Imagine a life where you never have to mow the lawn. Ever. That’s the promise of robotic lawnmowers: perfect lawns without the toil. Here’s our top picks in the emerging market.
Robotic lawnmowers have come a long way in recent years. Once complicated to set up, foiled by bad weather and lawn ornaments, robotic lawnmowers are far sturdier and smarter than ever before. Many have incredibly simple set up processes, a few even happily work via your smartphone.
Now, admittedly, they’re still not perfect. For one thing, you’re going to have to spend a hefty chunk of money to own a robotic lawnmower. Given you need between $1,000-$2,000 to get a good one, that’s a big decision to make. As an early adopter to new (but cool) technology, you’re paying a premium to avoid cutting your lawn manually. Think of it this way—for less than the price of the cheapest robotic lawnmower, you could buy a top of the range Cub Cadet self-propelled lawnmower, and your job would be way easier than ever before (albeit, not automatic).
So, why buy a robotic lawnmower? Well, they’re pretty cool. They’re the perfect talking point when you’ve got friends over in the summer, questioning how your lawn looks so great. That’s the other thing—street cred aside—typically, robotic lawnmowers produce healthier, stronger, and better looking lawns than a conventional mower. That’s because they’re programmed to work on a continuous basis, and even the most dedicated gardener takes more breaks than that. Rather than lopping off centimeters at a time, your robo-mower will zip around giving your lawn a microtrim with just a few millimeters taken off. This microtrim method ensures healthier growth and mulches the tiny tips of the blades down into the soil.
And of course, there’s the biggest advantage: you don’t have to do any of it yourself. Simply set up the robotic lawnmower when you first get it, and you can mostly leave it to do its thing. Easy, huh? It’ll even cut at night, assuming you don’t mind a little noise.
Now we’ve justified that hefty initial price tag, here’s our pick of the bunch for robotic lawnmowers.
Best Over All: Husqvarna Automower 315 ($1550)
The Husqvarna Automower 315 consistently reviews well which is exactly what you want from something that’s setting you back about $1,550. Set up is a matter of using boundary wire and pegs to map out your lawn. Expect to take an hour or two doing so, but that’s about it in terms of anything too convoluted. Once finished, you can set the Husqvarna Automower 315 up to run with an automatic cut schedule based on the rate at which your lawn grows.
There’s no worries when it comes to slopes either with the mower able to cope with hills of about 22 degrees—slightly higher than most of its competition. With a range of about 1,500 square meters, and the ability to work even in the rain, it’s highly effective. It’s even super quiet so you could potentially schedule it to work at night.
Best Budget Model: Worx Landroid ($970)
Paying just under $1,000 for a robotic lawnmower might not sound like much of a budget offering but with such new technology, the Worx Landroid is the best you’re going to get for under a grand. The robotic mower is designed for smaller lawns of up to about 1,000 square meters. That’s because it uses a smaller spinning disk to cut with compared to the others listed here. Also, its battery is smaller and its motor noisier, but you’re still good to use it at night. Its battery lasts about 60 minutes, before requiring a 90 minute charge, but with its range of about 1,000 square meters, there’s plenty of room here for the Landroid to work and, hey, it’s not like it matters if it cuts the a large lawn in two separate jobs—you’re not pushing it around after all.
A dial allows you to tweak the cutting height, but you can also create a cutting schedule too. It’s possible to arrange to cut specific areas of the lawn at different times of day, for instance. Don’t expect to do any of this in damp weather though, as the Landroid’s rain sensors will send it back to base the moment rain is detected. Further, don’t expect trim jobs on a slope steeper than 20 degrees.
Despite those few limitations, the Worx Landroid is worth checking out if you’re keen to buy a robotic lawnmower but can’t stretch to the more expensive mowers. It does the job for small gardens pretty well, and saves you a ton of effort.
Best For Hills: McCulloch ROB 1000 ($1300)
One of the key issues to consider when buying a robotic lawnmower is whether your lawn is a little too hilly forits comfort. Many lawnmowers struggle with a steep grade but the McCulloch ROB 1000 tolerates so much more than most. It’ll happily cope with a maximum grade of 25 degrees—a solid 5 degree improvement over many of its rivals.
Setup should take around an hour for an average yard and requires you to set a boundary wire in the soil. Admittedly, the ROB 1000 doesn’t cover the widest of areas compared to the alternatives (expect about 1,000 square meters), but it has a powerful blade that will make short work of that area. Many owners report the blade design is well suited to tough thicker grasses. It’s super quiet too at about 57 decibels.
Best For Perfect Edges: Robomow RS630 ($2500)
As any regular gardener knows, the tricky part about cutting your lawn is getting the perfect edge. Oftentimes, you need a good quality string trimmer to take around the edges so you don’t end up with any wispy bits sticking up and making your lawn look messy. Many robotic lawnmowers aren’t so good at the finer details, but the Robomow RS630 is a notable exception. Its edge mode will happily correct most edging, saving you the effort of doing it manually.
Besides that, it covers an impressive 3,000 square meters quickly, with a strong cutting system that provides you with more height options than most of its competitors. Such a cutting system also means it’s good to deal with rough grass, easily chopping through any potential issues or pitfalls. The edge trimming tech and the wide operating area explains the hefty price tag, but if you want a robotic lawnmower that will make your neat lawn fantasies a reality, this one’s hard to beat.
Best for a big garden: Husqvarna Automower 430X ($2500)
The Husqvarna Automower 430X is a lot like the Robomow RS630 (albeit with a Batman style exterior) but ever so slightly better. At least, depending on what you need it for. There’s no neat edge mode like the Robomow, but it can tackle a larger area—this time around, up to 3,200 square meters. There’s a height adjustment feature that’s easy to adjust, allowing you to cut from anywhere between 20 and 60mm. It’s all great if typical of a premium priced robotic lawnmower.
Where the Husqvarna Automower 430X gets a little better is through the addition of its Spot Cutting mode. The mode enables you to switch the mower to mowing in a spiral fashion, focusing all its efforts on one area, proving super useful if a part of your lawn is outpacing the rest of the lawn and needs a touch up.
Battery life wise, it takes 65 minutes to charge but lasts for 135 minutes so you don’t have to worry about it returning to base too often. Perhaps best of all, there’s GPS capabilities so the mower will create a map of your garden and correctly determine the best route, and where it’s already mowed. It’s worth the extra money.