Whacky watering schedule

New to Rachio with an 8-station unit bought a year and a half ago but only now installed. I did the setup. I am using 6 zones (two lan, four drip to the various bushes in each yard).

I set up a Flex Daily Schedule and it is wanting to do 10 hours (!!!) of watering!! 2 h 23 m for each of the drip zones! And all are the same, whether the zone is shade or sun. With my old controller I was doing about 20-30 minutes each.

I can manually override but what a pain that would be! I have to press (-) 120 times for each of four zones.

So I set a Flex Monthly and it is way more reasonable, but still twice what I was using. It seems to e more intelligent though, setting a different run time for each zone. So of course, I will use that but what’s up with that Flex Daily???

What you saw with Flex Daily may look odd to you based on your watering patterns prior to Rachio, but assuming you set the zone up correctly, it is the more correct way to water. Longer durations, less frequently. Longer, deep waterings promote deeper root growth, which in turn promotes a more stable (won’t blow over) drought tolerant tree.

For reference, my tree zones run for almost 4 hours, shrubs for 3. But, they run every 6-7 days in the heat of Arizona summer, and backs off to 14-21 days in the winter when watering needs are minimal.

Not saying that you will have great success just flipping over to Flex daily and letting it run like that though. Since you most likely watered multiple times a week for short duration, your root structures are very shallow. It can take time to train those roots to go deep, rather than staying at the surface looking for water.

If you’re more comfortable with frequent, shorter duration watering, Rachio gives you the freedom to do so.

Under Advanced Zone settings, the key parameters to decrease water duration and increase frequency is root depth (duration and frequency iirc) and nozzle in/hr (duration). For your bushes, if you selected Shrubs as the zone type, the root depth will be set to 15 inches. Reduce the value until the durations reach what you’re familiar with such as 6 inches. The other setting to check is the Nozzle/Inches per hour. The default may be low which would cause watering times to increase. For drip, there is a Community post that explains one way to find nozzles/in hour. In any case, observe your plants and adjust as needed; nothing magical about Rachio – can’t figure out the plants and irrigation system without help :slight_smile:

OK, thank you, great responses. I will experiment. I’m starting with Flex Monthly for now, which is scheduling nothing for the next two weeks, since it sees rain in the forecast.

The Flex Daily schedule wants to run 10 hours for the next two days.

Part of what concerns me is that the automation has no flow rate information for the drip emitters. I think mine are pretty high rate. Is there a drip rate setting I am missing or some other global way to tweak a zone? Right now, if I want to manually adjust the times, I have to push (1) hundreds of times to get the four zones down to shorter times.

The advanced zone setting you’ll need to look at is the Nozzle In/Hr setting. That can be used as a drip rate, but you’ll want to look at how to calculate that using the Drip Emitter Calculator. Basically it is converting Gallons Per Hour that most drip emitters advertise to Inches Per Hour. For the zone area variable in the calculation you may not want to use the total area of the zone but the area under the most important plant you want to keep alive (e.g., measure its radius and use pi*r^2 to get its area that needs to be irrigated). Also use the emitter GPH for that plant. If you have all sorts of different GPH emitters on a single zone and many types of different plants, things get challenging and there’ll be some thinking to do.

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I had similar concerned and solved them by spending time in the advanced setting of the zone, and adjusting these according to my plants/areas/drips characteristics until I got to a watering time and frequency that ressemble what I know to be good.

I summarized my install process in the thread below.

I’d argue that you adjusted to what you know to work, but not necessarily “good” watering practices.

Poke around this site for a bit. Plants benefit from longer, less frequent waterings. It promotes a deeper, more drought tolerant root structure.

Just to clarify.
If you read my initial post, I did not artificially manipulate advanced parameters to match what was recommended by the landscaper who had planted and installed the drip irrigation.
I checked the Soil type, and computed what my drip irrigation gal/h corresponded to in terms of in/h, which is what the Rachio uses, and then confirmed that with more precisely adjusted parameters, what Rachio calculated was actually close to what the Landscaper had recommended.

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