WTH is going on?

Hello all,

I have had Rachio for years on a flex daily schedule as needed. This year my lawn is all yellow. I live in NJ where it’s been 90 degrees daily and when I look at the zones, they are all at 0-2% soil moisture. The allowed depletion for each zone is 50%. Some of these zones have been below that for days and still haven’t run. Others at 0% aren’t even scheduled to run until tomorrow or the day after. Weather station is set correctly.

I have the nicest controller on the block with the worst looking lawn. What do I do?

Thank you in advance.

When you see soil moisture in Rachio, it’s a bit misleading. It isn’t ACTUAL soil moisture levels. That 0-110% scale is actually from whatever AD is set to (in your case 50%), to 100%.

If you need to pump up the watering to get through this crazy heat wave, you can either empty the zone in the moisture level setting to force a run, or adjust the crop coefficient in the advanced settings up 10% or so.

Keep in mind, a short burst hot spell like much of the country is seeing is hard on plant/grass regardless of how much water you put down. The vegetation can physically burn.

Thank you so much for that. 1 more question regarding soil. I have pure Slate everywhere. What kind of spill should I select for my zones?

Well, if you have grass, you must not have PURE slate. Don’t think grass grows well in rock. :nerd_face:

Have you done the Web Soil Survey to find out what type of soil your area has? If you want to DM me your address, I can help you out with that.

DM sent. Thank you. It’s soil on very top but slate below.

I DM’d this user and provided the following info which would help. We both live in NJ.

Two things. The crop coefficient should be higher, I’m currently set at 84%. This makes the system water more frequently. Rachio recently rolled out dynamic crop coefficient so every month this auto adjusts. This is the first year so far it’s not bad. Last year I was set to the default of either 70 or 78% and I noticed early spring and fall it watered too much and summer wasn’t enough. Hoping that dynamic crop fixes this.

The other issue is the 1 inch nozzle inches per hour. With rotors I’m sure it’s much lower than this. I currently dropped mine to .8. I’m now watering for about 33 minutes per zone.

With these two settings changed alone my system has been watering every other day. Following the water deep and infrequent method. My lawn has been keeping up, today was a watering day for us.

How many minutes are you running on the schedule? The other thing I changed up this year is that I’m cycling and soaking more. By doing the shorter burst of water I noticed less run off and looking of water. I have cycle and soak set to run for 12 minutes and soak for 35. So with 33 minutes of run time per zone, each zone runs 3 times (12,12, and 9 minutes). I have really compacted soil in the back, therefore I’d always see the water pool. This then led me to believe I was water too much and would back off the watering. Last year the lawn went into dormancy and I lost the lawn for a while. This year it’s holding.

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I do use the auto soak cycle. Should I change it to manual?

Also what schedule do you use? I am on flex daily so it allows for the Rachio algorithm and weather updates to change.

Thank you,

I had to do manual cycle and soak because auto is based on if you have clay or higher soils and slopes.

My back yard is flat, so it won’t auto cycle and soak. Also we don’t have clay, but just very compacted soil where the water penetrates at a slower rate. Because of this I had to do manual cycle and soak.

You can “force” an automatic soak by selecting one of the slope settings such as moderate slope or steep slope.

I was getting strange and inconsistent soakings, so I just went with manual. I don’t think that there is anything to be gained by auto soaking, but in my experience, there’s more to be lost

I agree, worst year for me to move to Rachio I think. It simply doesn’t seem able to keep up with the current weather conditions. I’ve had to add many extra waterings. I have a detailed map, placement of heads, type of heads (with flow rate info), soil type, etc, etc. frustrating for sure.

I’m adding extra water by changing my soil type to a less retaining type. I could have changed my crop co-efficient, but I am staying with the new Dynamic setting.

It may we’ll be that my soil type has always been wrong, but the dry hot weather has exposed things. The green is returning to my grass now

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I always thought we were hard compacted clay. Found out that we have sandy loam after a soil test. Thinking back we were way under watering, since we thought the ground was so saturated and wet. Manually doing a cycle soak fixed that, the water just takes a bit longer to penetrate. I am now doing about 10 minutes extra per zone and we are having great results.

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@nehsmit how has the progress been with the changes that were proposed? Has the system been putting down more water to keep up with the heat & and drought?

Thanks for checking in. Definitely putting down a lot more water but some of the grass just hasn’t recovered. Had a lot of friends over last night and they all commented onhow brown their lawn is as well. Just think I got way behind this year but with these changes hoping it won’t happen in the future. Thank you all again for your advice and help

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Sounds great! The other thing I do too is treat the lawn and feeding the soil. You can get the grass to recover you just need to feed it a bit. This really depends on what kind of treatment plan you have already, if you do, or what your beliefs are about doing so. Some don’t like putting anything down, some use only synthetic fertilizers, some organic. Personally, throw down some milorganite which really helps to feed the soil microbes. They say there’s 4 holidays to do it on and Labor Day is one of them. The synthetic fertilizers (like Scott’s and Jonathan green) are good too, but they usually give you that quick pop and that’s all. Adding milo into the mix, feeds not only the grass with a little nitrogen and some iron but it feeds the soil.

I’ve also used Jonathan green magical plus, to balance out the low ph and love your soil is a good soil food too.

Now that we’re heading back into a cooler season, which is when our grasses pick up again with growing it’s a good time to feed it and recover from the stress.

One thing I’m going to be watching is how well the dynamic crop ramps down for the cooler months too. Hopefully it backs the water off enough as compared to previous years.

Set a higher frequency