My Rachio Journey is about to begin, help me get started

Tomorrow I get to hook this bad boy up and really looking forward to it. Figured I’d get ahead of the game a bit and ask some questions and get some guidance for best install.

My current system, 16 zones, mostly rotors (some zones 360, some 180), 3 non rotor popup zones, and 3 zones that water trees only, no grass. I live in HOT southern NM with a clay type sandy soil, still trying to figure out for sure what type I have. I found that link that people post here and it said I have sandy loam. And I don’t recall what the number was called, but I wrote down .14. Drainage maybe?

I am on an un-metered well so over watering is not a concern. Currently, my schedule is as follows. 45 mins 360 rotors, 30 mins 180 rotors, and 15 minutes regular popup sprinklers. Monday thru Friday on grass. The trees get water once a week for 2-3 hours per zone. I know people say watering more less often is better for grass, but I have proven that wrong where I live. We hang around 100 degrees most of the summer and until I started watering daily my grass always looked rough. It needs constant water. Theres no shade, its hot, and the soil is probably not the greatest. I’m also growing tall fescue and I’m in the wrong climate for it. But with enough water it looks amazing.

So on to some questions…

Would you suggest the flex daily schedule or should I just manually put it what I know works for me? Another question I have about the flex schedule is this, my well is shared by my father who lives next door. He’s very old school when it comes to tech, but he paid for the well so I’m at his mercy. When it rains (which is very rare, we’ve had 4" this year is all) his method of turning off the sprinklers for a couple days is turning off the circuit breaker to the pump which shuts us both down. So my Rachio is not gonna know it didn’t actually run unless I install a flow meter which I really don’t wanna do. Will this throw everything out of whack? I’m guessing yes.

So if anyone has any input on how I might start I would appreciate it. I understand it will take some tweaking to get it all right and I am fully prepared for that. Thanks in advance.

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Welcome! Glad you are embracing the journey! :rofl:

Let me say that your current watering practices are some of the best I’ve seen coming from a “dumb” controller. Most people water way too frequently, with very short run times. I’m in Arizona, and it is hot here too…my grass runs every other day for the most part thru the summer, but that’s with bermuda grass, not fescue, so that changes things for sure.

As for soil, go here and plug in your address. This is a great way to get your soil type pinned down, only better way would be to do a jar test.

My advice for setup would be to start with fixed schedules, exactly how you currently have them on your dumb controller. Summertime in the desert is brutal on plants (especially grass), and adding in watering changes can be tough. I’d then start with a drip zone or two and start dialing in your settings for sun, root depth, emitter PR, etc, and once you feel confident in your settings, flip it over to a flex daily schedule and watch the magic happen!

I used that web site and did the jar test and got confusing results. The site says sandy loam, but my jar looks like this. I may have done it wrong as I didn’t dig very deep. I just took about an inch of the top in a part of the back field with nothing growing on it. I live on old farm land so I didn’t take a sample from the area I irrigate.

As for this part, that’s a tough one…if you go with a Gen3 and wireless flow meter, I guess if Rachio goes to water and there it see’s low flow due to the well being off, it would stop the run. Can you tell him to just leave it alone if or when it rains? Maybe install a valve on his line that he can do what he wants with his end?

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This is the same guy that bought a 65" TV and still subscribed to SD satellite for many many years lol. He likes to use the circuit breaker because it’s easier, I’m likely not going to get him to do anything new. I suppose if it becomes an issue I could add the flow meter to my side. I just don’t want to do it right now.

Typically, you want to dig down 6-8" to get a better indicator of what is going on. Based on the jar, I’d say you have a pretty much all sand, but being only 1" top soil, that is likely blown sand/dirt, and not a true indicator of soil. If it is old farmland, I would be surprised if it is sandy loam. That is usually pretty good soil for ag use.

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I’ll probably do another jar test this weekend and dig down in the grass area to compare the 2. The soil sample I used was also on top of a bench they created back in the day when they used to flood the fields. The more I think about it that might not have been the best place to test.

Ok setup was super easy. The install wizard seemed to agree with the results at They both came up with loam. Rachio says my Available water is 17. The websoilsurvey says 16 at 40" and .18 at 6" so I think these numbers are good yeah?

I’m going to give daily a flex a shot because it’s pretty close to what I’ve been doing. I used to run rotors at 45 mins and it wants 37.

Should I use smart soak? I read somewhere people suggest not using it maybe? Any thoughts?

Loam is a good default, and safe place to start.

I would definitely use it to prevent run off. The only drawbacks are if you have a lot of zones cycle/soak could run (not continuously) for extended periods of time. It does not add any additional watering, just soaking times.


Thanks Franz! Can I just say that its pretty cool the co-founder of a company is answering questions! Thats dedication, but hopefully you get some time off, I mean it is Saturday. :slight_smile:

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