Need Drip Irrigation Setting

Rachio needs a drip setting and layman’s explanation how to use it. I read a lot of conversation back and forth about number of emitters and it does not make sense to me. Can you guys at Rachio answer us about drip settings?


Hi @robertokc, good to hear from you, and apologies for the confusion. Could you tell what questions you have and I’ll find a resource for you?

Hi Ben,
My point is there should be an option for drip when setting up a flex schedule. I’m reading comments from people who are getting all hung up on the number of emitters and number of plants. My thought is to have a standard drip precipitation rate of .9 or 1.0 gallons per hour and provide a way for people to input custom emitter in gallons per hour. If you cannot add drip, then provide an option for customers to put in a fixed schedule for the drip zones. Does this make sense? My irrigation is all sprinkler irrigation, but many have some drip irrigation.


Just set up rachio for my drip irrigation system. It seems like it would be so simple to have calculation of water usage using gph of emitter times # of emitters per zone. I have looked at the PR calculation you suggest and it is difficult to apply. Do you have plans for addressing this for your drip irrigation customers?


Definitely agree with both of you. Making drip easier to set up is something we’d like to tackle. Handling both in/hr and gpm is not something we can do currently, but it is on our roadmap and will be easier once we complete our server revisions.

I’m probably putting in some drip irrigation in my yard next spring and can’t wait for this as well. :slight_smile:

You can always put your drip zones on a separate fixed schedule to handle this now. You can have as many schedules as you like.

Thanks so much for the suggestions!

Putting drip in separate schedules does not work well because two zones cannot run simultaneously. Drip has low water pressure demands (generally) and very different cycles than lawn. On a 16 zone system we ran out of hours in the day - it is a big point of frustration.

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Thanks @sperok. Appreciate the clarification. This is great info as we think about drip and how to improve it.

Have a wonderful day!

You can’t give an option of gpm or in/hr? Seriously? Do you guys have any experience with drip, in the real world?

Maybe you need to hire a retired irrigator to help you.

The reason I mention this is because a buddy is trying to get the schedule right, on his controller. It is a disaster. Let’s just say I am less than impressed with this product.

Add to that we have watering restrictions (which drip is usually exempt from), and this controller leaves a lot to be desired.

But, getting back to drip…

It works best when it is done on a daily basis. (Which is why it needs to be exempt.) Yes, it has very low flow rates, and could have very long run times. And could muck things up, if you have a lot of zones. (Not sure how brand x or y or z will fix that. Sounds like a basic design problem, in the system. 16 zones, for a residential property is a bit much. It must be a really big property. Which usually requires a larger meter, to handle larger zones. Like commercial properties do.)

The biggest problem that I see, which is not anything you guys have control over, is a mismatch of soil and emitters. A lot of folks try to shoehorn anything in, to an existing system, and hope it works the way the old spray heads do. Which, in the case of folks with heavy clay, is asking for BIG problems.


We played games with the settings for his drip zones. We know the root depth and the precipitation rate. (Well, I do, since I measured both. Not sure the average home owner has any clue about either, but let’s put that aside.) It didn’t seem to matter what we did: the schedule stayed the same! And it was way too short.

It would probably be fair to point out most “smart” or “Et-based” controllers are notorious for over-watering. Some by as many as 200%. (Based on work by the guys at Texas A&M.) The best one, which I mistakenly put in lots of, only went over by 20-25%. Which is what we also confirmed, by years of futzing with them. (The problems started when you tried to get one to back off by 20-25%. We eventually had to give up, and turn off the “smart” feature.)

So, bottom line is…

His landscape is burning up. We are trying to get it right, but your controller wants to pretend it knows more than I do, on how to set a schedule. It looks like a neat product, but I would never install one. Luckily…I am retired! So, you won’t have to worry about me putting in Brand W instead.

If any of the member would like my input, on drip, please feel free to ask. I am not sure how this forum works. Some send out notices, on replies. If so, I will know. If not…and I am not busy doing retired stuff, I will try to check back in. But, no promises. Someone expects me to do all the things I was supposed to do, years ago. Ooops…!:confounded:

There is an in/hr setting. It’s defined in the nozzle section.

Start a different thread with the issues that you’re having. There are a lot of good guys and gals on this forum that will go out of their way to help.

Not as a general rule. Here in the desert my garden runs daily, but my trees and shrubs only water every 7-10 days. It depends a lot on the soil type and vegetation.

The Rachio software provides settings for nozzle flow rate and soil type, including available water content and infiltration rate based on the soil properties. The algorithms take this all into account to determine the proper watering frequency and duration.

Is the schedule Flex Daily, or something else ? The schedule type would explain to what extent you would see changes. Definitely start a separate thread. Post screenshots of the zone settings.

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Hmm…strange s/w, as I can not read what you posted.

