New rachio need advice for adjusting flex monthly

This spring I started using a Rachio 3 for the first time.

Previously I had the State Extension service come out and do an analysis on my yard for root depth, soil type, measured sprinkler watering rate per zone, etc

In the end they gave me a suggested watering schedule of minutes/cycle per zone, number of cycles a day, and number of days between watering. Following this schedule seemed to keep most of my yard green here in Utah.

With the new “smart” controller, I set up all the zones correctly and set it to a flex monthly. I noticed that the total scheduled watering time was showing as less than 25% of the time of my previous setup. It is also showing that it is watering every day. Now my grass is showing signs of getting brown and crunchy and we’ve only just now started getting 80F days. I don’t see how this is going to work come 90-100F days in July and August.

I’m willing to try these smart features especially if it helps with saving on water, but so far its just not doing enough. I tried increasing each zone to the total recommended amount of time from the analysis, but I don’t think that’s what I want as it is just watering for a very long time now. I’d rather it break up the total time as it rotates around the yard.

What do I need to do to improve how my lawn is getting watered?

Thanks.

Jason

That is fantastic that your State Extension service did that for you!!! Please post what you have set up for your zones and the community here may be able to help you out. From what you said, I assume that you matched what the State Extension service gave you?

Also, I would recommend zone by zone, gradually switching over to Flex Daily instead of Flex Monthly. I think you will be much happier with daily as it uses current conditions, instead of monthly which is more based on historical.

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My apologies for not getting back sooner.

No I do not have the zone times set up like the State Extension service gave me. I was hoping that this service would be able to give me a better schedule.

I have since changed over to Flex Daily. I will list what my State Extension service recommended and then I will list what Rachio set for my zones.

Zones           1   2   3   4   5   6
Minutes/cycle   75  75  37  15  37  37
Cycles/day      2   2   2   2   2   2
Total minutes   150 150 74  30  74  74
Days between Watering						
May             4   4   4   4   4   4
June            2   2   2   2   2   2
July            2   2   2   2   2   2
August          2   2   2   2   2   2
September       5   5   5   5   5   5

How Rachio has it set:

Zones           1   2   3   4   5   6
Total minutes   35  35 26  16  26  26

Type: Flex Daily Schedule
Cycle and Soak: Smart Cycle
My soil is set as Sandy Loam as that is what the extension service labeled it.

Part of what I don’t know is how do I know how long it runs a zone before it turns off to move to another zone and then it comes back to give more time to the previous zone. I’m afraid that if I just set the total run time of each zone to what the extension service recommended for total run time that its just going to run that whole time causing runoff. The schedule is set to go during the middle of the night, so I haven’t been able to observe what it does.

I would like for it to be able to water each zone for a little bit at a time as it moves around the yard from zone to zone until it eventually waters for the total number of minutes for that watering schedule during the night.

The grass is not as green as it has been in previous years. I would like to be able to still maintain a green lawn while also improving how watering is done with the cycle and soak idea. I’m hoping this means I can cut down on total watering time which would translate into lower water bills.

Thanks for any assistance.

Jason

Can you post what you have set for the slope, and also your Advanced Settings? Did you set up each of your zones with the water rate per zone that the State Extension service gave you?

As for knowing when the Smart Cycle soaking will take effect, there is a handy dandy very nerdy chart at https://support.rachio.com/hc/en-us/articles/115010379767-What-is-Smart-Cycle-

Click on the down arrow next to “How long can a zone’s watering duration continue before it needs to get cycle soaked?” and you will be able to see based on your sprinkler head inches per hour and slope how long the system will water before it soaks. If you have flat slope selected, you can fake it out to make it soak longer just by changing the slope.

There is also a manual Cycle and Soak feature, but I’ve been too lazy to use it as the slope settings seem to work just fine to adjust it.

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Thanks for writing me back. Here is a link to a Google spreadsheet showing my settings for each zone:

I did not change any of the advanced settings after setting up each zone.

No, I did not set up each zone with the suggested rates from my State extension service. I was hoping Rachio would be able to give me a better watering schedule. (In hopes that I can decrease my water bill). However if I need to duplicate my old schedule I will, but I would like hope that this smart controller will be able to improve upon what I was doing.

Thanks for the link on the Smart Cycle explanation. Based on what that shows, it is watering each zone for longer than I want before it has time to soak in. It looks like I will either have to change the slope and soil type or configure it manually.

I’ve been surprised to see that it is watering every day. I was told a while back that it was better to water for longer times but with more days between of not watering to promote root growth. Has the theory on this changed?

Thank you

Jason

Earlier you said that the State Extension service gave you the measured sprinkling water rate per zone. You really need to go into each zone and put that rate (in/hr) in for the Nozzle inches per hour. You are fortunate that they did that for you – most of us ending up using catch cups to more accurately determine the rate of watering.

I would not change your soil type. Just change all your slopes to Steep.

Did the Extension Service by any chance give you your available water in/in? This can help you tune in better than just using the soil type.

Also, it is watering EVERY zone EVERY day? Often you’ll look at the calendar and see that your schedule is running every day. But more likely different zones may be watering on different days.

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Thank you very much for pointing these areas out to me for help

I just set each zone for the suggested watering times that the state recommended. Their analysis was done in 2012. They recommended 2 cycles per watering on each zone. I am wanting to try the cycle and soak approach so there will now be more cycles. According to the smart cycle/soak, the amount of time of watering before soaking was quite a while even on the higher slopes, so I’ve gone with setting a manual time. Unfortunately this means it is going to take a really long time for it all to finish.

The following data was provided by the State:

  • Root Depth
  • Soil type
  • Precipitation Rate
  • Distribution Uniformity
  • Water pressure
  • Minutes/Cycle
  • Cycles / day
  • Days between watering for each zone month by month

Since it doesn’t cost anything and I’ve made changes to my yard since the initial evaluation, I believe I’m going to have the state come out and perform an updated evaluation.

It would be nice if it wasn’t watering each zone every night. I wasn’t aware that just because it showed up on the calendar didn’t mean it was watering. I was assuming it was. It happens in the middle of the night so I wasn’t sure what was and wasn’t getting watered each time. The history is showing watering happening each night now though.

Previously with my plain irrigation controllers, I had two separate boxes that did not talk to each other. One for the front yard and one for the back. I had to juggle them to make sure the front yard was watered on one night and the back yard would run on the next night. Ideally I’d like for the Rachio controller to water some zones one night and other zones the next night. Not watering the whole thing in one sitting as according to what the schedule shows.

Total watering recommended by the state for the whole yard is 12 hr 20 min. Manual cycle/soak settings are 15 min cycle and 30 min soak. The estimated run times now look like 4:46 PM to 6:06 AM. Those times seem a bit excessive. I’m hoping it will not run all zones for the entire suggested time each night.

Thanks