My lawn is dying

I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. My lawn was getting over watered when I had it set to water 7 mins everyday. I got the rachio hoping to reduce my water usage and help my lawn. I’ve had my rachio setup for about 3 weeks now and its almost completely killed my lawn. It’s pretty much 80% yellow now. I started manually watering it to try and revive it, not sure what I need to do to fix this. I went through the geological survey site and thought I set my soil and nozzles correctly. Any ideas?

Hi @Tricon, thanks for reaching out. We never like to hear of lawns dying! Let’s review your setup and see what’s going on.

Just curious, were you using a Fixed or Flex schedule?

Could we get some photos? Sounds like there might be some sprinkler coverage issues, or an activated rain sensor that won’t allow the schedule(s) to run.

Are the sprinklers running properly when operated manually?

That’s great! The better data the Iro has about your lawn, the better decision it will make. I’ll review your account on our end this afternoon and see if anything stands out as a potential problem. Will be in touch.

Best, Emil

Thanks Emil, my sprinkler coverage should be fine as my lawn has been green and healthy for many years on a rainbird simple timer.

There no rain sensor and its currently on a flex schedule. It runs like once a week for 12mins or so. I tried playing with the settings ths week to better understand whats causing the whole thing to turn yellow.

I’ll see if I can get pics tonight when I get home!

How many zones does your system have? In reviewing your account, it looks like 2 zones were named and configured, but all 8 are enabled. Your zones are setup as follows (vegetation/soil/exposure/nozzle/slope)

  1. Front garden beds: (perennial/clay loam/lots of sun/fixed spray/flat)
  2. Zone 2: (cool season/loam/lots of sun/fixed spray/flat)
  3. Front Lawn: (cool season/clay loam/lots of sun/fixed spray/flat)
  4. Zone 4: (cool season/loam/lots of sun/fixed spray/flat)
  5. Zone 5: (cool season/loam/lots of sun/fixed spray/flat)
  6. Zone 6: (cool season/loam/lots of sun/fixed spray/flat)
  7. Zone 7: (cool season/loam/lots of sun/fixed spray/flat)
  8. Zone 8: (cool season/loam/lots of sun/fixed spray/flat)

Watering durations are currently scheduled as follows:

  1. Front garden beds: 23 mins (last watered 12/18; next watering forecasted 12/31)
  2. Zone 2: 24 mins (last watered 12/5; next watering forecasted 12/31)
  3. Front Lawn: 41 mins (last watered 12/18; next watering forecasted 12/31)
  4. Zone 4: 24 mins (last watered 12/5; next watering forecasted 12/31)
  5. Zone 5: 24 mins (last watered 11/22; next watering forecasted 12/31)
  6. Zone 6: 24 mins (last watered 11/22; next watering forecasted 12/31)
  7. Zone 7: 24 mins (last watered 11/22; next watering forecasted 12/31)
  8. Zone 8: 24 mins (last watered 11/22; next watering forecasted 12/31)

Looking at your account, it appears the vegetation settings and/or nozzle settings for some zones might be throwing off your watering durations. Flex schedules work by calculating the soil reservoir that needs to be filled, and refills this anytime it hits allowed depletion. A good analogy is a gas tank; the soil reservoir determines how big of a gas tank each lawn zone has (based on the vegetation and soil selection) and allowed depletion is your gauge; we default to refilling at 50% (or half a tank). There’s many moving parts to Flex schedules and we’re exploring ways to make the setup process easier. If you haven’t yet, I’d recommend checking out this support article on how to fine tune your zones to achieve the Flex schedule durations you desire.

Alternatively, we can setup a Fixed schedule that will water on a schedule you determine.

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I use all 8 zones, I just started naming some. The front lawn is the one that is almost completely yellow and dying. I was playing around trying to figure out what all the options meant and how they affect he run time/frequency.

I guess I’ll just have to set a normal timer. Bummer. I was excited to use the flex schedule. But it seems like I can’t figure out how to make it not kill my lawn.

@Tricon, okay thanks for clarifying.

Which zones are in the front yard?

I’d be happy to work with you to adjust and configure the zones via support. Just send an email to and we can dig into the details.

Thanks, Emil

Support ( can help dial in flex scheduling. As an aside we are taking another pass at scheduling in general to make flex and other parts of the application much simpler. This will be released in time for Spring.

Just wanted to let you know we are listening :wink:


Just curios if you could post a pic or 2 (up close for one, use macro shot on camera, indicated by the flower), it’s a long shot but if you are still watering this time of year, could you have a blight setting in, like Pythium blight. Or

What zone are you in and what grass type is it, that will help eliminate a pest issue as this quote leads me in this direction

That is a good way to setup turf for fungal invasion when the temp range is right.