Well, let’s try anyway.

Yes, it does in/hr, but not gpm. That is one concern. (Yes, I know how to convert gpm to in/hr, based on area. Would rather not have to estimate the area, but since I knew what drip tube he was using, aka, the wrong one, I was able to figure out the area. Assuming he got the spacing correct.)

It is not my problem. It is a friend’s, and this is where he steered me. I’ll look for others.

OK, if you live somewhere with mostly sand, and can get roots to grow down to 8". Not my world, and I bet not the world of a lot of customers.

I can not give you screenshots, as this is not my unit. I know he has gone 'round and round with your tech support, and called me out of frustration.

All I know is he followed your tech support’s advice, and he is still underwatering. We use the TAMU site, to give ET numbers and required water application. We can not get your controller to give us a schedule that works.

You will have to continue to address his problems, with him. I am just giving what I hope is an honest and unbiased comment on how I think it works. Or doesn’t. I have no dog in this fight, so if his landscape dies, it isn’t my concern.

I’ve given the same sort of advise to other manufacturers, of “smart” controllers. Some listen, some don’t.

Others say “WHAT? Water restrictions? Huh? You mean that you can not water in the afternoon? I have never heard of that, anywhere. Well, we can’t help you with that one.” (Actual comment from…let’s say Brand H controller guru.)

But, let’s table all of that, and let me ask you some technical questions, which hopefully you can address. Maybe we can help him, without either of us wanting to strangle him.

So, in this case, through no one’s fault (other than the guy who put it in), does your unit “correct” for a precipitation rate that is too high? And/or on a slope, which makes runoff more likely?

Case in point: drip tube with emitters that flow almost 1 gpm, in clay (with really shallow roots, which is a limit of living in this part of Texas), and on a sharp downward slope. What is the controller going to do? Is it going to figure out “Hey, this is putting out water too fast, and is going to run off, if it runs constantly.” Or, is it going to cycle on and off, to prevent exceeding the percolation rate of the soil? (For some odd reason, a lot of Brand R drip tube has been installed here, and it all flows too fast. Makes programming easier, for lazy irrigators.)

Is it going to figure out “The root depth has been input as 2.5”, so it is going to figure out it REALLY needs constant watering, as in daily? It sure doesn’t look that way.

To be honest, I am trying to stay out of my buddy’s problem, but when his drip system runs, it all runs down the street. His last controller did not do that. It also did not underwater. Clearly, something is wrong, and your tech guys don’t seem to be able to help. So, that is the story.

His turf area seems to be ok. At least on casual inspection. Which is as far as I care to be involved. (At least until it floods the street.)

Let me first say that I don’t work for Rachio. I’m just a guy that has one, thinks it’s great technology, and enjoys helping others if I’m able. I strongly advise that he work through this forum. Not that tech support at Rachio isn’t valuable, but there are a lot of folks on this forum that have a lot of regional experience, horticulture experience, lawn turf experience, etc. I doubt you’ll get that from a single user in any tech. support organization. The wealth of experience on this forum is amazing. If he’s not computer/internet savvy and you’re up for doing it for him then I believe he can give you access and you can see it from your PC at home. See this article. (

There are mechanisms for dealing with water restrictions using Rachio. I don’t have water restrictions so I can’t comment in detail, but I’m sure others here will guide you on it.

Yes, the algorithms understand the infiltration rate of the soil, the precipitation rate of the nozzles, and the slope to comprehend whether or not soaking periods are required. Here’s another article on that topic. (

Yes, root depth has an impact on watering frequency, along with a whole bunch of other factors. Look at the ‘Zone Attributes’ table midway through this article. ( As I mentioned starting another thread regarding his settings and what problems he’s having will lead to an understanding why he is struggling to see that in his setup.


Terribly flawed research at Texas A&M. The researchers were called out for such poor experimental design on that smart controller study. Plus that study was done with old products, many no longer on the market.

@wfm8p, have you seen this online custom nozzle calculator that we’ve built? Additionally, this thread discusses this concept in detail.

@ar-t, yes we do – I personally have installed, maintained and repaired thousands of systems. Happy to personally chat with you or your friend over a call. If you’re interested, please schedule a call with me.

What duration were you seeing? I’d be happy to review the settings and run the numbers. Do you know what type of schedule he was using; Fixed or Flex?

Happy to follow up on his support ticket. Maybe you can direct message me his name?

We don’t enable Smart Cycle on drip zones, but the work around is to create a custom nozzle and set it as a lawn nozzle.

Yes, if you’re using a Flex Daily schedule and the weather station’s data confirms that ET for the day validates the need to water on a daily basis; i.e. allowed depletion is reached.

Sounds like a misalignment of soil and nozzle settings. Will need to review the support ticket to understand what was recommended to the user and how the system is currently configured.

