Robot lawn mowers — 5 reasons to buy and 5 reasons to skip

An orange robot lawn mower cutting the lawn around flower beds
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A green, lush, and neatly trimmed lawn is every garden lover's dream. The keenest gardeners amongst us can dedicate a lot of time to lawn care, whether it’s figuring out how to make your grass greener or how to mow perfect stripes, creating a flawless lawn is serious business.

If you’ve been lucky enough to own one of the best robot vacuums you’ll know that robots can be very efficient home helpers. And since gardens, like homes, require continued maintenance, handing over the frequent but straightforward task of cutting the grass to a robot lawn mower could save you several hours a month.

However, these automatic and smart lawn mowers are an investment, so how do you know whether to ditch your trusty mower and upgrade to a robot? Read on as we delve into the positives and negatives to robot lawn mowers so you can work out whether a robot will be right for your lawn.

And in the meantime read about these common lawn care mistakes you’re probably making.

5 reasons to buy a robot lawn mower 

1. Improved lawn health

Frequent mowing is much better for the health of your lawn than less frequent mowing. It helps keep weeds at bay since most weeds don’t grow or spread well when a lawn is regularly mowed. What’s more, robot lawn mowers redeposit lawn clippings back onto the grass; these then break down and act as a compost, improving both the health of the soil and the grass, thus reducing the frequency that you’ll need to add lawn feed or fertilizers.

A robot lawn mower mowing the grass with someone sitting in a lawn chair in the background

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

2. Convenient 

If your busy schedule means you struggle to find the time to keep your lawn perfectly trimmed, or if mobility issues are making it difficult, a robot lawn mower can really help you out. Admittedly, you could pay someone else to cut it for you, but with a robot, you’re still in charge. You get to set the cutting height and the schedule, and you don’t need to let someone onto your property every week.

3. Safe

There's no need to worry about letting an automatic grass cutter loose on your lawn, these robots are packed with sensors and integrated safety features. If it gets lifted by a child or tumbles and lands upside down, sensors will stop the blades instantly. Similarly, collision detection sensors will stop it before it bumps into anything. Plus, the blades are much smaller than you’ll see on a conventional mower — think a razor blade compared to a 16-inch piece of steel — which combined with a significantly weaker motor, means these robots are actually considered safer than a standard mower.

A robot lawn mower cutting the grass in the sunlight

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

4. Quiet

In comparison to standard push along mowers, a robot lawn mower is exceptionally quiet. And if you’re used to a big gas-powered mower, you’ll really notice the reduction in noise level. If your neighbors are close by, they’ll welcome the peace and quiet, particularly if any of them work night shifts and need to sleep in the day. 

An additional benefit is that unlike gas-powered mowers, these electric mowers don’t produce emissions, which means a reduction in localized air pollution for you and your neighbors.

5. No piles of lawn clippings

By regularly nibbling away at your lawn, the robot mower is only shaving off a tiny amount of grass every time. The pieces are so small, you shouldn’t even notice that they’ve been deposited back onto the lawn. Not only does this benefit the lawn health but it also means you don’t have a huge pile of cut grass to deal with every week.

 5 reasons to skip a robot lawn mower 

1. Say goodbye to stripes

Unfortunately you can’t have everything, and if you want a robot to do the work for you, you'll have to be prepared to forgo those satisfying stripes on your lawn. That’s because robot lawn mowers mow in random directions, and even when they do go in a straight line, they don’t achieve defined stripes due to the lack of a roller on board. Although, it must be said that the technology is advancing quickly and we are starting to see models designed to mow stripes, so watch this space!

A robot lawn mower cutting the grass

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

2. Can get stuck in holes

While they’re adept at tackling slopes and hills up to a 35% gradient, most robots won’t manage to get out of holes easily. So if your dog likes to dig holes in the lawn, this may present too much of a challenge for a robot lawn mower.

3. Expensive

Although it’s common to find robot lawn mowers for as little as $650, most cost well in excess of $1,000 and some of the more expensive models will set you back up to $5,000. And when you consider that you can get a decent manual electric mower for under $200, it’s hard to justify the price difference when your budget is tight.

A robot lawn mower cutting the grass around the edge of the lawn

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

4. You’ll still have to trim edges 

The blades on a robot mower are set quite far in from the outer plastic casing. So even if it mows right up to your fence, it’ll still leave a strip all around the edge that’ll need to be trimmed. And this will be frustrating if you were hoping for a completely hands-off solution.

5. Initial setup can be time consuming

To keep a robot mower on your lawn and stop it from mowing your flower beds or taking off down the street, you’ll have to set up a perimeter. Most robot mowers come with a wire that attaches to the charger and emits a signal that the robot detects and interprets as a boundary.

This wire needs to be installed around the edge of the lawn. And depending on the size and layout of your lawn, this initial setup can be a lengthy process, even more so if you go down the more aesthetically pleasing route of burying the wire to keep it hidden.

If you’re not convinced a robot lawn mower is for you, here are 5 reasons to buy an electric lawnmower.  You may also be interested in how to store a lawn mower and protect it during the winter, how to get the most out of your lawn mower and will 2024 be the year of the robot lawn mower.

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Helen McCue

Helen started reviewing home and kitchen appliances in 2007 at the Good Housekeeping Institute and has never looked back. She’s now freelance and reviews all sorts of appliances from her home in a pretty village in the UK. Despite having reviewed hundreds of coffee machines in her time, she’s only recently developed a love for coffee and a daily coffee habit, which makes tasting all those coffees much more enjoyable!