Very short run times, brown grass

Just got a Rachio 3 a couple weeks ago, and having some confusing results. I set up my zones, soil type, etc, and running with Flex Daily. I did a catch cup test and adjusted nozzle inches down from the defaults to around .4 or .6. I have Kentucky Bluegrass with most zones getting full sun.

So far all Rachio has done is slowly dry out my lawn and turn it brown.

Each zone runs for approximately 3 minutes or 4 minutes each and only that every few days. When i had a manual controller I would run larger ares for about 30 minutes each and smaller areas for 10-15 minutes each and had a nice green lawn with no issues. I guess Rachio thinks I have a lot more water than I do.

I live in West Michigan, with sandy soils. Anyone have any clue what I might need to adjust?

What is your root depth? For cold season grass it should be around 6 inches. Definitely should be running way longer than a few minutes and way closer to 30. Maybe closer to an hour. I’ve also seen accidentally changing water duration at setup.

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My root depth is set to 6 inches. My other settings are attached.

Looks fine. The watering duration might have got accidentally adjusted. You can see what the durations are by editing your schedule and tapping on Watering Duration. I’d delete the Flex Daily schedule and recreate it. Review the watering duration it provides for each zone on schedule setup to make sure times make sense.

@BradMI - cool season grass root depth should be 6 inches if you have sandy loam your AWC is 15
I have cool season grass and my zones run for 54 minutes I had to retrained my grass to water deep and infrequent and it looks awesome one thing to consider And is very highly recommended if you have a nearby PWS i’d choose that for a better reliable precipitation

Based on your Advanced settings, watering should be around 25 minutes each time. So as @Kubisuro said, you might have manually changed the watering time in the schedule. You can either delete it and start over, or you can remove the zones and add them again to the schedule, which would reset the watering time to the calculated one.

The type of soil you have is Sandy, and that has ver low available water capacity (AWC). It is set to 0.05. This will limit the amount of water to put down each cycle. If you want to increase watering even beyond the 25 minutes, you can increase the AWC setting.

Also, regarding small and large areas, do you have different precipitation rates for those areas? Because you mentioned that you had different watering times with older controller. If the precipitation rate is still the same, the watering time should be the same.

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The available water capacity is really low (based on soil type), which means your bucket size is small to fill up, which will make for more frequent waterings. If you change to a soil type of loam it will make your run times longer with less frequent waterings. You are using “every day” fixed schedules as well, so maybe just try increasing the watering minutes? The soil type you have chosen is sand which might be one of the issues you are seeing.


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I took your advice and deleted the schedule and redid it. It gave me a much more sensible schedule this time. I honestly don’t remember manually adjusting anything related to the time but I suppose it’s possible. I’m a little concerned with zone 6 being 14 minutes because that’s part of the same front yard as zone 5 and the worst area but I can manually bump that up if need be. The 4 and 5 minute zones are smaller strips covered by fixed heads so they should be ok.

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Honestly I have no idea what some of these settings are and haven’t seen documentation explaining it. Just questions in the forum. Should I adjust the AWC?

You shouldn’t have to adjust any of those parameters if you have generally chosen the correct zone information. You might want to change to sandy loam and see what the schedule comes up with. You might have to re-create the schedule once changing the zone characteristics.


Thanks I’ll try that. I used sand because that’s what Rachio selected based on my address and seemed to match the web soil survey. I have not done the jar test yet. I mean it’s pretty sandy but it’s not sand sand.