Rachio 2 killing my plants and lawn

I installed a Rachio 2 when I bought my new house around 2 years ago. This smart irrigation system is slowly killing my desert hardy plants and trees. Even bougainvillea which you can’t kill are struggling. I have tried many different settings and it wants to skip watering when the temperature is 119 outside. I’ve modified advanced settings to make it water but even then it only wants to water every 4 or 5 days when we are in such extreme drought and only for an hour which is not enough for drip irrigation. I’ve lost so many plants that I can’t even afford to plant anymore. Had a dumb rain bird before and it was working properly. I am so frustrated with this. I’m all for automation, my house is a smart home and love it but this is the biggest disappointment.

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Are you familiar with what a plant that is stressed does internally when the temperatures are over 100 and what a plant does to counteract the extreme heat. The appearance of the plant changes too… There are a lot of factors that effect the plant and even more things that should be done to keep them alive. Water or lack of water is not the only thing to consider.

There are alot of articles you can “google” about caring for plants that are getting extreme heat stress. In the 2 years you have used the rachio 2 has the continual hot temperatures been like it has been this year. Is 119 day after day normal ?

You could always use a fixed schedule so you could then determine the frequency and length of watering.

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But what’s the point of having a “smart” irrigation system then?

I always have to supplement with quick runs to compensate if I remember but doesn’t seem too efficient.

Yes, Phoenix summers are normal above 115 degrees

The advantage if you use a fixed schedule is that you can still control things from your app whereever you are. And another advantage is that you don’t kill your plantings.

This year has seen a lot of over 100 degree days here in North Texas too. This month is traditionally the hottest month of the year. Just when the daytime highs were fully ramped up with no rain in sight Rachio made an automated seasonal adjustment to cut down on water usage. I know I can go back and manually add to the zone timing, but the point is that there seems to be multiple problems with the “smart” features of Rachio controllers.


There are ways to make the smart controller work in a desert environment, and there are several people on these forums that can help you dial in your settings. But I agree, the Rachio is not “rookie” friendly. If you want to sell a smart device to the general public, it needs to be simple and straightforward, not require a college degree in agricultural irrigation. Rachio has a long ways to go (as do many of the other smart home products) to get to a general consumer level device.

As a couple of others have suggested, I would agree that you should use a fixed schedule to save your plants. Once the extreme weather starts cooling, then start playing with a Flex schedule.

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This year is far from normal in Phoenix. We set a record at 31 days straight above 110F. The previous record was 18 days! I’ve been on Rachio Flex for 7 years with great success. This year I’ve lost even drought tolerant Yuccas, and this after increasing my watering frequency over what has worked great for 7 years. All over town mature Saguaros are falling and most of those, like the one my neighbor lost, are not being irrigated with Rachio controllers. At some point the extended heat spell is just too much. Long time experts @sunny and @tmcgahey would concur.


First off, you need to share more details of what your setup is, schedule type, etc.

Yes, I agree that watering for 1 hour with emitters might be low depending on what flow rate they are (1 gph, 2 gph, etct), but the every 4-5 days for shrubs isn’t horrible. Right now, mine will run every 3-5 days, but each time, my shrub zones run for 3h29m. That is with 1gph emitters.

I have used Rachio 2 for several years, but run fixed schedules because there came a point where I just did not want to fool with it any more.

Even though I use fixed schedules, it has a few features I need like rain and wind skip, which worked well with my Davis weather station, and now with my Tempest integration it works very well.

I grew weary of trying to fine tune the more complicated capabilities of the Rachio, and just did not want to fool with it, but I never would have let my landscaping die trying to make it work.

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So here is more information after playing with the settings a little bit more:
I’m on daily flex, smart cycle and weather intelligence are on. My watering times are now 6h 40min which is excessive. And it wants to water every 11 days or so which is too long for Phoenix. I have my trees and shrubs on the same zone. (There is no other option that’s the way it was setup by the builder) I have my trees with two 4gph emitters and shrubs and plants vary from 1gph to 2gph my soil type is loam, my backyard is facing south and front yard facing north, so lots of sun. My available water is set to 0.17 according to the formulation found in the desert topic. Root depth is set to 24in, allowed depletion to 50% nozzle inches is set to 1.

Total? Or for each zone?

Think about it…a small 6’ canopy tree should get about 26 gallons of water each time you water. With 8gph being applied, you need to run at least 3 hours to put down enough water for a relatively small tree.

For a small 2’ diameter shrub, you should put down 4 gallons each time you water. That could be 2-4 hours depending on the emitters you have.

These figures come from the “Water Use it Wisely” Website.

Root Depth:
Since you have trees and shrubs on the same zone, you need to treat the zone like the most needy in the group, in this case, a shrub. So, first off, I’d get the root depth to something like 12-15" MAX. This will shorten the interval quite a bit.

Nozzle Inches Per Hour:
This is where it can get a bit tricky since you have multiple plant types on the same zone. I’d need to know what Rachio expects to put down based on the settings after you change the root depth. You can find this in the moisture graph table. Whatever figure populates in the irrigation line is what you want…

If it were me, I’d probably start with these figures based on MY zone with your emitter gph settings. Assuming 2gph emitters, and average shrub size of 2’ requiring 4 gallons per watering, I’d set this at .60. While not the ideal way to water trees, it should give the trees enough water to make them happy.

Thank you for your prompt reply Troy I appreciate your help. So here is what I’m getting after changing the settings to your suggestions. 7h 4m of watering for that zone and now the interval is around 8 days. My trees are not huge, I have 2 jacarandas in the front that are around 6’ or 7’ canopy. I’d be more comfortable with watering times in the 3-4 hour range and at least 2 times a week or at least every 4-5 days. Am I wrong in assuming that?

No, my shrub zones run about 3h30m every 3-5 days, my trees run about 4h every 7 days or so…

How much water is Rachio looking to put down each watering time after you changed root depth? Again, go to the soil moisture, more detail, and post what it says for irrigation. In my case, it expects to put down 2".

The only date that has a value is yesterday with 1.5”. I had to do a quick run yesterday of 3 hours.

You should be able to scroll over to the next week as well to see the next pending run.

Got it. The next run will supposedly be on 8/29 so 12 days from now and it will put down 1.07”. That’s too long. Is there any variable that shortens the time of the intervals?

I need to see your settings. Can you screenshot your zone settings (both standard and advanced) and post them here?

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