Should I buy a robot lawn mower?

Robot lawn mower on grass
(Image credit: Alamy)

Robots have been making our lives easier for years now. With everything from robot vacuums to smart coffee makers, there’s never a shortage of household tasks ready to be robotized. If you’re like me and live in a place where the grass grows like crazy in the summertime, it sure would be nice to hand off that task to an automated companion.

The tricky part is that the best robot lawn mowers tend to be more expensive than even the best robot vacuums and coffee makers, so it can be hard to know if they’re really worth the investment. And as with any piece of technology, there are always pros and cons to consider. 

Martin is the co-founder of Retaining Wall Supplies and a recognized lawn care and landscaping expert. He shared his thoughts with us on some of the pros and cons of investing in robot mowers.

“On the upside, these nifty gadgets can save you time and effort by automating the mowing process. They're particularly handy for larger lawns or if you simply want to rеclaim your weekends. Plus, robot mowers can help maintain a consistent and healthy lawn by cutting morе frеquеntly.

"There are downsides to keep in mind. Upfront costs can be steep and not all models are created equal in terms of performance and durability. You also need to set up boundariеs for them and ensure they can handle your specific lawn terrain. And while they reduce the need for manual mowing, you'll still need to perform occasional maintenancе on the robot mower itself. So, it's essential to weigh the convenience against the initial investment and ongoing upkeep to determine if a robot mower is the right choice for your lawn care needs.” 

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Headshot: Marvin Magsura
Expert Commentator
Marvin Magsura

Marvin Magsura is a recognized lawn and landscaping expert and co-founder of Retaining Wall Supplies. He also has a diverse portfolio of thriving businesses spanning the globe. His expertise doesn’t just stop at retaining walls; it spans a comprehensive range of landscaping needs, from soil management to intricate garden designs.

So, we've put together a rundown of what you need to know when considering a robot lawn mower.

What is a robot lawn mower?

If you’ve ever seen a robot vacuum, robot mowers are very similar. It’s a small robot that uses its smarts - and soon to be lots of AI - to regularly cut your grass. Much like a robot vacuum, you have lots of control over how it does this, with everything from scheduling the cut times to how high the blades are when it mows the grass. And the higher-end models offer even more features like spot cutting and uneven grass detection.  

Robot lawn mower

(Image credit: Alamy)

Do I need a robot lawn mower?

The most obvious case for having a robot lawn mower is for those who have a fairly large yard. If you live in an apartment or townhome with very little grass to worry about, then spending the money for a robot lawn mower may not be worth it. For those with larger yards like myself, then having a robot mower makes more sense. 

It’s also helpful to consider the type of grass you have and how quickly it grows. In Texas where I live, the grass grows ridiculously fast during the summer, so having a robot lawn mower is pretty useful to help me stay on top of it. For those in climates where you don’t need to mow as often, it's worth asking whether the investment is worth it. 

Will a robot mower work with my lawn?

In most cases, yes. Most mowers these days are capable of handling most lawns that need a traditional push mower as well as slopes and hills. While the earliest models often needed a barrier wire planted in the ground, most of them today rely on some combination of cameras, GPS, and software to navigate around the yard.

luba mowing the lawn

(Image credit: Future / Alex Temblador)

The part that can be the most challenging is covering the multiple sections of the yard. For example, some mowers simply aren’t smart enough to recognize there’s another part of the lawn across the sidewalk and won’t cross over it automatically. The same holds true for moving from the front yard to the back yard. If they are connected, then you should be ok, otherwise, you might need to drive it or even pick it up to move it.

One thing to keep in mind here is battery life. The more features you have scattered around your yard, the more time and battery power are used up mowing the whole thing. Which means you might need to spend a little more to get one with a larger battery. Ultimately, it may not impact your decision too much, but it is something to consider. 

How are they different from regular lawn mowers?

Aside from the obvious lack of manual labor involved, there are some other differences. For example, they are all battery powered whereas many push mowers still use gasoline. Robot mowers are also designed to cut much more frequently than when using a push mower. In the winter when the grass grows more slowly, they may only run once a week or so, but in the summertime, they’re designed to run every day to keep the grass under control.

Robot mowers are also different in the way they cut the grass. Since they run daily, they don’t need to cut off inches at a time and instead focus on taking just a little bit of the grass off every day. And since the clippings are so small, they’re fine to just leave on the grass instead of having to bag them. 

Then there are the smart features (certainly smarter than the clumsy human that pushes my mower). By nature, robot mowers are powered by computers and when paired with a smartphone, there are all sorts of new features you can unlock. You can set a routine or schedule when it needs to run, you can have it even out uneven spots in the yard, and even sometimes change the pattern it follows when cutting if you want. Needless to say, while the outcome is the same, robot mowers are much more advanced than traditional push mowers.

How well do robot lawn mowers work?

This might depend a bit on what you’re hoping to get out of a robot lawn mower, but in general, if you’re looking to simply not have to mow your lawn regularly to keep it well-groomed and healthy, then robot mowers are quite effective. Nothing is perfect of course, and every model will bring its own challenges, but most reviews speak highly of nearly all robot mowers, and in general, they get the job done. 

It’s also important to remember that you’ll still have to help out with some of the lawn maintenance as well. No robot mower will be able to cut edges effectively, particularly along fence lines,  and you’ll want to make sure it’s relatively clean and maintained so it will last as long as possible. 

Robot lawn mower on grass

(Image credit: Alamy)

What are some of the best robot lawn mower brands?

There are quite a few companies making robot lawn mowers these days, but there are certainly some that stand out from the crowd. Husqvarna tops most lists of best robot mowers and for good reason; they’ve been making high quality lawn care tools and machines for decades, and they were one of the first companies to make robot mowers. However, they do tend to be more expensive than others. Worx, Robomow, and Gardena also make pretty solid robot mowers, but always research before you decide.  

Should I buy a robot lawn mower? Our verdict

For most of us, cost will be the main deciding factor in purchasing a robot lawn mower. They aren’t cheap and it’s not a completely set-and-forget situation meaning you’ll still need to do at least some yard work, even with the robot mower. You’ll also want to make sure you have a good-sized lawn and you live in a climate that’s conducive to them. 

There are undoubtedly a lot of advantages to having a robot mower. It can save you quite a bit of time and, since you don’t need to bag the clippings, it’s better for the environment and your lawn. Plus, you know you’ll be getting a consistent cut of your grass potentially without having to lift a finger. 

If you decide to get one, be sure to check out our reviews to help you make the best choice for you. 

Jason Cockerham
Freelance Contributor

Jason has been writing about tech products for nearly a decade covering everything from smartphones to smart light bulbs. He has written for publications such as Android Central, iMore, CrackBerry, TopTenReviews, and more. When he’s not writing about the latest tech gadgets, he’s usually chasing his kids around, playing video games, or Netflixing (and folding laundry) with his wife.