system’s performance. I’m in Oklahoma City with 100 degree temperatures and things are looking typical for July. I did change Rachio’s default settings for rotors. They use 1 inch per hour which is too high. Entered a custom rotor precipitation rate of .6. Now things are fine and not burning up. Just a few ideas.


#4

@abqmichaelj - Sorry to hear your yard was getting too dry. Glad you were able to remedy this, and I hope any damage done can still be reversed so you can enjoy a healthy lawn/yard.

This is Rachio’s Climate Skip feature in action. If you opt to use Rachio’s Weather Intelligence features, it’s one of four water-saving options that default to “ON”. It sounds like you found the option to turn it off.

We’ve been getting some feedback, similar to yours, lately and will be looking into how to message this more clearly in the app navigation, notifications, and documentation. Changing the default is also an option here.

Thanks for your feedback, and for your patience as we continue to improve items like this.

Best,
~Lucas :rachio:


#5

Can you help with my set up? I put in 10000 sq feet of Emerald Zoysia in June. It has been hot as hades and no rain in north Georgia since I laid it. The grass looks great but I have used 100,000 gallons of water since June 5th. I’ve decided to set my fixed schedule “morning feed” to every 3 days instead of every two. And I’ve decide to set my fixed schedule “afternoon feed” to every two days. The next “morning feed” show July 30th on the calendar which is correct. However, the next date is August 5th. 6 days later! What’s up with that? I DO NOT TRUST FLEX SCHEDULES OR WEATHER INTELLIGENCE. My opinion is to stick to fixed and disable it you think it’s going to rain. This is not set and walk away software.


#6

I live in New Mexico as well and am having the same problem.

I keep bumping up the duration of watering to get more water on the spots, but then flex appears to just space out the watering for the zones in lieu of giving the lawn extra water. It has been nearly 100 degrees everyday for over a couple of weeks and two parts of my lawn are turning brown again.

I am thinking about going back to a manual schedule - at least I know it will get watered on a consistent basis.


#7

jk706, Can you send your setup details for the 2 zones in question?
As to why it shows August 5th instead of July 31st, if you previously disabled weather intelligence then I think the climate skip feature is determining based on your available MAD for the zone, evap rate and forecasted weather, that is the next time to water. It probably will revise that calculation on July 31st before your scheduled watering time and water. But if you disable climate skip it should only always display the proper next fixed schedule time.
Rachio calculations for advanced modes are all done in the cloud server and only once a day, before your set run times, so your app may not display the correct data for the next day if something has happened after this calculation. (At least that is my understanding of how it works)


#8

After I submitted the question I disabled and then re-abled the schedule and that fixed it. Weird. Thanks for the response.


#9

Actually this sounds about right for a warm season turf. My water usage has been similar for U-3 Bermuda in the front and fescue in the back. My yard is the exact size as you. Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. Measured my actual root depth. It is 8 inches. So I changed my root depth.
  2. Increased the efficiency to 90 percent which means less water.
  3. Using an odd even schedule too.

Fortunately we have had rain here in Oklahoma City.
Emerald zoysiagrass is a management intensive grass I guess you know.


#10

Hi edbianc;

The complicated part is really the problem. The current design has the user enter (through a phone app) all sorts of details that are pretty hard to get right. Taking all these parameters, it munges and comes up with an answer that it slowly reveals as your grass either becomes over or under-watered. Then, when you try to adjust for its mistakes, like by having it skip a day or water an extra day, it seems to notice this input, munge on your data, and then add or reduce your watering by as much as your correction.

In addition, sharing my settings with you isn’t easy either. Here, I have to step through the interface and carefully transcribe all the settings I’ve made. Is climate adjust on? What sprinkler type are you setting it to? And so forth. The odds that I could get it all transcribed correctly on one try seems to be about zero. Especially given that if I knew how to get to all the settings, I might get them right.

I think the designers need to re-think this thing.


#11

Hi Lucas

As you start re-designing the system, I suggest you consider incorporating the observation powers of the users. For example, the current system seems to adjust for the user’s adding or skipping days by counteracting for them. User adds a day, climate skip says “oh, now I can take a day off.” What it should really be doing is following the user. Perhaps let the user push a button saying “my yard isn’t getting enough water, please run the sprinkler.” This would tell the system “hey, I think I need to start watering this yard more” and maybe even tell the user what it plans to do. Or the user might push a button saying “my yard is too wet.” The system would tell the user that it will skip today and reduce future watering by xxx.

OR, maybe you could simplify it even further. Give the UI two buttons on each area: One indicates the area is drying out, the other indicates it’s getting too much water. The system would then adjust accordingly.

Because this is all on the cloud, it should be normal to give the user a nice web page for also controlling the system. This would let them see the planned watering schedule and maybe even mark off days that should be avoided. (Like when they plan to fertilize or otherwise use the yard.)

These are all specifics. The general idea is: Let the UI listen to the user.


#12

Instead of a button to say “Too wet” or “Too Dry”, I think a place to manually enter the soil moisture percentage would be ideal. Right now, I can either fill or empty the moisture reading but nothing in between. I think it would really help prevent drying out or over watering if I could manually measure and enter soil moisture readings, and have the app learn from those readings. Just a thought.


#13

I am having similar troubles and am hoping the community might be able to help. My lawn is really dried out and heat stressed. I am running flex schedule. I picked my soil type based on a website from another post in the community. I am basically running defaults from there. Overall I think the frequency of watering is correct but the time per zone seems to be about half of what I would expect based on how my lawn used to look and time settings on my old controller. At times, the controller will even run a short cycle (I am assuming due to field capacity) even though the lawn is very dried out. I have defined my square footage, rotor head nozzle type, and have my root depth at 8 inches. My soil is sandy loam (NJ) based on website above, exposure is lots of sun, slope is slight, available water is 0.11, root depth 6.00, allowed depletion 50%, efficiency 70%. Any suggestions on how to get the watering time to double without changing the frequency. I assume if I just increase the watering time, the frequency will just decrease due to the field capacity. If it matters, I can only water even days. Any help or direction would be appreciated.


#14

To just change watering time without impacting anything else, you can change the nozzle to something that puts down less inches/hour. You could use something existing, or create a custom nozzle to get to the time that you want.

To be more accurate, you could do a catch cup test to get the actual rate that your heads are really putting out. There are several threads in the forums on doing a catch cup test if you have questions.


#15

Thank you for the feedback. I’ll look into how to do a catch cup test.


#16

Catch cup would be the best option, but have you also pulled up your nozzles specs online to see what they are supposed to put out? The “out of the box” nozzles in Rachio are close, but far from perfect.


#17

You are correct. I pulled the nozzle specs up online. Once entered, the zones are now going to run for a more expected length of time. I have my catch cups on order so I’ll do that test once they arrive. In the mean time, the correct nozzle specs will definitely help. Thanks