Somehow 1 hour per zone of irrigation - doesn't make sense

I would like to start with I haven’t finished reading all the info around flex daily schedules, but somehow based on the info I entered, it thinks it needs to water 4 zones for almost a total of 4 hours.

I finally installed my rachio gen 2 device, and performed a test on the front yard sprinklers. which rachio is detecting as a having “ran”. I setup the flex daily for the 4 zones in the front.
zones 1,2 are strictly grass same type same everything.
zone 3 is same grass on the size walk, with a small side planter, which currently has flow control to decrease water.
zone 4 has palm trees and some shrubs.

I like in Orange County California, where the dirt ranges from sandy clay to clay. somehow according to the dirt sites my house is in two zones ranging from sandy clay to clay.

with all that said. I can’t seem to understand how it currently shows almost an hour of watering per zone. when it will water which shows right now Jan 5th makes sense, if it considers that it ran today and the amount of rain that has come down in the last three days.

so much for saving money on watering.

help, advice and thoughts please and thank you.

Hmmm, your times are indeed strange. I am also in Orange County. My times are 16 and 18 minutes per grass zone. I use “silt clay” for my soil type and warm season grass (9 inch root depth.) The difference in time is caused by some zones being shaded and others in the sun.

I did run a catch cup measurement of how much water my sprinklers put down per minute in order to setup custom sprinklers in the Iro. If your sprinklers do not put out much water (or the Iro believes they don’t) then your watering times may be long.

I would be specially wary of the side planter, If you have included a drip emitter in the zone it will throw things off. But that would, of course, not impact the two simple grass zones.

thanks @sbillard I have my zones setup Clay Loam, warm season grass for zone1-3) with lots of sun. it is a fixed spray head, with plenty of pressure and coverage. I haven’t messed with any of the advanced settings yet. I need to fully read all the information before I mess with advanced settings. could the duration be related to any of the advanced settings.

I’m not too worried about the side planter for now, there really isn’t anything on there, and I have the setting as a fixed nozzle, since its connected to sidewalk, but the dropper is controlling how much water gets on there anyways.

Out of curiosity how does it calculate moisture level, when I don’t have any device connected for that yet.

it is still raining here and it does say Jan 5th for the next watering, but no updates have happened yet for the duration.

The duration will not change automatically. This is determined by soil, root depth, and sprinkler type. My custom sprinkler precipitation is set at 0.16 inch and the schedule duration is set at 50%. Moisture calculations are based on the precipitation, weather and soil type (evaporation coefficient.)

My grass is not scheduled to water during the shown time window. There is rain predicted for Jan 6. I strongly suspect that the problem is with the presumed precipitation of your irrigation heads. Clay loam will hold water better than my sandy clay. The site has a good resource for setting up your zones: including one on watering times being too high or low. You should probably start there.

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Great answers @sbillard!


In addition, viewing your soil moisture graphs is a great way to view how the overall system works.

Essentially, irrigation and precipitation (rain) fill your zone bucket up, evapotranspiration (daily plant transpiration and atmosphere evaporation) empties your bucket at a measured rate.

Once you have your zone parameters dialed in, the system takes real time weather events (rain, hotter/cooler temperatures) and adjusts the watering frequency dynamically. Your duration is always fixed, since it is the amount of water to entirely fill your zone bucket back to full.

Hope this helps!


thanks , what you are describing makes sense. what I’m struggling with is the numbers. in the middle of summer, I was running 3 times a week before we were required to go down to 2 times, I was running each zone for 5 minutes. so even at 3 times a week, 5 times a zone is 15 minutes per zone, 45 minutes in three weeks. the flexible schedule wants to run 49 minutes for that same zone and 1 hour 54 minute for the tree zone. this doesn’t seem more efficient.

will the system run all zones at the same time? which leads to 4th of the pressure and water availability, then I can see the logic in the times, otherwise something is still off in the data.

@franz the goal was save water and automate the system. somehow the flexible monthly is more efficient that the flexible days and about 7 minutes more efficient than what I was doing. Was I running super efficiently already and should I go back to a fixed scheduled with rain delay? please advise. (honestly that would be sad that there would be $0 savings from using a smart system, if i was running that efficiently. good think the rebate covered the full cost, otherwise I would be super pissed)

I should save the following section for a different thread, but …
I’m trying to figure out, if the program is determining that, running (in this case) every 3 weeks for an hour (which I assume brings us back above allowed depletion) is healthier than running anytime the estimated current depletion is lower than the allowed depletion.

The goal behind flex scheduling is deep, infrequent (as infrequent as possible) watering to promote healthy roots and plant drought tolerance among other things.

Each zone has its own moisture details and runs at its own cadence. Think of the flex schedule just as a container for zones that groups zones together by when they should start (start time). If two zones have the same characteristics, and are irrigated at the same frequency, they will always run on the same day.

Flexible monthly is a good option and being predictable (monthly), easy to understand. A drawback and where it can fall short is that the intervals are fixed for the month. If there are significant rain events, or the weather cools down a bit, you won’t see the efficiencies that flex daily provides.

I can’t answer this question without doing a deep analysis of your yard, overall monthly/yearly watering etc. I do know that just with using our weather intelligence features (rain delay, freeze delay, climate skip, seasonal shift) with a fixed schedule you can save about 15%-20% off the top by doing simple automated weather skips. If you use the flexible monthly you can save even more by using automated, adjusted intervals each month. Using flexible daily I believe you can save up to 50%. In August I watered 5 times compared to the 10-15 times that I would have based on setting a 2 or 3 day interval for our second hottest month.

If you want an in-depth breakdown of my experience last year this article tries to explain my trials and tribulations.

