Gardening Gardening tools Weeds

A Roomba for Weeds

The 5-pound (2.25 kg) Tertill will chop weeds into submission. Source:

You knew it had to happen one day and that day is here: a robot designed to weed your garden!

Called the Tertill, the autonomous robot was designed by Joe Jones of Franklin Robotics, the man who invented the Roomba. It wanders about your garden, clipping off any plants less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) tall. It will simply pass by taller plants without harming them.

The weeds are cut off by a spinning string trimmer, much like a weed whacker, hidden under the body of the robot. By repeatedly cutting young weeds down to the ground on a daily basis and thus keeping them from carrying out photosynthesis, even established weeds eventually run out of energy and die. I assume you’d have to mow established weeds down yourself the first time, then the robot will keep them, as well as any weeds coming up from seeds or wandering rhizomes, from growing back.

The Tertill has four-wheel drive on special splayed wheels designed to operate on surfaces both hard and soft, including soil, sand and mulch. It’s waterproof, but still, doesn’t like puddles. It operates on solar power and so may temporarily stop after several cloudy days. Also, it works best on gardens 100 square feet (9 square meters) or less.

If you sow seeds in the garden, you can protect them from the robot by placing a wire collar around them until they reach more than 1 inch in height. Also, some sort of barrier has to be installed around the garden to prevent the little robot from wandering off.

Functional prototypes are already available to backers through Kickstarter and Indiegogo for about $249 US. For more information, sign up for the Tertill newsletter.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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