Seasonal adjustments, lawn browning

I thought the Rachio controller would adjust the watering according to the weather. Hotter, sunnier days means more frequent or longer watering. There should be no reason to make seasonal adjustments in the settings. Am I wrong about this? My lawn in northern CA has suffered this summer and I’ve been wondering what to do.

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Flex daily will water more frequently as evapotranspiration increases throughout the year. It will not adjust watering duration. It assumes that the duration is “filling” your bucket. If the zone characteristics aren’t exact you might have to increase watering duration by a small amount (assuming zone characteristics are close).

In a lot of cases this is true, but sometimes fine tuning is necessary. We continue to refine the software to make it more dynamic throughout the year.

Can you explain what schedule type(s) you are using and what you have experienced?


Hey Franz, 2 follow up questions to your reply:

  1. Do you recommend manually adjusting the durations of the schedule (I use flex daily) if the lawn is browning in some areas or do you recommend adjusting the nozzle inches per hour in the necessary zones? What if I only need to do this when the temperatures are extreme in the summer? Would it be better to increase the duration and then bring it back down during cooler temp months? Or would it be better to play with frequency during hotter temps? I don’t want to over water during cooler temperature months.

  2. When a zone runs as scheduled, should it be filling the “bucket” up to the field capacity? For example, one of my zones is currently at 23% SM as is scheduled to run on 8/7 but the graph shows the moisture balance will only be 79%. Then, 2 days later it is scheduled to run again on 8/9 and the graph shows it will have a balance of 90%. Why doesn’t it fill the “bucket” up the the field capacity of 100% when the zone runs?

I’d probably start with increasing duration, but also make sure you are getting adequate coverage. Browning can also be due to something wrong with the irrigation system itself.

It does fill it up, but are always burning evapotranspiration, so the zone will never be 100% after watering due to the current day’s evapotranspiration.


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Thanks for the quick reply!

I’m sure the brown patches are due to not adequate coverage in those spots so I was hoping by increasing the duration slightly, it could maybe apply a little more water to the area that might green it up a bit. I wouldn’t mind the overall lawn to get a little more green too. At least until we can add more coverage to the zone to help out. I went ahead and manually adjust a few zones to increase the time slightly and decreased a few others where I feel like they’ve done well, even during the extreme heat. That way my total watering duration is around the same time.

However, I found an article that says not to edit duration manually because it will override the precalculated duration based on your input zone settings and impact soil moisture tracking. Instead, they recommended changing the advanced settings and play with crop coefficient or the nozzle output:

If I manually adjust the times, it’ll auto adjust the soil moisture based on data via weather intelligence right? Sure, it might be a bit off for a few days because maybe I increase the duration and it thinks a zone is depleted and needs watering when it could go without for another few days, but eventually it all catches up and evens out right? Or am I missing something?

You can adjust the efficiency down a bit in the advanced settings, which will increase duration but not frequency. This will keep flex daily running happily.

Adjusting the watering times won’t impact any of the system, just add more water.

I typically recommend adjusting the crop coefficient +5%-10% if you want to increase frequency a bit.


So is the warning statement on the link I posted above incorrect?

How does it impact soil moisture tracking if I manually adjust the times in the schedule instead of playing with the advanced settings?

@zsargent30 Yes, incorrect.

@dane @sarachio That documentation is incorrect. Adjusting watering minutes does just that, adjust the watering minutes, nothing else. Can we please remove that? Thanks!


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That is good to know as I believe I heard otherwise. One each zone under Advanced, I see “Reset Zone Adjustments” and “Reset to Default”. It would be real nice if each schedule under Duration had a “Reset to Default” so it is each to be back to the Rachio calculated durations.

If this is the case, what’s the point of having nozzle inches than, If a user can adjust how much water to put down based on duration (amount of runtime minutes)?

I’ve been a user for a year now and it has been touted here than messing with minutes sets the whole flex system into a dumb down no longer intelligent mode. I can’t believe after all this time, and after seeing this on numerous threads (especially by power users) that this is misinformation.

Sorry for any confusion. We needed to have a standard way to adjust watering minutes without affecting frequency. By internally tracking a runtime coefficient this allows flex daily users to modify watering minutes while our system ensures all of the downstream processes assume that there will not be frequency changes.


Uh, doesn’t adjusting Minutes defeat all of the calculations, so that whatever else is then changed, the minutes don’t change?

We wanted to provide an easy way to adjust minutes without modifying any other calculations. If you adjust advanced settings they will still impact watering minutes (most of them).


So, you’re saying that if I manually change the Minutes of watering time for a zone in a Flex Daily schedule, then, say, increase the Root Depth by 20%, Rachio will then increase the watering time I set by 20% also? I was thinking that wasn’t true (and that to fix it required recreating the schedule, etc.).

@franz, is this a recent change? I have not done any experiments to see this work the way you described. Logically, I am trying to understand something that maybe you can clear up. If I have “a + b + c + d = e” and I change ‘e’ to be “e + 10”, does changing ‘a’ recalculate ‘e’ and adds 10 to it??? Would it be possible to add a reset on the duration some time to get it back to whatever the calculated value was?

Just did a test on a Test Flex Daily and Schedule. Zone had 0.05 Available Water, 9.84" Root Depth, 50% Allowed Depletion, 1"/hr Nozzle Flow and 70% Efficiency. Flex Daily schedule calculated the correct 18 minutes run time. So I changed the time in the schedule to 22 minutes. Then went and changed Available Water to 0.10, recalculated/refreshed and checked schedule: Still 22 minutes, while it should have changed to 44 minutes.

We’ve been saying this all along with Flex Daily: DON’T change the minutes manually, because it never goes back to using the calculations. IMHO you shouldn’t even be able to to change the minutes in Flex Daily; it should be changed using the various factors. But if you DO change it, it would be nice to have a reset button. And people need to be sure whether future changes in the zone do or do not change the minutes.

Hey everyone want to clear this up once and for all. This behavior has been the same since flex daily schedules were released a few years ago.

If we recommend 20 minutes of watering for your zone which equates to .5 inches and you water for 20 minutes we record .5 inches.

If we recommend 20 minutes of watering for your zone which equates to .5 inches and you change the watering duration on the schedule to 10 minutes we still record .5 inches.

This was built in such a way to not modify watering frequency. We made a decision to uncouple those two things.

The only way to get back to default runtimes would just delete the previous schedule and create a new schedule.

One caveat. If you water today, then change the schedule runtime, then water again the total irrigation levels will be dramatically off since the runtime coefficient will have changed mid-day (we use this globally for your schedule on a daily basis).

If you want to adequately test how the runtime coefficient works, run a flex daily schedule, watch the irrigation total on the moisture graph, wait till next day, modify runtime, run zone, watch the irrigation total on the moisture graph. You can do those on virtual zones if you don’t want to actually water your lawn.

Hope this helps clear everything up.


Thank you @franz. I know that I have asked this a few times, so I apologize. Is there a way to add a reset button for the duration in order to get back to the default runtimes? It sure would make life easier if that is possible.

@simonhill Thoughts?