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Robotic lawn mowers: Do they work?

Dec 14, 2018

Robotic lawn mowers are still relatively new to Australia. But, will they do a good job on tough Australian grass such as Sir Walter Buffalo?

We’ve all seen the advertisements for robotic vacuum cleaners, and now this technology has arrived for the outdoors too!

Robotic lawn mowers are still relatively new to Australia, however they have been around overseas for some time. But are they worth considering, and will they do a good job on tough Australian grass such as Sir Walter Buffalo?

HOW DO THEY WORK?

Robotic mowers such as the Husqvarna Automower range use an electronic boundary wire that is installed just below the surface of your lawn. Any trees or garden areas are isolated as “islands”, so the mower knows to avoid those areas.

The mower moves around your lawn within the defined boundaries in a random pattern, which gives a uniform result with no obvious striations – however it also means no straight definable lines for those Lawnthusiasts amongst us!

As there is no catcher and the cut grass is shorter, clippings are mulched into the grass as it moves along. This can act as a natural fertilizer for your lawn.

Robotic mowers are generally powered by a rechargeable battery, which charges when connected to the docking station. If the battery reduces to a certain level during mowing, the mower will automatically find its way back to the docking station to recharge, and resume mowing once done.

The latest robotic mowers have a built in GPS tracking (great for added security – you will be the envy of the neighbourhood after all!) and are programmable from mobile devices. You can program the mower to start at a certain time, day and frequency to suit your lifestyle. Husqvarna even has an app allowing you to control some models from anywhere in the world. No more returning from holidays to an out of control lawn!

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DO ROBOTIC MOWERS WORK ON AUSTRALIAN GRASS?

Australian grass varieties such as Sir Walter Buffalo are generally more hardy than overseas varieties. With it’s drought tolerance, broader leaf and deep roots, we need a mower that is up for the challenge of cutting this extra tough grass!

We have found that robotic mowers will cut Sir Walter Buffalo grass if you maintain a shorter grass length. If you’re making a purchase, before you bring your shiny new mower home we suggest you give your lawn a good mow to reduce the grass height with your old mower first. Robotic mowers rely on regular and shorter mowing, so they will work best if you start – and stay – short.

Then maintain your lawn with regular mows by the robotic mower, some edging as needed your yard will always look great!

If your lawn has grown too long, for example if the robotic mower needs repairs, you may find you need to reduce the length of the grass with your old mower before resuming again.

THE BENEFITS OF ROBOTIC MOWERS

Time

The most obvious benefit of a robotic mower is that it will save you time!

Investing in an auto mower means no more weekends spent mowing instead of spending time on other projects, and no more mowing after a hard day at work. Hooray!

With regular mowing, your lawn will always look well maintained with far less effort needed from you.

Maintenance

Robotic mowers are lighter than other lawnmowers, making it easier to carry and perform maintenance.

The mower blades are also lighter and generally easy to remove and replace.

Noise

The sound level on robotic mowers such as the Husqvarnas is between 58 – 69 dB. Traditional mower sound levels can be 95 – 100 dB. Therefore the mower can cut your grass much quieter than your old mower – meaning your neighbours will be happy too!

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THE DISADVANTAGES OF ROBOTIC MOWERS

Larger lawns

If you have a larger lawn, you may find a robotic mower will not get around to your entire lawn and multiple mowers are required.

Fallen objects

Regular picking up of objects – such a fallen fruit and sticks – is essential with a robotic mower. The mower blades can be damaged more easily than traditional mower blades. This can result in the blades needing replacement more often than traditional mowers also.

OVERALL

Robotic mowers definitely have a place on Australian lawns, and can work with Sir Walter Buffalo grass.

For those who want to spend less time on lawn maintenance, a mower such as those from Husqvarna could be ideal.

If you have a larger lawn or if you pride yourself on your lawn stripes (we’re looking at you, Lawnthusiast!), a robotic mower may not be for you!

All photos by Husqvarna.

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