@emil, if you have one emitter per plant this calculator is TOTALLY useless. Have you seen my post in another thread?

@Linn, I’ll need to visit that thread, but I respectfully disagree that the equation is useless. Drip zones and configuration vary in complexity; especially when there’s different application rates of nozzles and different counts of nozzles going to the same plant. In well designed systems, this is all considered and reflected in the layout of the system. Usually you’ll see systems over engineered with numerous zones going to specific hydrazones, or less engineered systems with zones attempting to water multiple hydrazones…sometimes with both drip and turf nozzles on the same zone! :scream:

I’ll review your other post and offer some recommendations. Offer to schedule a call is open to anyone interested. Please remember we DO listen and read all feedback and recommendations.

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Uh, they used the controllers that were available, at the time. I personally know those guys, so I take slight exception to that.

Not that I am a fan of Aggies, in general. You would have to live in Texas to understand.

I used to live there. I understand. :wink:

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Again, those problems are HIS problems to solve. He just asked my advice. If he wants to come forward or not is not my call. Not sure what else I can say.

My main “issue” falls along two lines. And since I am no longer in the “bidnis”, I don’t expect anyone to care, since I can not affect their bottom line.


The last thing I ever wanted was for customers to screw around with the controller settings, once they were set. We made quarterly visits, to change them. (No one wanted to pay us to do it on a monthly basis, so quarterly it was.) But, some customers just had to take “advice” from some talk-show horticulturist, who knew diddly-squat about irrigation. And then complain to us when things went awry.

So, controller set, box locked, and we take the key.

This product takes the opposite approach. So, if I was still in the bidnis, I would not install any.


To make effective use of this, the customer needs to know soil type, root depth, precipitation rate and some common sense to know “Hey, this schedule looks odd.”

Hate to tell you, but a lot of irrigators don’t know a lot of that. (Sad, isn’t it?)

So, you wonder why folks ask so many “How do I…blah, blah, blah” questions.

Yes, I have now poked around a bit, and you do provide some explanations. They may seem straightforward, to us, but to your customers?

Somehow, I think not.

OK, “we” know that gpm x 96.25/area = PR. Fine.

How hard is that to add into the s/w, so a customer, if they can get the gpm, and guess the area, that the s/w does it for them? Can’t be that hard. Give them the choice: “Input PR or flow rate”. Simple suggestion. Might save some time spent with tech support or on this forum.

So, to a curmudgeon retired irrigator, this looks like a toy for the generation that is glued to their phone, and wants that to be their interface to the entire world. Fine by me. They can push buttons, and see that their water usage drops. Most will be happy, if that is their world.

But, in all my years of doing this, the customer always knows more about water conservation than the guy who does it for a living.

Even when he has one of those EPA…what is it called…“water sense” certifications.

Just like you guys do!

Might hold water (pardon the really bad pun, but it was too hard to pass on) for a product, such as yours. (It looks good on the box it comes in.)

But tell a customer that you have one…“HUH? A what? So what? So-and-so on the radio said…etc. I know he would not lie.”

No, just be wrong.

Anyway, this isn’t my fight. I am just commenting on what I have observed. That is all. My buddy can continue to…well, I am not sure what he is going to do. I suspect call me to see if I have a spare controller around.

Oh, and aside from the fact they are Aggies…

We have used a lot of those “flawed” controllers. And, yes, our empirical findings track theirs.

Sounds like a case of severe butt-hurt, by some manufacturers that made lousy products. We ditched all of them, except one, and disabled any existing “weather stations”.

But speaking of that…an anecdote, along those lines, aimed at amusing anyone who reads this…

A few years back, I did an audit, at a local Wells Fargo bank. A certain landscape company was trying to get them to “fix” the large turf zone, located in the front of the property. They needed to show them how bad it was, so time for Mr. Auditor.

And it really was bad! I think the DU was something like 32%. Which is dreadful.

Now, why would the local branch care, and why would they spend $$$$$ to have someone tear out all the rotors, and replace it with…

Drip irrigation. A dirty word, to most people.

Well, here is why:

The PTB seem to be concerned about water conservation. Hey, being from CA, I can see that. OK, fine by me.

The problem is…

They used what we call a “Crap-o-matic” smart controller. With a link back to Crap-o-matic Central.

And no one, repeat, no one, is allowed to futz with any of the settings, other than someone from Central Control.

(Anyone old enough to remember the weird TV show, The Prisoner? “Contact control…Number Six approaching restricted area!”)

So, when I submitted my report, I asked the landscape company if they ever looked at the irrigation schedule, and if it made a lick of sense to them.

The answers were “yes” and “no way in ###”, respectively.

I wished them well, if they got the contract to install drip, on getting someone to change the controller!

Texas A&M feels like a cult whenever I have visited. The place creeps me out. So glad they are out of the Big 12!