Indego M 700
The growing trend of household appliances that take the hassle out of everyday chores has extended to the garden with robot lawn mowers. Our high-scoring robot lawn mowers are easy to set up and automatically keep a distance from your flower beds and other obstacles.
Keep scrolling as we take a closer look at how to buy a robot lawn mower. We have details on how robot lawn mowers work and how much you can expect to pay. Plus, we've included links to the most impressive robot lawn mowers to pass through our rigorous lab tests.
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Robot lawn mowers work in much the same way as robot vacuum cleaners that clean up without any input from the owner, but robot mowers take care of your lawn. They work their way around an area marked by border wire.
Some models are capable of maintaining 5,000sq m plots or more, making them well-suited to anyone with a lot of ground to cover. They also appeal to anyone wanting a fuss-free way of keeping their garden looking neat and tidy, and to less-able gardeners who may struggle to push around a heavy mower.
You'll need to pay a premium to have a robot mower cut the grass for you on a Sunday afternoon. Most models will cost over £500, with some on sale for closer to £1,000 or more.
The pricier mowers, which can cost upwards of £2,500, can cover huge surface areas of 5,000sq m or more whereas cheaper models, which you can buy for around £600 or even less, can manage lawns of around 400sq m, which is about the size of one and a half tennis courts.
Consider which features you need, such as the ability to tackle slopes or to control the robot mower from your smartphone, as these will help dictate your budget.
This robot mower is Ideal for anyone with a large lawn leaving an excellent finish at every cutting height and all conditions. It copes well with damp grass with minimal clumping of the cuttings. It's also easy to install and easy to programme manually.Sign up to reveal
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This robot mower is great at cutting grass, leaving an excellent finish on a standard lawn at every cutting height. It copes well with damp grass with minimal clumping of the cuttings, and while it might be a bit slow at getting round the lawn when the grass is long it will leave a neat finish.Sign up to reveal
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Once they're set up, robot mowers can be completely autonomous. There's usually no need to switch them on or keep an eye on them and, of course, there's no pushing required. The mower can come on at times scheduled by you, cut your grass and return to its charging dock to power up its battery ready for the next cut.
Many robot lawn mowers work by creating a map of your lawn to make sure they don't go over the edges into your borders. When they cut, most do so in a random pattern and it may look as though your mower has gone haywire, but good ones won't stop until they have cut every square inch of your lawn. Some do cut in methodical straight lines, though.
Most have sensors, so they'll stop if they encounter any obstacles and continue cutting in a different direction. It's best to remove any large obstacles, such as children's toys and garden tools, but odd-shaped lawns or bushes and trees planted throughout your garden shouldn't be an issue for a top-notch robot mower.
You don't need to empty a robot lawn mower. Rather than collecting the cuttings, the mower cuts them up finely and leaves them on the lawn as mulch to encourage healthy grass and help prevent weeds.
Assuming that you don't have any issues further down the line, setting up your robot lawn mower could be the first and last time you interact with it. Most of the setup is done on the device itself, or a smartphone app.
Before you let your robot mower loose on your garden, you need to lay a perimeter wire (below) so the mower can detect the boundaries. The wire also helps orientate the mower and guide it back to the charging dock. The wire is secured by pegs and is fairly inconspicuous, but some manufacturers and dealers will even lay the wire underground if you want it to be fully invisible.
The wire connects to the charging dock, which requires mains power, so make sure you set it up within reach of an outlet. Some manufacturers and dealers will install the wire and charging dock for you.
Once your wire is down, you can start programming your robot lawn mower. Generally, this will mean setting the date, time and how often you want it to cut the grass. There are some smart mowers that connect with an app on your smartphone, too. You can use the app to control the mower if you think the lawn needs an ad hoc trim, otherwise you'd need to use the controls on the mower itself.
Every robot mower has a maximum lawn size that it can cut. This is usually measured in square metres. Don't assume that a mower that covers less distance, or has less battery life, can do your entire garden in two trips. The mower may not come with enough perimeter wire to cover a bigger garden or it may not be able to travel far enough from its dock.
Most robot lawn mowers can handle a bit of a hill, but some can manage steeper inclines better than others. If your garden has any slopes then make sure the mower you choose has the power to get up them and keep cutting as it goes. For every robot mower we test, we record the maximum gradient the machine can navigate.
If your garden gets a lot of rain, then it may be worth investing in a mower that can cut grass in wet conditions. Some mowers struggle to cut wet grass, while others return to their dock automatically when the rain starts falling.
Smart robot mowers are tuned in to weather tracking to optimise cutting at the best conditions. The , for example, uses a weather tracking system to cancel the usual cycle if the weather is too bad at the scheduled time for it to cut well.
If your lawn is separated by fences or paths, you might need to buy a multi-zone mower. This is also useful if you'd like your mower to do the front lawn as well as the back.
