Netafim (or other subsurface drip) for turf

I see there is some discussion regarding Netafim drip use, but it appears to mostly concern trees/shrubs.

I (and several others in my neighborhood here) installed Netafim subsurface for my grass areas. It would be really nice to have a “subsurface emitter” option for the type of watering in the zones so we don’t have to manually calculate flow rate.

Is anyone else using subsurface drip with turf?

(FWIW - we love it, 14 years with no issues, no worries with broken heads, wind, heads pointing the wrong direction, etc.)


By subsurface emitter option, do you mean to have that as an option in the zone setup process? After many years i find myself still skeptical of using sdi for turf irrigation. But that is just my bias in favor of spray irrigation. Rachio should add a drip option and allow a custom input of the gph.

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Yes. I just installed the controller, so haven’t had a chance to test the setup, but I think drip option for turf would be helpful.

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I’m a contractor and I specialize in drip for turf. It works better than spray or rotary irrigation. I use it for both new and existing lawns. For a new lawn in summer, here in Austin, some supplemental over-the-top irrigation is required until there are some roots to water. I also install plant-specific emitter irrigation

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What are results with watering in fertilizer and herbicides? I have always been skeptical about that. You are in a drought-prone area. Probably keeps Austin water enforcement away.

Salt based fertilizers cannot be used unless manually (or naturally) watered-in. We don’t use them anyway. I’m not sure about insecticides as we haven’t used anything poisonous in 30 years.

IMO, compost is a better nutritional solution for our area, and we stick with that.

As far as enforcement, The City of Austin exempts drip irrigation from the water conservation ordinance, but many suburbs do not.

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@febiii Have you set up any of these on Rachio? If so, any tips on setting up the zone and type of watering?

Herbicides must be watered in within 14 days. The chemical industry has made enormous progress in product safety.

It is interesting to compare toxicity of nicotine, aspirin and table salt against common herbicides. Insecticides are rarely used here, except for grub control. Fire ants are an issue in Texas.

It does. Any custom nozzle can be created.

Absolutely. I generally use 1.0 GPH emitters so I make a custom nozzle for that and the Rachio handles that fine.

For turf, I use Hunter PLD .6 GPH on 12-inch centers which gives a PR of close to 1.0 GPH. With a good base of organic soil, it only needs to run 15 minutes or so to give a good watering.

Again a custom nozzle takes care of that. Precipitation is precipitation no matter where it comes from, and the Rachio uses its algorithms just as it would overhead irrigation and it works great.

I only sell it to select clients but they all love it.

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Ok, I was hoping it was that easy, thanks!
I vary my run times quite a bit by zone and season so am looking forward to the flexibility and remote of Rachio vs. dials and buttons outside.

There are loads of resources out there for people to convert gph to gpm and inches per hour and create a cystom nozzle as you wisely point out. However, i wish Rachio would add a drip option to the setup algorithms.

i wish Rachio would add a drip option to the setup algorithms

That’s why I started this thread - but with no experience with Rachio yet I wasn’t sure if that was necessary or how helpful or feasible it would be.

I live in NW Okc. I had netaphem 12" installed in existing flower, shrub, tree beds last Fall. But it doesn’t seem close enough to some of the plants and some have already died. I used over 3000 gallons of water in December just for the netaphem area about 500 sq ft. Can you help me how to set up a nozzle in the Rachio?

That is a problem with regular drip. The best answer is to convert to emitter irrigation whereby an emitter is installed at the base of every plant. That’s what we do. Perfect irrigation and you save another 25% of your water minimum.


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What system is used to water each plant?

What materials do you use to install plant specific irrigation? I have the netafim with 12" spacing now. How would I switch to plant specific?

We use a 17mm solid distribution tubing trunk line through the middle of the bed and we tee off with 1/4 poly tubing with an emitter to each plant. We anchor it with staples every several feet and every turn and install the emitter about 2 inches above the crown of the plant so we can see it.

Not in Oklahoma City. We dont want microsprinklers here. We use Netafim .4 or .6 gallon per hour with 12 inch spacing between emitters. The wetting pattern should be enough to provide excellent coverage. The problem is that Rachio does not have a drip setting. Consider putting the drip zone on a fixed schedule with a 60 minute run time. Ewing Irrigation has a good app to convert precipitation rate from gallons per hour to inches per hour.


@febiii, just curious, how many Rachio controllers have you sold/installed?

@robertokc, which sub-surface turf defaults would you like to see added?

Do you use this for Rachio on a regular basis? Are you setting up Custom Nozzles for each zone?

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