Should you buy a robot lawnmower?
The influx of robot lawnmowers onto the market has increased over recent years, with plenty of models to choose from. The obvious benefit is that they take the pain out of keeping your lawn looking neat, but with prices comparatively high, are they worth the investment or would you be better sticking with a manual model?
While our robot lawnmower reviews tell you how good each product is, below we’ll help you decide if one of these products is right for you and your garden.
A robot lawnmower reduces effort
Come spring and summer, the grass in your garden is likely to need cutting around twice a week. That’s time and effort that you may not always have. There’s typically another problem in the UK: the weather. Thanks to the great British summer, rain is common, so even if you may have the time to tackle the lawn, the desire to do so whilst it’s raining is likely to be non-existent.
A robot lawnmower will get the job done, with both the above issues not proving a hindrance. Rain sensors will stop the robot from heading out in the rain, but at other times it will just get on with trimming your lawn without any input from you, conveniently fitting around your life.
When the grass stops growing in winter, you can turn off the robot lawnmaker, storing it somewhere dry until you need it again when the warmer weather returns.
A robot lawnmower mulches to improve the condition of your lawn
Robot lawnmowers don’t collect grass clippings; they mulch, leaving tiny clippings behind. These provide nutrients that help keep your lawn healthy, plus they’re so small that you won’t notice them. This is quite different from a mulching lawnmower, which tends to leave bigger clumps of cuttings behind.
The best way to maintain the quality and appearance of your lawn is to cut little and often. As such, it’s important that your lawn is given a proper mow with a regular lawnmower before installation since robot lawnmowers aren’t designed to tackle longer grass. If you buy a more expensive model that comes with professional installation, such as those from Stihl, the installer will cut the lawn for you.
As a result of the mulching, many robot lawnmower owners have reported that their lawns have dramatically improved on using such a model. To gauge the kind of difference that you can expect, Stihl provided us with the shots below. The top photo is of the patch of lawn when the robot lawnmower was installed; the one below shows that same patch of lawn one year later.
A robot lawn mower won’t give you stripes
If you want a lawn with traditional stripes, you’ll need to do the job manually. Robot lawnmowers tend to move across the lawn at different angles to reduce the appearance of cut lines. It means that you get a neat and consistent finish, but you can’t get neat stripes.
A robot lawn mower can cut up to edges, but you’ll probably still need a grass trimmer
To stop robot lawnmowers from going where they shouldn’t (flower beds, patios or even onto the pavement), they need a line to be buried in the ground. Placement of this cable means there are likely to be areas where the robot won’t be able to get to. Hard borders and corners in the garden can be difficult for robots lawnmowers to reach, hence you’re likely to require a grass trimmer from time to time to maintain your lawn. Even so, strimming around the edges of your garden is far quicker than having to deal with your entire lawn.
Related: Best grass trimmer
Robot lawnmowers are cheap to run
Although robot lawnmowers are comparatively expensive, typically costing between £400 and £2000 depending on the size and quality, they’re comparatively cheap to run. According to Husqvarna, electricity costs to charge the battery come in at between £8 and £42 a season, depending on the size of your lawn.
Compared to paying someone to come in and do the same job for you, a robot lawnmower can pay its worth back over the course of a few seasons, or save you a job.
Robot lawnmowers are generally better at larger lawns
Robot lawnmowers are available in different sizes, each rated to cover a maximum area. If you have a particularly large garden, you may need to buy multiple models, using the cable to create zones for each one to mow.
At the other end of the scale, if you’re the owner of a small garden, a robot lawnmower may not work effectively and could be overkill. You’re probably better off buying a small lawnmower and doing the job yourself.
Related: Best cordless lawnmower
You still need to tidy up your lawn
Robot lawnmowers have safety sensors so that they don’t run over bigger objects, or even pets and people’s feet. As safe as they are, they can’t detect everything. If you have a pet that uses your lawn as a toilet, you’ll want to get out and clean up the mess before the lawnmower runs over it and spreads the mess.
Where’s a robot for that job when you need it?