I know there are a lot of new concepts and information to consume. My recommendation is usually to start with one zone, get it dialed in, and then transition other zones when comfortable. The reason you see a very long run time for trees is that we assume they have very long roots (24 inches), and will typically only water them every few weeks.

You can always adjust the duration down for grass if you feel that it is watering too much. If we don’t get accurate inputs (i.e. nozzle in/hr, soil type) then our industry standard watering algorithms won’t be as spot on. The best way to visualize frequency is using the soil moisture graph on each zone. If you feel that the frequency needs to be adjusted we also have ways to fine tune. With flex daily, there is usually some up-front work on getting it configured, but then it truly becomes set/forget with huge efficiencies. The community can typically get your system largely tuned by seeing a soil moisture screen shot and your zone settings.

One last thing, we are rebuilding flex daily and monthly schedules to make them easier to adjust without going into advanced settings, in our next major software release.

Hope this helps


thanks. lets see if its possible to tune in all these settings and make some sense of this. I’m just hoping for max efficiency. :slight_smile:

@fadynaime If you want to post your settings questions here everyone on this forum are very helpful with tuning those settings!

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@mckynzee here is attempt at posting my settings. please do let me know if I’m missing info.

Zone 1, 2, 3 : Warm season grass, clay loam, lots of sun, fixed spray head, flat (default advanced settings): moisture level of 85%
zone 4: trees (I have palms) instead of grass, all other settings the same. Please note there are a few bushes also. moisture level of 23%

based on the flexible daily schedule i have setup, zones show next watering to be Jan 9th for all zones.

@fadynaime Alright- that was super helpful! So you have an interesting situation… when I look at your web soil survey (can be found here,) it looks like your area is split between two different soil types, one side is clay and one side is sandy loam. Also, even though you are in Orange County, there is a chance you actually have cool season grass- I used Scott’s grass type identifier based on your zip code to look into this. @Modawg2k has some easy ways to guess on what type of grass you have- this was his recommendation:

Also, if you would go into your advanced zone settings, can you tell me your Allowed Depletion percentage? They should be set to 50%.


I have a st augustine/bermuda mix and I’ve previously changed my allowed depletion to 50% by default it was set to 60%.

also I’ve looked through the soil data and you are right my area has two different soils and if I zoom in far enough, my house shows up split into both of the soil types.

@fadynaime I saw that your house is split, what are the odds of that happening :joy: Those two soil types are pretty different too, which makes it more complicated. Let me talk to my dirt expert (he’s a geologist, he doesn’t love when I call him a dirt expert) and see what his opinion is on that. St. Augustine/Bermuda is definitely warm season, so you are good there! What is the Allowed Depletion for your tree zone? I’m confused why your moisture level is all the way down to 23%…

Alright- geologist consulted- he says to select Loam for your soil type. This should split the difference between the two types. Keep an eye on it just because if you are sandy loam you may require more frequent watering, so if you notice things drying out, switching that should help!


@mckynzee sorry for the delay. Please thank the dirt expect :slight_smile: I changed the soil type to Loam, will keep an eye out, although we just got a bit more rain today. the watering periods did drop with this change.
to answer your second question, the allowed depletion for the tree zone is also set to 50%, but for what ever reason it thinks that the moisture level right now is 41%, while all other zones are at 109%.

one more question. I’m in the process of wiring my backyard sprinklers into the system as well (had to run a bunch of wire :frowning: ) should I set that up as a different flexible daily schedule or make it all part of one big schedule? mostly same type of grass, same type of dirt and same amount of sun.

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You really need to confirm what nozzles you have on your sprinklers. The default nozzles aren’t great for most types of spray heads. Best would be to do a catch cup test on the lawn, but if we know what brand/type of nozzle you have, we can come pretty close. Regardless, unless you have something like an MP Rotator head, an hour watering is too much. There must be something a miss in the settings.

As for the drip, mine runs for almost 3 hours. In the summer time, it runs about every 6 days, right now, it is running about ever 14 days and my trees have never looked better. I will add that I did have to play with the settings and build up to that magical 3 hour watering. A few trees were stressed with the change in watering patterns, but those too are now looking awesome!



This warms our hearts, so fantastic to hear these stories.

Have a happy new year!


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@fadynaime Great- glad that helped! That sounds like quite the project :astonished: You can put them all in the same flex schedule, shouldn’t cause any issues! @tmcgahey thank you for those recommendations- I’m not as well versed in my nozzle settings troubleshooting!


@tmcgahey I don’t know what the nozzles are I believe they are default rain bird ones, I do plan on changing the nozzles for the high efficient water ones from rain bird.

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Well, lets assume you have the most basic Rain Bird MPR series fixed head nozzle, pushing 30psi of water pressure at the head, and your sprinklers are arranged in a square pattern. Those nozzles will put down 1.74" of water per hour. The stock nozzle in Rachio is rated at 1.5" per hour, so you are already off. My Hunter nozzles will put down over 2.5" of water, so there is no way that the stock nozzle was going to work.

If they are fixed head (90, 120, 360) and they work for you and you don’t need the variable arc, you are throwing money away. The HE nozzles are best on the VAN (HE-VAN, High Efficiency Variable Arc Nozzle) because standard VAN’s use a lot of water and don’t offer the best spray patterns. If you grass area will allow for fixed arc nozzles, you won’t find anything better (spray pattern wise) in a variable arc.

Also the idea of high efficiency in nozzles is kind of dumb, especially if you are using Rachio. Typically a high efficiency nozzle just puts out less water (inches/hour) in order to allow it to better soak into the ground and reduce runoff. With Rachio’s Smart Cycle, you are reducing runoff with even the highest precipitation rate nozzle.