By November, most of us will have stopped thinking about mowing the lawn (or at least, we would normally – this November has seen the highest day and night time temperatures on record!).
However, December is only two weeks away and Christmas shoppers are beginning to appear, so what can you get for the person who has everything? Well, the one thing they probably still don’t have: a robotic lawnmower.
What is a robotic lawnmower?
By now, many of us are well aware of robotic lawnmowers, and it’s increasingly likely that before long they’ll be appearing in your neighbourhood – if they haven’t done so already, that is.
They are already the second most common domestic robots after vacuum cleaners and 2012 saw sales of these lawnmowers increases fifteen times more than conventional mowers.
Why are robot lawnmowers so popular?
It isn’t hard to see why when one in four garden owners said they disliked mowing the lawn. Amongst the remaining three, in which I include myself, I think it would be quite likely that, even if they don’t dislike the task of mowing, many would prefer to be sat in the garden enjoying some wine instead.
A robotic lawnmower could let you do just that, and the money saved on petrol could pay for the wine too!
Is your garden suitable for a robot mower?
But what if your garden’s unsuitable for a robotic mower? These days that’s quite an unusual garden.
Most models can cope with steep slopes (as much as 45% gradients which is more than twice than can be mown with a conventional ride-on), don’t struggle to mow around obstacles and have cutters which float to deal with uneven lawns.
Size isn’t much of an issue either, with the biggest and best models able to maintain lawns of up to 6000 square metres.
Almost without exception, any lawn which can be maintained with a conventional mower is a candidate for a robot.
Choosing a robot lawn mower
There are many different models and features to choose from, and the selection is only growing with the current main brands – Husqvarna, Honda and Flymo – all supplying multiple models.
It’s worth noting that the differences between robotic and conventional mowers extend beyond the lack of human input.
How often will your robot lawnmower be used?
In order to be autonomous, robotic mowers do not collect grass clippings but mulch them back into the lawn. To prevent this affecting the appearance of the lawn, they usually cut shorter clippings than a normal mower and, to this end, when grass is growing at its fastest, will mow daily.
Some mowers can still cut grass up to six inches in length but importantly, some cannot. Take this into consideration when purchasing if you intend to completely replace your conventional mower or else you may still require it for the first cut in spring.
What does a robot mower cost?
Beyond that, choosing a mower depends on
- your budget,
- how much input you’re willing to supply (some mowers need to be told when to mow and have to be put on charge, others will do this autonomously)
- and your particular lawn.
Of course, robotic mowers command a price premium over their ‘manual’ counterparts – sometimes a significant one – so it’s up to you to decide whether mowing is enough of a chore to part with the cash since the finish achieved is usually no better.
Keep in mind that, as with conventional mowers, there are running costs too. Robotic mowers don’t need to be serviced and are a lot cheaper to operate than petrol powered machines but blades need more frequent replacement and batteries will have a finite lifespan.
Batteries are one of the biggest factors to compare mowers with one another. Though blades are relatively inexpensive, some replacement batteries can cost as much as an entire cheaper electric or petrol mower and, whereas John Deere’s mower’s batteries can last as long a ten years, others will only go for two seasons, though a shorter lifespan is usually indicative of a cheaper replacement battery cost.