Just finished setup new Rachio 3 16 zones on Monday afternoon. No rain sensor, local weather station selected (it must be next door it is incredibly close).
I would like advice as to whether I am going about this scheduling/zoning in an ok way or is there a recommendation for improvement.
I have a mix of lawn, shrubs, drip, trees (both fruit and oak… and Bamboo which I guess is technically grass?) in many/most of the zones. I have 7 zones / bought the 16 zone R3 in case I am able to spend the $$$ to separate things later (very very unlikely).
I bought the Rachio for its intelligence so Fixed scheduling is out. I don’t believe the Flex Monthly is a good idea with the Florida weather we have (correct me if I am wrong).
Limitation: Tampa watering restriction is 2 days with ours being Monday and Thursday. (but see below)
I decided my best bet is to determine for each zone the majority of watering… is it lawn or is it shrubs (basically ignoring if there are drips or trees on the same zone)
When I setup I just had one schedule but then noticed I am supposed to split shrubs / lawn into their own schedule. So that makes 2 schedules.
Then I realized many zones are in the back. So I created 2 more schedules (shrub/Lawn) adding Saturday to the mix.
I used the default (based on zip) – Sandy option for soil type… and did setup the slope the best I can.
It is very very unlikely I will spend the time or effort to figure out the tuna can method (is it worth it considering all the different types of heads/drips etc?), and not likely to be able to split zones into just one category of planting… just really really unlikely…
One last thing: Based on request I set up all schedules to finish before sunrise… only 124 minutes of watering (this Thursday) so presumably this will not attempt to schedule prior to the day it is set.
Does Rachio water more for shrubs than lawns?
Is there any point determining how much water each head provides (Tuna can) or doing any advanced setup?
Based on all this, what recommendations are there?
Just for clarity, the zones have mixed crop types?
This might make things really easy
What schedule type did you use?
The frequency will be less for shrubs, but the duration will be longer (assuming the same nozzle types) due to our default of 15 inch root zone for shrubs, and 9 inch default root zone for grass (assuming you are warm season grass).
You could let the system run for a week or two and go from there. A simple increase/decrease of minutes could get the system dialed in, or doing a catch cup test will help narrow down our recommended minutes. The better data the system has, the better efficiency and decisions it can make.
Yes mixed crop types. Almost every zone has a combination of lawn/trees/drips/shrubs. Some zones have more lawn, others more shrubs etc.Zones without lawn have shrubs and drips. One zone with lawn has bamboo, shrubs and trees.
Each schedule is setup as flex daily- I went with this because I want a smart controller - so fixed scheduling is ruled out. I think flex monthly isn’t going to work based on our Florida weather patterns and only 2-3 days for watering. Let me know if I have it wrong.
I think I should add: I came from a Rainbird fixed schedule system. It was set to water on the 2 allowed days (mon & Thur). Hand watering (many days if not daily) was required to keep plants happy. I don’t know how many days or which zones/ areas because I didn’t do the hand watering… so this is why i am hoping flex daily will intelligently water so we don’t need to… besides the system is using lake water… hand watering is from city with fluoride and chloramine…
From your question it sounds like this isn’t normal (to have mixed crop types in each zone).
Imagine a tropical garden with banana plants, bamboo (2 varieties space either side of trees), oak trees a boat of flowers (yes a boat) in one “line”. Would people really have 3+ sets of PVC pipe (one for each zone) going down that line to water to each specific requirement?
Individual heads do generally only water one type. In one zone there are fixed heads watering a section of lawn. In the same zone different heads water an area of shrubs. Again, in that same zone there are drip lines that water fruit trees.
In other zones there are heads which water lawn and garden/shrub areas. (this area the heads do just water everything in sight) This was due to lawn being converted to garden/shrubs (see below)
The irrigation was setup before we moved in. We did re-plan areas and had an irrigation company modify things; it might have been partially here that the additional heads / drip lines were installed in same zones instead of creating new zones: Some of these zones are far away from the valves, it might have been a cost saving exercise. To get new PVC to the other area of the yard would be expensive I would think.
After that update, there have been areas of lawn converted to garden/shrubs. We have not called on an irrigation company to add zones to those areas.
I understand it isn’t best but it is what I have to work with. I also don’t see how practical it would be to run so many additional PVC lines down the exact same areas for new zones.
I mean, if the spray heads for grass, spray heads for plants, and drip were all sized correctly to deliver the needed water to each crop type within say 1 hour run time, then I guess that’s OK. You still run into an issue with grass needing water much more frequently than trees due to their root structure.
