New User With Flex Daily Watering Time Questions

Hi, everyone. As the title displays, I’m a new Rachio 3 user. I’ve had it setup now for about a week and ran one flex daily schedule thus far (another is scheduled tomorrow morning).

Some quick background; I averaged watering my 6 zone yard 3 times a week. 4 of my 6 zones are rotar heads. The other 2 zones are fixed heads. I was watering the 4 zones with rotar heads at 15 min. each 3 x a week. The 2 zones with fixed heads, I was watering 5 min. each 3 x a week (on the same manual schedule). I know I’ve seen a few different times people mention, “just because you’re watering times were LESS on a manual controller, doesn’t mean that it was RIGHT…”. That said, my first flex daily schedule set me up for something like 3hrs and 30min. I was very surprised, to say the least.

I manually dropped down all of my zone times to basically reflect what I was previously doing in my manual controller; 15 min. per zone with rotar and 5 min. per zone with fixed. Then I realized that what I was doing was defeating the purpose of this flex daily schedule, so I deleted that schedule and began the process of creating another.

I created a schedule now and left everything default in setup other than the Nozzle Inches PEr Hour setting. I kept the rotar head default at 1 in., but changed the fixed head to 2.5 in per hour. That got my overall time a bit better now at 2hrs and 57min.

Still, that seems high to me. Are there any additional changes I should make? Here’s my setup:

Rotar head zone

Fixed head zone

My zones are all for grass; tall fescue. No other plants, trees, etc. Location is Kansas City, MO area. Any suggestions/help on how to fine tune my schedule to really maximize the Rachio system?

you definitely need to correctly set your soil type rather than leaving it at the default value. The easiest way I’ve found is to use an app called SoilWeb. It will read your GPS and then lookup your soil type in the Web Soil Survey database (you can also go to the Web Soil Survey website and do this manually).

I don’t know why you set the Nozzle Incher per Hour to those values. Hopefully, you didn’t just leave them at the default or randomly picked a number. The best way to calibrate is to use a catch cup test.

Ultimately, whether Rachio is right or not, there is only one way to go for peace of mind: you have to monitor the soil moisture. So I would recommend getting a $10 moisture sensor from your local hardware store or a nursery (or Amazon) and regularly taking readings for the first several weeks and making tweaks if necessary until you are satisfied with the results.

The 1 in. per hour is the default for rotar. The 2.5 in. per hour for fixed is what I manually changed to from 1.5 in (the sprinkler company who fixed one of my heads last week said that they put out nearly 2 x the water as the rotats, so that is why I changed to 2.5 from 1.5.

By default, Loam was selected, as you stated. Here’s what my soil profile shows for my address.

Typical profile
  • Ap - 0 to 6 inches: silt loam
  • A - 6 to 13 inches: silt loam
  • Bt - 13 to 19 inches: silty clay loam
  • Btg - 19 to 56 inches: silty clay loam
  • BCg - 56 to 79 inches: silty clay loam

What would be the suggestion of soil type to change to from the default Loam?

I bought a $75 one, and feel it’s useless in determining when to water or how much.

MichaelS76, I do second beranes suggestion to determine an accurate value for Nozzle Inches per hour. I’m not a fan of catch cups, though, so if it’s possible to measure the area of your zone in square feet, as well as water flow from your meter, you can get a good value that way. If you measure the zones, post back and we’ll help you calculate the flow.

@rraisley, I have occasionally thought of getting one too. It seems like I would want to leave it out in the yard to measure all the time and have an interface to it. However, I do not think I have seen one that I can do either of those with. I also have thought it would be more useful to have one sensor that measured the moisture levels, say, every inch for a foot. This would allow me to accurately see how long it takes to get moisture to the depth that I want and see how long it takes for the levels to drop. Again, I do not think I have found such a beast. I believe that you might indicate similar potential problems would be ran into as with catch cups, move the sensor a few inches and the levels may vary dramatically.

It seems there are quite a few discussions here related to silt. You may want to try searching for silt and just peruse through discussions. here’s one: Zone Soil types… what to do when it’s just silt?

I went ahead and updated all my zones to Silty Clay. Based off some different maps of MO in the KC area where I live, it appears to be the closest soil type for my location. It dropped my total water time by 16 min., so it’s a bit better, but not certain everything else i have setup by default is accurate.

Outside of soil type, are there any other areas in the advance settings worth updating to dial in more accurately?

calibrate your Nozzle Inches per Hour next. I installed Hunter’s MP Rotator heads just last weekend and I remember that the chart included with the package had varying PRs depending on water pressure. So you do want to try getting the actual number (or at the very least get the number off of the chart that corresponds to your PSI).

From what I’ve read, the 1.0 in. per hour for rotar head (by default) is normal and the 2.0 in. per hour for fixed spray head is within the average range. Do you happen to have the chart your referencing?

Just FYI, my Rotor heads range from 0.39" to 0.80" and my Fixed zone is 1.06", based on actual measurement with both catch cups and area/flow calculation. Actual installation can be more important than specifications.

Good to know. It’s funny how varied info is. My sprinkler guy and neighbor both told me that the fixed spray heads put out about 4 x the amount of water vs the rotars. I guess the only way to know for sure is to do a catch cup measurement.

rc_mprotator_dom.pdf (

I’ve struggled with flex Daily for more than a year. It’s too complicated for it’s own good, and the UI is bad. Just use Flex Monthly.

I’m really starting to lean that way myself. How’s your experience been with Flex Monthly?

So far so good (3 weeks). You set a duration for each zone and it configures the period. Started at 20 mins per zone.

Plants too dry? increase duration. Plants too wet? Decrease duration. A breath of fresh air.

I’m already seeing new baby leaves on some plants that previously looked sad no matter what the crop coefficient setting was.

It all depends on what your goal is. If your goal is just to keep your plants green, a fixed schedule will do. For that matter, you don’t need a $200 piece of tech, a $40 dumb controller would do just fine. If, on the other hand, your goal is to keep your plants green while squeezing every dollar out of your water bill then you need something like Rachio.

Unfortunately many tend to confuse “smart” with “magic.” People keep smart by digesting a lot of accurate information. Smart gadgets have the same need. Although, I do agree that there is plenty of room for improvement to make Rachio appear more magical.

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“My Goal” is pretty simple. Reduce watering when not needed, which is cold weather and rainy days. I think we all had the same goal.

Blaming the users for the massively complicated Smart Daily with its poor feedback about how it affects the watering is simping for bad code.

quoting from my own reply: " I do agree that there is plenty of room for improvement to make Rachio appear more magical"

Which came after the part you insinuated the users are to blame for expecting their expensive smart watering system to actually water their plants.

No, I questioned people’s expectations that Rachio would work as if by wave of a magic wand. Sure Rachio can be improved a lot to make it easier to use (and I mean A LOT). But it’s not like it’s broken. It still works, just requires some time investment and non-trivial effort. But to have a $200 gadget and then use it as a $20 timer relay?..