Newbie: About to Install a New Sprinkler and Drip Irrigation System - So what would you do if you had a clean slate?

Going through a major remodel and I am redoing my front and backyards completely.

In terms of plantings, my current plan is to do the following:
Front yard is going to be a combination of drought resistant grasses, shrubs and shading trees.
Back yard is going to have a lawn, fruit trees, shrubs.

My current plan is to ahve lawn on sprinklers and everything else on a drip system.

A couple of newbie questions:

  1. Does it make sense to have one 16 zone system or two 8 zone systems (one for the front and one for the back)?
  2. Drip irrigation system - can we use Rachio support it or not? there seems to be a lot of questions about it.
  3. Do I need to think about anything on the sprinkler side or drip irrigation side to setup the zones? (i am new to landscape stuff too, do I decide on this upfront? or when I setup the rachio?)

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or comments.

@philster - you should find plenty of help in the community from folks that are a lot smarter than I am. One thing that will help them is an idea of where this will be installed - e.g. Phoenix is a lot different than Fairbanks.

  1. Depends on if the water system pressure that is available can handle running two zones (e.g. one sprinkler in the back and one drip in the front) at one time, which is what you could end up with having two Rachios.

  2. Yes, Rachio supports drip systems. There is a spreadsheet on the forum to help calculate the correct precipitation rate.

  3. Yes and upfront - ideally the vegetation on a zone would have the same water requirements. In other words one wouldn’t want the trees and shrubs to be on the same zone as the grass, as the grass could be over-watered or the trees and shrubs under-watered. So there may be more zones installed than the minimum necessary to just provide coverage.


Thank you for your quick response - I live in the San Francisco Bay area, specifically in Mountain View, CA.

@DLane offers some very good advice.

Another tool you may want to use to determine the general water requirements is the WUCOLS IV.
It is a database compiled by UC Davis and “provides guidance in the selection and care of landscape plants relative to their water needs.” Water conservation is vital in landscape planning.
The gardener’s mantra, “right plant, right place, right time” will help ensure a successful and beautiful lawn and garden.


@sunny - you were one of the ones I had in mind in my first sentence! Thanks for chiming in. I’ll leave any additional actual plant and irrigating information to the master gardener.

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This is a great forum and there are so many knowledgeable people like yourself who are willing to help others! I learn something new on a regular basis. There’s the tech guys, the engineers, the electrical / wiring pros, the network gurus, the PWS experts, the irrigation installers, the folks who have just dug in and are willing to share what they have learned. The list goes on , , ,

(Of course, can’t forget the Rachio team who are willing to listen to us)


In addition to setting the zones up for plants with similar water needs, you should also consider micro-climates and very sunny areas, >6 hour, and Part shady areas,<6 hour, and full shade areas.