Gardening tips, Lawn mowing,

The Pros and Cons of a Robot Lawnmower

Not all robots are out to take over the planet (or steal our jobs). Some robots are here to take the hassle out of mowing. Find out the pros and cons of these convenient gadgets.

11 MIN 28 Jul
Last update: 03 Aug 2023
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It seems that not all robots are out to take over humanity — some, it seems, are here to mow the lawn! Yes, the robot lawnmower is much more invested in maintaining your turf than shooting us in the head in a new world takeover. And for that, we can be thankful.

Table of contents:
  • What is a robotic lawnmower?
  • How does a robot lawnmower work?
  • Does a robotic lawnmower do all of the mowing?
  • Types of robotic lawn mowers
  • How much does a robot lawnmower cost?
  • The ideal lawn for a robot lawnmower
  • Advantages of robot lawnmowers
  • The disadvantages of robot lawnmowers
  • Robot lawnmowers vs conventional mowers
  • Installing your robot lawnmower
  • FAQ

However, robotic lawn mowers aren’t all advantages; it’s crucial to understand both sides of the new age mower — and that’s what we’re going to explore here. 

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of a robotic lawn mower, from the time-saving to the darker side of AI mowers! 

Ready? Let’s go!

What is a robotic lawnmower?

Black and orange robot lawnmower on a lawn.
Robot lawnmowers are convenient, small, and take up less space in the shed!

Personally, I enjoy mowing — it means you can keep an eye on your lawn, and it’s good exercise. It gets me out in the open air and in touch with the earth — so, do I really need a robot lawn mower?

A robotic lawnmower is an autonomous device designed to take the hassle out of mowing your lawn, which could be a particular boon if you have a large or unusually shaped lawn. 

The machine is equipped with a rotating blade, which effortlessly cuts the grass over a predetermined area. They work according to a specified mowing schedule and use sensors to avoid obstacles so they can mow efficiently and evenly. 

And best of all, your robot mows your lawn regularly, helping your grass plants develop into a healthy and dense turf. 

How does a robot lawnmower work?

Sensors, control software, and an electric drive system control robotic lawnmowers. 

Initially, many models require that you set up boundary wires, which helps the robot follow a predefined mowing pattern. This is to ensure that the machine trims your grass evenly, using sensors to avoid obstacles.

Many robotic lawnmowers have a mulching function that distributes chopped grass across your lawn, which can contribute to the ongoing health of your lawn — effectively returning the nutrients chopped off by the mower back to the earth. 

Just before the robot’s battery dies, it makes its own way back to its charging station and then continues its job once it has recharged. 

Does a robotic lawnmower do all of the mowing?

A man mowing a lawn with an electric mower
If you let your grass grow too long, you’ll need to do a manual mow with a traditional mower because robots don’t tackle long grass very easily.

This is where we stumble upon our first disadvantages because many small robotic mowers aren’t great at trimming the edges and can struggle with tall grass or weeds in hard-to-reach places. 

Lawn doctor Louis says:

Robot lawnmowers often miss the edges and hard-to-reach areas — but you can do these areas yourself in minutes with a traditional mower or trimmer. 

Types of robotic lawn mowers

There are several types of robot lawnmowers, each with unique functions that contribute to taking the effort out of mowing. 

Let’s take a closer look:

Standard robotic lawnmower

This is an ideal model for small areas and regular use. Equipped with all the basic functions, such as automated mowing, obstacle avoidance, and self-loading/emptying. 

Large-area robotic lawnmowers

As the name suggests, this style of robot is ideal for more extensive lawns, suitable for parks, sports fields, and golf courses. They have higher-capacity batteries and increased range. 

Slope robotic lawnmowers

I love mowing on a slope — said no one on the planet. Slopes and hills are really challenging for a mower to navigate, so a robotic lawnmower designed for slopes (but equally useful for the flat as well!) will always be welcome. With improved traction and stability to tackle tricky off-piste lawns! 

GPS-powered lawnmowers

You’re unlikely to need a GPS-enabled lawnmower for a domestic lawn, but you never know, I guess. If you have an orchard or field that needs regular mowing, you might consider investing in a lawnmower that will never get lost in the wild! 

Robot lawnmower with app control

If your robot is WIFI-enabled, you can control it with an app on your smartphone. And why wouldn’t you want that? With an app-controlled model, you can customise a mowing schedule while remotely controlling the mower — changing settings with your smartphone as you go. Great for holiday mowing! 

Hybrid robotic lawnmowers

You can also run these robot lawnmowers manually, like a conventional mower. These are really helpful for lawns of unusual shapes. 

Robot mower with mulching functionality

Many robot mowers have a mulching function, shredding the cuttings into small pieces which are spread across the lawn — the perfect, natural fertiliser! 

Lawn doctor Louis says:

One of the disadvantages of a mulching mower is that you’ll need to aerate your soil and scarify your turf more regularly. Mulch builds an organic layer over the soil surface, which can suffocate your lawn.

Not sure how to aerate or scarify? Check out our expert articles:

Aerating your lawn — everything you need to know (including tips & tricks)

Lawn scarification — all you need to know (with a clear step-by-step plan)

How much does a robot lawnmower cost?

And this is where we fall into the principal disadvantage, but robotic mowers are not cheap! Depending on the make, model, and feature set, they generally start at around £350 and can go anywhere up to £7000. Of course, you can always find a cheap model, but is it really worth spending less on something likely to produce disappointing results?

Compare that with a standard hover mower, which you can buy for around £70 or less. 

Lawn doctor Louis says:

You may have to buy additional accessories with your robot lawn mower, such as boundary wires, spare blades, and spare parts. So, factor that into the costs of the machine. You’ll also need to replace the battery at some stage.

