Gardening Gardening tools Weeds

A Roomba for Weeds

The 5-pound (2.25 kg) Tertill will chop weeds into submission. Source: http://www.kickstarter.com

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. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. 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 is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden 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 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

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