Rachio vs. Recommendations

I’ve got my Rachio set up with 5 zones of St. Augustinegrass in Orlando, FL. I’m even part way through the Advanced Parameters (“Sand” identified from my septic tank survey, 0.15 in available water from the online soil surveys, and a 5 in root depth from browsing the forums, catch cup test to come).

I’ve been looking into St. Augustingrass care before I set up my Rachio and most recommendations are the same: .75 in of water whenever the grass needs it. This translates into every 1 to 2 weeks in the winter and every 2 to 3 days in the summer.

Assuming my precipitation rate is correct at .92 in. per hour with my rotor head (it’s not, but I’ll get the catch cup test soon), my Rachio has me watering 13 minutes at a time on a flexible monthly schedule. As I scroll through the year, the frequency seems right, increasing from every 5 days to every 2 days in the summer, but 24 minutes just doesn’t seem like enough. At 1 in per hour that would translate into about .368 in of water, which doesn’t seem like enough.

Here’s a link to the watering recommendations: http://www.qbdfl.com/docs/manuals/YearlyCalendarFloratam.pdf

My question is this: Should I be assuming that what Rachio suggests are better and more efficient watering methods than what these guidelines suggest, or should I assume that I have some Rachio parameters incorrect and should change them until they kind of match the guidelines?


Of course we have better methods :wink: Just kidding.

Did you end up choosing sand as a soil type or just override the available water capacity?

Regarding watering minutes, I believe the more important factor in flexible monthly is the watering frequency, since adjusting the minutes is easy. I would say start with the lower time (saving water/money) and if lawn looks stressed just bump it up. Might be easier than doing a lot more research on zone characteristic adjustments. Just my thoughts.

Another question I have is that if you are going to this level of detail with your zone characteristics, would you want to try our flexible daily watering which is a lot more dynamic than flexible monthly? Could maybe thrown one or two zones in it, and compare with flexible monthly.


@franz, Thanks for the response.

I chose sand as the soil type AND overrode the available water capacity. I think the default available water for sand was pretty close…like 0.5 vs my new value of .15. (I wasn’t sure if “Sand” was just a set of default advanced properties or if qualities of sand are taken into account in addition to the advanced properties.)

I will definitely be moving to Flex Daily in the near future. Going through the exercise of setting up the Rachio forced me to look at the nozzles on my sprinkler heads and the GPM is the same on all of them leading to very uneven watering. There are parts of zones getting watered 2 times as much as other areas in the zone. Once I get these changes made and my catch cup test done I will switch over to flex daily.

It sounds like the answer to my “Rachio vs Recommendations” question is that some of the settings are meant to be flexible so that they can be tuned to whats needed and for the grass. Once I get those settings dialed in correctly, Rachio will help me to save water.

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Sand is actually 0.05in of available water capacity, which means you would probably be watering every day :wink: Sand can’t really hold any water at all. In our next version of software we are removing that soil type. We are moving towards a much simpler soil type determination.

.15in seems reasonable, I have silty clay with .16in.

Cool, I’d even try one or two zones flex daily, and then the rest fixed just to see the difference and if any other tuning.



I chose sand initially because when I reviewed my septic tank application from last year it said I had FS (Which I took to be Fine Sand) at least 24 inches down (Its Florida so this makes sense). From that they determined the loading rate to be .6 which matched the .6 in/h for sand for Rachio soil type. The .15 available water I got from the online surveys linked from the forums here.

I’m probably going to keep the .15 available water to avoid watering every day.