New Tall Fescue Sod Install

Hi All,

I just got new sod (tall fescue) installed in my backyard today, approximately 700 sq ft. Concurrently, I installed the Rachio 3 that I ordered. I live in Southern California where the temperatures are supposed to range from the low 80s to the mid 90s during the next two weeks. I have fixed spray heads. The base of the soil is primarily decomposed granite with a few inches of compost/top soil that was mixed in using a rototiller (Rachio support said I should select “Sandy Loam” as my soil type). In order for the roots to set and build, the landscaper said the for the next two weeks, I should water 3 times a day for 4-mins each, every day. In week 3, 2 times a day for 4-mins eac, every day. Week 4, 1 time per day for 5-mins, every day. Week 5, 1 time per day for 5-mins every other day. Does this sound right? What is the best watering strategy for new tall fescue sod in hot and dry environment to set myself up for success in the future to a nice lawn? Will the short periods of watering allow deep root growth? I heard (and read on the internet) short watering could limit deep root growth, since the soil is not saturating 4"-6" deep. After reading the community pages, I understand the only way to configure as recommended by my landscaper is to set a fixed schedule. And then after the roots have set, I was planning on changing over to the flex daily schedule. Not sure about how to effectively transition from watering lightly every day schedule to something else without stressing the grass too much. Any suggestions?

Current Settings:
Zone Type: Cool Season Grass
Spray Head: Fixed Spray Head
Soil Type: Sandy Loam
Exposure: Lots of sun
Slope: Flat
Advanced Settings:
Area: 700 sq ft.
Available Water: 0.12 (default)
Root Depth: 6 in (default)
Allowed Depletion: 50% (default)
Efficiency: 80% (default)
Crop Coefficient: 80% (default)
Nozzle Inches Per Hour: 1.75 in

Thank you in advance!

New sod! Right now you have 1" root depth. That thin slab of dirt is the only thing keeping your precious glass alive. You need to keep that slab wet until your grass come out of shock, decides it wants to root, and then starts to grow. Water the crap out of it. Let it dry out and your sod dies. Listen to the pro and water more, but never less.


This matches fairly close.


I wish I could help with the transition, @emil what is your guess for timing? I’d definitely just start with one zone and get it dialed in first.

For your settings in Southern CA, you are probably going to want warm season grass which has a root zone of 9 inches. I’m assuming you will need to start with something shorter and gradually adjust as the grass gets longer roots and used to deep waterings.

Just let me know if you have any followup questions.


Thanks @Toneus!

@franz Thanks for the link! That was helpful. Most articles I was reading said to water 3 to 5 times a day, but didn’t include for how long. Some said 15-20 mins each time.

The App classifies fescue as a cool season grass. You think I should still classify it as warm season because I live in SoCal?

I sent an email to Rachio Support to see if I can get help dialing-in and fine tuning all the settings for all of my zones.

Interesting, I know that the region you are in is definitely warm season grass types. I’ll chat with @emil tomorrow for his opinion. I still think tall fescue roots can go pretty deep, especially in your climate. This is kind of a fun comparison.

And if you just have to know, this is what I use. You won’t have any questions as to the depth of your roots.


I’m interested in how this pans out, because I like a good movie. As our poster @GoGreen_GoWhite said, the soil is effectively rock. If you’ve lived and planted anything in CA, you know that the ground is literally cured pottery. I expect that the description of 4"-6" deep is the amended soil sitting on top of baked hard as a rock clay. How do I know? My dad had me dig 4 holes in our backyard when I was “ahem” dismissed from school for a couple days as a teenager, as a you’ll never do that again son. Fescue is what gets planted predominantly, it’s probably because of the cool coastal “marine influence” evenings are too cool for the Warm grass varieties. I have no understanding how Rachio differentiates between Warm or Cool season grass, but there is no way that you will be able to water to a depth of 9" in sunny CA. Your sidewalk will be wet with runoff, and if you do, the water police will visit first. Good Luck!

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Some places soil is pretty shallow or almost not existent. Bedrock can be extremely shallow in many places and hard pan is common. But just as California is long, it is long in diversity of geology, soils and climates. I can water using drip at least 24” deep in fertile Central Valley soils — even where I haven’t greatly loosened soil by digging a big hole for a new fruit tree. Orchards are widespread in the Central Valley and citrus orchards used to be common place in the LA basin and fruit orchards around San Jose. Yes, soil can be terribly compacted and otherwise abused around a home by decades of use. Soil can recover with a little help (aeration, mulch, water and not trodding on it does wonders) and a lot of patience.

Anyway, I’ve set my grass to default 6” for cool season in the Central Valley of California. I don’t know if our warmer, mediterranean climate would encourage deeper root growth so using that sampler might be interesting… I’m still a bit confused why water hungry cold season grass in predominantly grown here besides the asthethics. Are our mild winters too much for warm season grass??

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I grew up in San Jose, and enjoyed the diverse climates and fruits of the land (wine), My parents retired to a small 5 acre plot in the fertile central valley Hollister area. Their land was graded as A soil, the best you can get, but it’s that way because the Central Valley is actually a flood plane. A great area to grow many of the lettuces and onions that may of us enjoy nation wide. @Kubisuro is correct a great diversity, but if you’re in a neighborhood, then they scraped that topsoil long ago and compacted clay to create your postage stamp of a lot. Many of the warm season grasses would be on a roller coaster of dormancy once temps dipped near 55F. You can get that in many places in the SF Bay Area on a nightly basis.


This was @emil’s response

Definitely possible! The target root zone we use is just the effective root zone. The roots keep going and the water will percolate to those depths with deeper waterings.

So I too am curious to see how low we can get those roots.

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How did you end up setting the zones on fixed scheduled. Hourly seems to just do every 2, 4, or 8 hours but over a 24 hour period. So 2 hours, would do 5pm, 7pm, 9pm, 11pm etc. I’d like to water 3-4 times per day only in the daytime. (I guess I could setup 3-4 schedules to do fixed watering but really looking for a more elegant solution to cut off time say not after 5pm

It may not be elegant, but setting up 3-4 fixed schedules works really well — and what I do is set up three (one morning, one noonish, one afternoon) and have all three run for a week, then I set one of the waterings to stop after one week (so watering just twice a day), and then one of them to stop after two weeks (so watering just once a day), then the third one stops after another week. It just works on autopilot for me. (I set all the end dates when I’m setting up the schedule).


@jturn00 unfortunately, there is no way to interval like that without setting up a separate fixed schedule for each time of the day you need to run. What @Linn suggests sounds good.