Why does Rachio need me to set my watering duration for a Flex Daily Schedule?

I just set up my first schedule in the Rachio software. I want it to have complete freedom to make the best watering decisions for my lawn and trees so I set up a Flex Daily schedule and basically clicked all of the settings that put it on auto pilot. I let it pick the watering days, I enable full Weather Intelligence, I enabled Smart Cycle and in general just picked all of the recommended settings for the schedule. My curiosity is this: if Rachio knows the type of plant its watering and it knows my soil type and it knows how hot it has been and I’ve basically told it to make all of the decisions on how to water my lawn on its own, why oh why is it asking me to set a duration? I thought the whole point was that I didn’t know how long to water my lawn? Sure it comes in with a recommended duration amount, but if it was confident that its recommended amount was right, why does it drop me on that screen and ask me to check that the time limits are good?

Should I just use the recommended amounts? I used to water my lawn 3x a week for 15 min each station. My grass was green and didn’t grow too fast (don’t want to have to mow weekly). However, Rachio wanted to water each station for 28 min when it ran the first time. I panicked because I wasn’t sure how often it was going to water so I adjusted its run time down to 15 minutes per station, but am I actually wasting water and money by not letting it do its recommended 28 min run time? It looks like with my 15 min duration setting it’s watering every three days currently.

I appreciate any light someone can shed on this issue. Oh, and I’m on a Gen 3 controller.

@omatase - Most people don’t have all the right information to put into Rachio and some parameters are more sensitive than others - e.g. soil type, precipitation rate, efficiency, root depth, etc.

The first time Rachio waters it assumes the root zone is empty, so it will normally be a longer run. One can go to the soil moisture graph and it will go out two weeks showing the watering schedule.

If you have unused terminals on the Rachio, you can set up phantom zones to see how they would perform.

The recommendation is to start with one or two zones on Flex Daily, the rest on a Fixed/Flex Monthly schedule and to get those zones dialed in. Once the first zones are dialed in then move the appropriate settings over to the other zones.

The reason why one can change the settings is because the plants in the zone might be mixed (e.g. shrubs and grass) or have different water needs (e.g. vegetables) than the system has.


Agree with what @DLane said. And I would take the 28 minutes that the Rachio recommended if you feel pretty good about the parameters you put in. My guess of why they ask you about the duration is to let you see what it’s calculated so you won’t be surprised when you see how long it waters. Just remember that with Flex Daily, the system is wanting you to do deep enough waterings at the right times.


@omatase This is a good, short rundown of some flex daily questions. Probably already covered by @DLane or @Linn :wink:


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