My drip zones rarely run

I have 8 zones. 1–6 are Cool Season Grass, and run every few days or so, according to the weather.

Zones 7 and 8 are drip irrigations zones supplying a variety of shrubs, flowers, and trees. Since there are many different plants in each of these zones, I set their Zone Type to Shrubs, and Spray Head to Emitter.

The area of Zone 7 is 3670 sq ft and Zone 8 is 1900 sq ft. I set both of their Nozzle Inches per Hour to 0.5.

The problem is that the two drip zones rarely run. They last run on 7/3 (I actually had to run them manually; they hadn’t run at all when we had gone for a 10-day vacation), and they are not scheduled to run again until 7/16. My feeling is that they should run for roughly and hour every day or two; it’s been very hot and dry here (Colorado).

Any suggestions as to why these two zones are not running often enough?


Mixing trees, shrubs and flowers in the same zone is tough. You end up having to water for the vegetation with the shortest roots and needing the water the most often, the flowers. Your best bet with this mixed vegetation is to set up the zones for the flowers. Then you can perhaps add some extra emitters or emitters with more GPH on the shrubs and trees. And both the shrubs and trees may just have to get most of their water from Mother Nature.

Ideally, it would be best to have the flowers on their own zone, the shrubs on another, and the trees on another. Their water needs are just very different from each other


I could choose another type of zone, I guess—but my main question is, why does the zone run so infrequently in any case? Even if I had all shrubs in this zone, two weeks between waterings is clearly far too long. How is the Rachio deciding on this long interval?

The two main factors for shrubs are the default root zone depth (15 inches) and the default crop coefficient (50%) which is how fast they burn moisture (not a lot with 50%). If you want more frequent watering and still want to use flex daily you will need to decrease root zone depth and probably increase crop coefficient. If you modify settings you can immediately go to the soil moisture graph for the zone and see the next two weeks simulated waterings.

If you know what works for your shrubs might want to go to a fixed schedule and still get all the weather intelligence benefits. Here are your current settings:


Here is more information on flex daily schedules and how to adjust


For people with mixed plants and trees in a single zone that don’t have the ability to change it, what do you recommend?

For instance, if you have perennials and trees, you can add a few more drips and maybe half the settings for crop coefficient so you are between each, same with root depth? Does that make sense?

Is that valid advice?

It’s a tough call. The best thing to do is rebuild the zone into specific watering for each crop type. I understand that is a big ask.

This is where I can’t help much. Maybe some other folks that have dealt with this in the past can chime in. I think it’s hard to support watering for vastly different crops with one schedule.


The mix is never a good choice as was aforementioned.

If it were perennials and annuals mixed, you can vary the size of the emitters so that each one gets the amount of water it needs on a fixed schedule.

Trees, on the other hand, need more water and less often than other types of vegetation.
That would only be temporary work around until you could afford to do it properly.

Trees on one valve. Perennials on one valve. Annuals on it’s own valve.

I deal with this on a daily basis. When I see a mix or “Hot Mess” as we call it, I automatically suggest splitting the system to accommodate each type on their own zones.

Rachio, nor any other controller on the market has a “Hot Mess” feature on their controllers. If it is too complicated, I would recommend consulting with an irrigation professional.

The end result will be a healthy landscape that will last you many happy years.