Issue is making sure each crop type gets what it needs. Chances are you are going to over or under-watering something…
To some degree, but shrubs root depth won’t be as deep as a tree, and grass will rarely get below 9" in depth. So if you are trying to water grass at 9", and trees at 24-36" deep, see where the descrepancy would be?
yes for sure. I ponder too that roots aren’t so deep (haven’t “trained” them) plus sandy soil less likely to to soak in extra water? (i.e. is sandy soil better for drainage?)… so water more depth ok rather than less?
I ponder how the Florida daily summer thunderstorms factor. I can’t adjust the rate or depth of those!
Anyway, I will give it 2 weeks and see how things turn out… then maybe post again if needed for help with tweaking.
Real quick I hope… Schedule that was set to Mon, Thur, Sat (Zone 3,5) is “Shrubs” in the app… will not run tomorrow (all other zones will run) — says scattered showers and .14" rain… will run Saturday…
As far as Rachio knows these zones only had a quick run of Zone 3 (2m Mon,3m Tue), Zone 5 (2m Mon, 2m Tue) due to testing things.
Soil Moisture shows as 0%
All other schedules will be running (but the other shrub schedule only (Zone 1) gets to run only Mon & Thurs)
Does this sound right? Shouldn’t it run for a short time?
Just to add to this, and possibly find closure: I think the answer in this thread Yard mapping for 8 zone? could be a possible (atleast partial) fix… that being to change nozzles/heads to be a calculated/limited flow to areas not needing as much water in mixed crop type zones.
Although too many (heads/zones) for me to manage it might be worth hiring an irrigation company to take care of it.
I live in the Houston area and have 15 of the 16 zones set up. I have my grass zones set up on flex daily and have tried both flex daily and flex monthly for my shrubs. I have fiddled with the advanced settings of each zone but i don’t really know what I’m doing other than trial and error. There is not much help here i can find. During hot periods of little rain, my shrubs were dying so i had to watch it closely. I recently went back to flex daily on my shrub zones. We have had a lot of rain and the system does a very good job of saving water. I have a close by neighbor with a weather bug station to tie to. It works well on the actual rain. The system also looks ahead at the forecast and does run when it thinks it will get rain within a day or so. That all works well but during dry periods it under estimates the amount my shrubs needs. I’m still dong trial and error on the advanced settings. The crop coefficient seems to have the largest affect on the actual sprinkler time.
One thing i don’t like is that i installed water meter on my main sprinkler line that ties into the Rachio system. I may be wrong, but the system only uses this meter to detect leaks. I have inputted the area of each zone into the system. Since the system knows how many gallons has flowed and the area of the zone, it should know exactly how much water per sq.in. has been watered. It should use this to determine the time it needs to sprinkle, not some other algorithm. If you don’t have a meter then you must use their algorithm.
So i love the Rachio system, but it has some issues with calculating the amount of water needed.
One, I would only make two schedules myself, one that contains any zone that is all drip, and then one for the rest. No real reason to separate out front yard and back yard in different schedules. Looks little deeper into Tampa’s watering restrictions. Here in Los Angeles when they had restrictions, drip systems where exempt from being restricted, and you could drip water any day you want. If it’s the same there you could make that water any day…
Did you set it up for flex daily, then chose the interval to knock it down to the two days?
If you have zones with shrubs and trees, no grass, that have sprinklers and drip, I’d try and convert those to all drip, or all sprinklers.
And any with grass sprinklers, I’d try and convert those to all sprinklers. While in a perfect world you’d probably have all drip on zones that don’t have grass, and all sprinklers and just grass for the others, in my experience mixing drip with sprinkler heads is the most difficult to get even close to right.
Thanks Jeff, much appreciate you replying especially since this thread is getting a bit older.
I will certainly look into changing heads/drips and making it less mixed - might be able to for one or two zones, many zones are so long I can’t imagine trying to run new lines to those.
I would have only 2 schedules but the need for front / back as I am not sure enforcement is high (other than neighbor notices usage on non watering days) - is one reason front and back exist. I might end up adding more days to the back zones. I checked restrictions and don’t see anything broken out for drip vs regular. Our restrictions never seem to really go away either (maybe we get one extra day during part of the year but never “you can water whenever you want”)
All zones are flex daily with the days (2 for front) selected at setup.
Due to summer rains the system hasn’t run much (which is great - the Rainbird was crazy overwatering) I might have to wait until a dryer season to notice if things need adjusting.
You might contact your water utility and ask them. There was talk about loosening restrictions in my area for people with smart controllers like the rachio but restrictions went away before they made that consideration. Even if they don’t allow for that you might ask them to look into it and who knows what could happen…