Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

A Laidback Solution to Lawn Mowing: the Robot Mower

Robot mowerYes, there are robot mowers. Don’t imagine a humanoid robot pushing a mower, though! They look more like a giant headless turtle.

Any robot lawn mower you’re likely to see will be a relative of the Roomba vacuum cleaner that now wanders its way through many homes in looking for dust. Driven by electricity (or sometimes solar energy), it will mow every day if you want it to, making sure you lawn is always impeccable. Simply install a perimeter wire to indicate the limits of your lawn and program its mowing schedule to the hour and frequency that suits you.

Here’s one model:

A robot mower is designed to change direction when it encounters an obstacle (child’s toy, furniture, a human foot, etc.) and is safe for children and pets. There is almost no noise: just a discreet hum. So, no complaints from neighbors if you decide to mow early on Sunday morning. When its workday is finished, it returns to its charging station and plugs itself in, all on its own. Older models had trouble with slopes, but today’s models can handle even angles up to 35%.

As for grass clippings, they are very finely shredded and left on the turf where they decompose quickly to feed the lawn: a perfect example of grasscycling.

The Downsides

So far, I may have sounded like robot mower salesman, but I’m not. Robot mowers do have their downsides.

20150820BStarting with cost! Few models cost less than $1,500. But when you discover that you can now mow your lawn comfortably ensconced in your deck chair, you may decide that relaxation has no price! And you can now leave on vacation and let the mower keep the lawn in shape while you’re gone.

Other complication: you probably will not be able to find a robot mower in your average garden center or big box store. They just don’t seem to have discovered them yet. You usually have to either contact the manufacturer — companies like Husquarna, John Deere, Robomow, LawnBott, Bosch, etc. — or a local robot mower specialist, if there is one (and they remain fairly few in number). So you’ll likely be shopping online whether you like it or not.

Do I have myself a robot lawn mower? No, but then I have so little turf left that I could hardly justify such a purchase. All in all, it takes less than 10 minutes to mow the only bit of lawn in my yard that has not been turned into a garden. But if I had a large lawn to take care of, you can be sure that I would seriously consider getting one.

The robot lawn mower: it just may be the best tool ever for the laidback gardener.

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

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