Issue November-26
To mow or not to mow?
That is the question.

I believe many people toy with the idea of getting a robot to mow their lawn. Of course it depends very much on the size, layout and complexity as to whether it is even feasible but I am certain most lawns unless they are really tiny can be looked after by a robot.

Right from the beginning I had three problem areas which needed to be considered.

First I have dogs and as we all know dogs leave stuff behind them which needs to be disposed of. Second, this also associated with my dogs, was my worry that they would be permanently bringing in grass clippings. Normally if you mow in a conventional manner the clippings are not too small and either the mower collects them or you can rake them up yourself. Third was the problem, not untypical, that I have a smallish front garden, which unfortunately is not connected to the main back garden in a way that a mower could traverse on its own from one to the other.

Problem number one is of course solvable if you go out with your poo bags every time the dogs have been out or at least early in the morning, depending on how you set the timer, before he starts his automatic schedule. i was not convinced that I would be able to achieve the amount of necessary discipline but I had read a review on Amazon and there somebody stated that it was no problem because the robot would trash the poo and you would just need to hose him down occasionally. So I thought I would risk that one. As it happens, I do manage to pick most up before the robot gets to it but if not he flattens it with his two rear driving wheels. Not totally pleasant but not a a huge problem either.

Problem number two, the clippings is a non problem. I don't know why but the clippings seem to be so small that they disappear into the surrounding grass and my dogs never bring anything in. What type of dogs? A very hairy Golden Retriever who loves rolling on the lawn and a Hungarian Puli also with plenty of hair to pick stuff up. Normally Pulis will have dreadlocks which mean you don't know what is front and rear but mine is clipped once a year. However she does bring In leaves, particularly unpleasant Holly leaves which brings me to a point I had originally not thought about. The robot does not pick up leaves. Normal mowers suck any leaves they go over up into their blades. A robot works quite differently so they don't get picked up. If push comes to shove I will have to go round occasionally and rake them in.

My last problem with the two separate areas was actually easy to solve but I am lucky in that there is a path and some bushes that go up the side of the house and join both areas, I am not sure if all robots will do this but my Husqvarna can be picked up, put on the smaller front lawn and with the push of a button be told he is in a secondary area where there is no charging point. Actually with a couple more button presses you can tell him how long to mow for or to keep going until he runs out of juice.

In order for this to work you need to be able to join the main boundary wires where his charging station and associated controller is with the secondary area. For me it meant laying a pair of cables up the side of the house. So in effect I have a figure of eight boundary wire. No big deal.

"The Boundary Wires"


A daunting proposition I thought, but I read that they don't need to be buried, just pegged down with the 200 pegs that came with him. That is unfortunately as I learned not quite true.

When the robot gets to the edge of the mowing area and crosses the boundary cables,mine does what seems sometimes almost to be a little dance before he decides where he wants to go to next. To do this he goes backwards and forwards using his rear driving wheels which unfortunately have the tendency to scuff up and loosen the cable where it is not buried. So with time I have buried most of the cable and that is actually not such a terrible job as one might imagine. It is not as though though you need to dig a WW1 trench to hide the cables, all that is necessary is to cut a slit, I used an edge trimmer, and pushed the cable down into it.

I am not sure if all robots are the same but mine runs over the boundary cable until it is about midway under him. Then he turns round.

Scuffing has also been a problem in places because my garden is a slope and where the ground has got very soft due to the frequent Weymouth downpours he digs ruts and has occasionally got stuck. To solve this I bought some netting, officially grass protection mesh, which you lay on the grass and it is really supposed to make it possible to drive on the lawn. Supposedly within a short time the grass grows up through it and you won't see it.

"Why did I get a robot in the first place?"


Due to a longer bout of ill health, which ended up with not being able to walk at all, I employed somebody to mow the lawn, but unfortunately he could not get rid of the clippings which I still needed to get to the tip and also the standard was not good. The edges of that lawn were never mowed properly. Of course this all costs money but so does the robot and it will take a couple of years for him to amortise. But I have no expense getting rid of the clippings and the grass is neat and tidy no matter how bad the weather is. It doesn't seem to be a problem even if it is pouring with rain he just keeps on mowing.


The mower I have can be set to run on specific days and between which hours. Given these parameters he usually does two runs a day with a charging break in between. You don't need to program that part at all. Some people might prefer to have the robot only working in the afternoon or whenever. Mine starts at eight and finishes at the latest at two. To optimise battery life it does not mow up until the last time but based on the area will do a certain number of runs. Again there is no need to program this. All magic. l was told that areas that grow faster are recognisable by the software due to the increased drag and these areas automatically get mowed more often.

"How does it cut? Is it noisy?"  

The robot has a metal disc about 12" in diameter on the underside the disc rotates as it moves whereby there are times when the disc is switched off. On the edge of the disc are three very small blades which one can replace. In fact mine came with a spare set. So it requires almost no power to spin this disc and chop tiny pieces of grass. I remember the first time I sent him off to work that at first I could see nothing. There was no real trace of where had been cut as you would with a regular lawn mower. But when I came back after an hour to check I was absolutely amazed that the uneven lawn was now evenly cut and looking really neat.

I can hardly hear the robot working. I don't think anybody could be disturbed by the cutting sound. What I hear, because the garden is slightly uneven is the noise of the wheels when he crosses dents and uneven patches.

"Which make?"  

Originally I had bought a Gardena having always had good experience with Gardena equipment. So when it came unpacked everything, laid the boundary wire and put it in its garage to charge. But nothing happened. It did nothing so a call to Amazon and they said we will pick it up the day after tomorrow and send you a new one. Super service, you can't fault that one. The next day the replacement arrived. Was put in the garage and what happened? Nothing. Again it wouldn't charge or do anything.

Again I put in a request for a return with money back this time and the robot, now two of them was picked up a few days later I received my payment back.

Determined not to give up I rang around local dealers to see what I could get. i still had the boundary wires buried all round the back garden.

I came across a dealer in Dorchester who deals both with Gardena and with Husqvarna. the boundary wire system is identical in fact the same parts because Gardena belongs to Husqvarna. It was about lunchtime and the guy from the dealership said he would come round later that afternoon and make sure that a new Husqvarna would work OK for me. He did as promised and so I now have the Husqvarna. This does not have a phone app in spite of being more expensive but I can't imagine what I would need an app for. He also told me that the problem with the first two robots was that when Gardena send them from Germany an EU rule states that they may only be minimally charged. What happens then is go flat and are ruined.

"Would I buy it again?"  


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