The ideal lawn for a robot lawnmower

Generally speaking, the flatter and straighter your lawn, the more efficiently a robot lawnmower will complete the job. 

Robots can find it a little awkward to navigate a small lawn — you may find you need to do a lot of fine-tuning of the route (and may need to do some manual cutting in areas it has missed). 

Indeed, the technology is generally suited to larger lawns. After all, large grassed areas take longer to mow, so the designers have focused on those properties. 

If you have hills or slopes, choose a model designed for inclines. They cope well around trees, flowerbeds, and other solid obstacles — just make sure you clear the lawn of moveable obstacles, like garden furniture before it runs. 

Advantages of robot lawnmowers

A robot mower mowing a slope
Robot mowers help you mow slopes more safely. Image by Alfred Derks from Pixabay

The most obvious advantage is that you don’t have to mow your lawn, saving you lots of time. You can set your mower to cut twice a week in summer for optimal lawn health and vitality — not that many of us have time to mow twice a week, after all. 

Another advantage is a robot can achieve a very even cut — it has the patience to get it right. Your lawn will look well-groomed and healthy. 

Employing a robot means no more pushing, bending, or lifting, so it can be an excellent boon for backache sufferers. 

And the mulching function of some robot lawnmowers means that the nutrients you usually cut away from your grass plants and throw away are returned to the soil. 

Finally, lawnmowers run on electricity rather than petrol or diesel and are often quieter than conventional mowers. 

The disadvantages of robot lawnmowers

A grass strimmer slicing through grass.
Robot lawnmowers aren’t great at doing the edges, so you’ll still need to get the trimmer out.

These ingenious gadgets have revolutionised lawn care for some of us, but the technology has downsides. 

The principal disadvantages are:

  • Cost — as mentioned, robot mowers are expensive. However, the tech is still relatively young and will doubtless become more affordable over time. 
  • Not every robot mower suits all garden types, so you must research before buying. 
  • A robot mower needs regular maintenance and repairs. Remember, the better you care for your equipment, the lower the lifetime running costs will likely be. 
  • Limited battery life — a mower might struggle to mow a large lawn on one charge. So, you’ll need to be patient! 
  • Theft — ideally, you could leave your robot mower outdoors and let it charge itself as it needs. However, these are high-value items, and they’re often stolen. So, make sure you buy a model with inbuilt security measures, such as a PIN code function. 
  • Fine-tuning — the robot will mow most of the lawn, but you’ll need to do some touching up around the edges and in awkward corners. 

Robot lawnmowers vs conventional mowers

Someone emptying the grass collector box on a mower
Emptying the grass collector will be a thing of the past with a robot mower, which mulches the grass for you.

There are many factors to consider if you’re in the market for a new mower. Indeed, a robot mower might be the right choice for you. 

But before you take the plunge, consider the following:

Conventional lawnmower

You can pick up an effective and efficient conventional mower for as little as £70. Of course, you’d expect to pay considerably more for models with premium functionality. But traditional mowers are great for anyone on a budget. 

One of the reasons I love using a conventional mower is because you literally connect with your lawn — you can see first-hand how your grass plants are doing. And — as such — you can address issues that you spot. 

And mowing the lawn is good exercise. 

Robot lawnmower

The most significant advantage, of course, is the time-saving element. But, also, a robot lawnmower creates a uniform cut — it follows a predetermined path and repeats it precisely each time it runs over the lawn. 

So, robot lawnmowers are convenient, and some come with handy functions, such as mulching. 

Installing your robot lawnmower

Setting your robot lawnmower up for action is generally fairly straightforward. Of course, each model and brand will differ slightly, but these are the general instructions:

Step 1 — Prepare the lawn

Clear obstacles out of the way, such as toys, rocks, stones, and fallen branches. These get in the way and will result in an uneven cut. Remember, keep your lawn fertilised, watered, and free of pests and diseases. 

Step 2 — Narrow down the mowing area

Decide in advance which areas of your lawn your mower needs to cover and those it should avoid. Route the boundary wire around the mowing area, ensuring it’s taut and evenly stretched with no tangles. 

Step 3 — Install the charging station

Choose a suitable position for the charging station, protected from the weather. Place it on a flat surface close to a power outlet. 

Plug the boundary wire into the charging station so the robot lawnmower can find its starting and ending position. 

Step 4 — Set up the mower

Read the instruction manual and familiarise yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions. Switch the mower on, then set up the mowing schedule, cutting height, and any other options your make and model offers. Take it for a test drive, ensuring the robot responds correctly to the boundary wire and charging station. 

Step 5 — Check the cut

Once the robot has completed the first mow, inspect the results, ensuring it hasn’t missed any areas or cut too long or short. If necessary, adjust the mowing schedule. 


Are robot lawnmowers good or bad?

It depends on your perspective. Robot lawnmowers make your lawn look neater, taking all the effort out of mowing! One of the advantages of robot lawnmowers is that it cuts the lawn consistently each time, and of course, it does it automatically, saving you time. 

What are the disadvantages of robot lawnmowers?

Some robotic lawnmowers aren’t always particularly accurate, especially around the edges of your lawn. So, you may need a once-over with the strimmer after the robot has completed its cycle. Also, the mower has limited battery life, so it might require several charges to complete the task if you have a large lawn. 

Is a robot lawnmower dangerous?

Robot lawnmowers have built-in sensors that prevent them from running into obstacles and causing damage to pets and other equipment. But remember, all electrical tools are dangerous in the wrong hands. Don’t worry — robot lawnmowers are not going to take over the world!

Any questions?

I hope I’ve given you food for thought regarding robot lawnmowers. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Or check out our Help & Advice section — for everything garden and lawn-related. 

Thanks for reading! And happy mowing. 

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