Another question, it appears that Emil indicates you setup your heads as spray heads, if they are spray heads could your zone efficiency be set too high?

your front yard runs for 41 minutes…how does that compare to your older setup, more or less run time?

@plainsane, good idea on the disease/pest front. @Tricon, do any of the photos on Scott’s Lawnopedia website look like what you have?

Nozzle selection could also be the issue if you have rotor heads instead of fixed spray heads. The photo below shows the difference between the two.

Oops, I was thinking nigrospora blight. Pythium blight needs warm temps.

But yea some pics would be killer.

I would suggest this disease site, it’s easier to filter down your search.

@plainsane, thanks for sharing. Great site!

@Tricon, how’s your lawn doing? Any improvements?

Hey Guys, thanks for all the great replies! I had to jet out of the country for a quick work trip. I manually wattered it once before I left and my wife said its been raining here in SoCal for the last couple days and the green is starting to come back. I looked over the disease pages, it doesnt look like anything there. Its completely even, green and yellow. It really just looks like it wasnt getting enough water.

My RainBird was setup to water everyday for 3-4 minutes in the morning. When I switched to the Rachio, it was watering for 14 minutes once a week. I just think this wasnt enough. I played with the settings to just try and get the watering time up, which I think its up to 41 minutes now, which might be too much. I should be able to get some picture for you guys tonight or tomorrow. Although it sounds like its getting better with the rains and more watering. Thanks again for all the help, stay tuned for pics!

Got the wifey to snap some pics. Its already looking better from the rain and extra watering time. But you can see its still there. Doesnt look like a disease to me, but I’m definitely no green thumb.

It’s hard to call. The grass looks like red fescue to me. Am I close? What zone are you in?

You definitely have a small amount of some disease, you can see the lesions in the close up but I would not say that is the problem.

If it is fescue, it is still beneficial to water less frequently with more quantity.

So here is another question, I see this is one a hill so I assume you set the slope correctly…have you performed a runoff test yet? How long can your run that zone in the pics before you see small amounts of water running under the tiller canopy. Make sure that is aligned with rachio smart watering intervals.

I’m beginning to wonder if your soil is somewhat hydrophobic because the rainy days seem to help, the grass was doing better when watered everyday but not so much on once a week schedules. This is why I ask about the runoff test.

You really want water less frequently to encourage the plant to grow deeper roots (biochemically).

Keep in mind, I’m out of my pay grade here, I live in ga and have Bermuda (fescue can’t survive our summer very well). The only thing that I do know is that my father in law lives in San Diego and that is some shit soil.

Thanx for the pics

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@Tricon, thanks for the photos!

I think @plainsane makes a good point; perhaps the grass is use to daily waterings and will need to be trained to Flex schedule shape…it’s probably just a waterholic :wink:

Most likely the root depth of the lawn is swallow from the frequent & short waterings. As such, we’ll need to fine tune your Flex schedule(s) over time (once per month) to better reflect the water needs of the lawn as we train it to drink less. Let me know if this is something you’d like to do and I can make some recommendations for you.

Happy Holidays!

Best, Emil

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Also, can you describe the ferializer schedule the lawn is on? I’m inclined to suggest that you get some phosphorus on the yard to help with root development, but before I go that route…and I apologize in advance, I have 2 questions for ya:
Have you had a soil sample tested ever? What I really want to know is what is your cation exchange and what is the ph of the soil? No biggie if you don’t have it, but would be helpful.

Second, (sorry) do you have a way to cut a plug of turf? We can do this to determine your current root depth. Anything under 4 inches is too shallow. Soak it in water for an hour then gently massage away the dirt, yielding a white root mass. Mother we can tweak the root depth for flex properly.

Now the last thing, this is easy. Clear away the grass in a small area and deposit 1 drop of water (eye dropper) to the dirt and see if it is absorbed in at least 1 second. Anything longer might require a watering agent, but I think this is a long shot.

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Good idea @plainsane. Revive is a great (all natural) product too…it’s one of my special weapons to bring back a dead lawn.

You might be able to grab a soil probe at your local Home Depot. If not, Amazon has then too…they even have soil test kits!

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Thanks guys, I’ll check out my local HD this week and see if they have those kits.

@Tricon, Home Depot should have Revive at a minimum. Do you currently fertilize the lawn on a regular schedule? An aeration might also help in the spring if you didn’t do one this last fall.

Please keep us posted.

That is a cool product. A wetting/watering agent and a chelate all in one. I’ll put that in the Toolbox next time I rescue a neglected Bermuda yard

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