Some models ask you set a base zone, which is mowed automatically to the schedule, while the numbered zones require you to manually start the mower and tell it which area to cut. If the mower can't access one of your areas, then you'll need to carry or wheel it there yourself.
Both types should be more than capable of cutting grass, but they aren't equal if they come into contact with something harder. Pivoting blades can move if they spin against any hard objects. Fixed blades don't, meaning they are more likely to get stuck on anything solid in your garden, such as toys.
Generally, the larger mowers that cover more ground also have the largest batteries, but machines designed for a smaller garden should be able to trim the whole thing on one charge. If you've got a multi-zone mower then it may need to charge between areas. Some mowers can charge to full in 45 minutes, while others take a whopping 16 hours. In other words, you may need to wait more than half a day before your mower can finish all of your zones.
It's important to note that you rarely get an exact measurable battery life from a robot mower as it uses a variable amount of power each time it runs. It mostly depends on the size of the area it's cutting, how much effort it needs to cut the grass, and the conditions.
In our lab tests, we measure the run time and charging time over a period of a month's cutting on various grass types and conditions to work out an accurate average run time.
It depends on which model you purchase. While they're generally more eco-friendly than bulky petrol mowers, some robot lawn mowers take an excessive amount of time to charge, which uses a lot of power.
You also need to consider how easy it is to dispose of the batteries when they eventually need replacing. Lithium-ion batteries can usually be recycled at your , but they're not always very easy (or cheap) to replace. Before you make your purchase, take a look at how readily available replacement batteries are, as well as how much they cost.
If you've got lots of wildlife in your garden, you may also want to stop and think about how a robot mower will fit in with this. Due to their automated nature, they cannot distinguish between natural obstacles and living wildlife, with smaller animals like hedgehogs and baby rabbits particularly at risk.
To minimise your robot mower's potential impact on wildlife, consider the following:
Bosch's range of robot lawn mowers includes the (below) and the . Both models are similar, but the 500 can handle lawns up to 500sq m, while the M+ 700 has a maximum lawn size of 700sq m. They also both have an app that lets you control and monitor your mower remotely.
Bosch mowers are some of the only models that cut your grass in parallel lines. Although they won't leave stripes, this mowing method reduces lawn stress.
Both mowers have adjustable blades, so you can have grass as short as 30mm and as long as 50mm, but they don't have as many cutting-height settings as other robots.
Robomow has a comprehensive range for you to choose from. The line-up covers relatively low-cost models suitable for modest lawns, plus expensive machines that can mow almost an entire football pitch.
Prices range from £599 for the entry-level RC all the way to £2,999 for the top-of-the-range RS model. The RC range costs between £1,199 and £1,899.
Flymo's robots are cheaper than most at around £500-£600.
Husqvarna's premium X-Line range includes GPS-assisted navigation and theft tracking, headlights, and the 'Automower Connect' app, which enables tracking and control from a smartphone or as an integrated part of a smart home setup.
John Deere only offers one robot mower, the Tango E5 Series II. This heavy-duty robot mower looks robust and bulky. It costs more than £1,500 and, for the money, you'll get a mower that can cut grass come rain or shine and scale inclines of up to 36%.
As you might expect, given the price, the E5 Series II (below) can mow a large plot. 2,200sq m is the maximum size and John Deere says it can run for 90 minutes on a single charge.
Stihl's range of iMow robot lawn mowers includes two series, the RMI 422 series and the RMI 632 series. Each has several models available and the differences between them are mostly down to their cutting range and prices.
Depending on which model you choose, your robot could cut lawns up to 5,000sq m and cost anything from £999 up to more than £2,000. Bear in mind though that not all models are compatible with the iMow app, and they don't all come with installation kits, either. Make sure to check both of these things before buying.
There are six robot lawn mowers in Honda's Miimo range at the time of writing.
The cheapest of the bunch is the £790 Miimo 40, which can cover an area of up to 400 sq m. It has a claimed 45 minute mowing time and features lift sensors that prevent the machine from getting stuck in a hole or on uneven ground.
If you've got a bigger budget, you can consider some other models in the range: Miimo 40 Live (£890, below), Miimo 70 Live (£990), Miimo 310 (£1,090), Miimo 520 (£1,590) and Miimo 3000 (£2,350).
Worx's Landroid robot mowers are among the cheaper options around. The robots with the largest cutting ranges still cost more than £1,000, but the cheapest model, the Landroid S300 WR130E, can be picked up for a little over £500.
Worx's robots have 'Cut to Edge' design, that has slots on the side that allow the mower to catch grass along the edges of your lawn and reach the blades close to walls. The 20V lithium-ion batteries are cheaply replaceable at £40, too, and the batteries can be used with other cordless gardening tools from Worx.
Mac Allister is known for its cheap gardening tools, and when it comes to robot mowers its no exception.
The low price does mean it compromises on some features – there's no smartphone app and the programming is more basic. On the plus side, you'll still have the convenience of having your lawn cut for you.
Popular online retailers that stock robot lawn mowers include: