Landscape Design Tips for Maximizing the Benefits of Robot Mowers - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscape Design Tips for Maximizing the Benefits of Robot Mowers

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In recent years, robotic mowers have gained popularity for their ability to efficiently maintain lawns with minimal human intervention. These autonomous machines offer a range of benefits, including time and labor savings, a consistently well-maintained lawn, and reduced noise and emissions.

However, to fully maximize the benefits of robot mowers, proper landscape design is essential. In this article, we will explore six key design tips that will help you create a landscape that is robot mower-friendly and ensures optimal performance.

1. Plan for Power and Base Station Placement

One of the first considerations when designing a garden for a robot mower is the placement of the base station and access to a power source. Most robot mowers require a base station for recharging. It is important to choose a location for the base station that is easily accessible and close to a power source. An external socket with a watertight lid is recommended to protect the plug from the elements. Additionally, ensure that there is a straight path from the base station to the largest area of the lawn, as the mower will need a clear path to return to the base station for recharging.

2. Create Passageways

If your client’s lawn includes separate areas or sections divided by walls, flower beds, or other structures, it is important to plan passageways that allow the robot mower to navigate between these areas. Most robot mowers require a passageway of at least 1 meter in width to move from one area to another. Avoid relying on gates as a passageway solution, as they may require manual opening and closing, which can disrupt the mower’s operation.

3. Consider Path Surfaces and Heights

Paths within your customer’s lawn can present challenges for a robot mower. Paths at different heights than the surrounding lawn may be impassable for the mower. Consider the type of surface and height of the path when planning the landscape. If the path surface is loose, consider using a more stable material or ensuring that it is compacted properly. If the path is at a different height, consider creating ramps or slopes that allow the mower to easily traverse the path.

4. Account for Slopes and Gradients

While many robot mowers claim to handle slopes up to a certain percentage, it is important to consider the specific conditions and limitations of your client’s yard. Slopes can present challenges for robot mowers, especially when the conditions are slippery. Before designing the landscape, assess the steepness of any slopes and determine if they are within the capabilities of the robot mower your client plans to use. If you are working with particularly steep slopes, consider creating separate areas for the upper and lower sections of the yard and finding alternative routes for the mower to navigate.

5. Accommodate Trees and Tree Roots

Trees can pose unique challenges for robot mowers. Above-ground tree roots can cause the mower to get stuck or damage the roots if not properly addressed. Additionally, young trees may be flexible and susceptible to damage if the mower pushes against them. When planning your customer’s yard, ensure that trees are positioned with enough space for the mower to navigate behind them, typically at least 70 centimeters of clearance. Consider using raised borders around trees to exclude them from the mower’s path. This will prevent potential damage to the trees and ensure that the mower can navigate the rest of the lawn efficiently.

6. Minimize the Need for Trimming

One of the key advantages of robot mowers is their ability to maintain large portions of the lawn without the need for manual trimming. However, there will always be edges that require trimming. By considering the specifications of your client’s chosen robotic mower, you can minimize the amount of trimming required. Pay close attention to the edge of the lawn and take steps to reduce or eliminate trimming. 

For example, by using a low-height edging material, the mower may be able to cut all the way to the edge. If the edging is lower than the lawn, the mower blades will be able to cut the grass but avoid hitting the edging. Having a robot mower with a higher cutting height, such as the Mammotion Luba 2, will help you to achieve this. By planning in advance and choosing the appropriate lawn edging, you can minimize the need for manual trimming.

In conclusion, designing a landscape that is robot mower-friendly requires careful planning and consideration of various factors. By following these six tips, you can create a landscape that maximizes the benefits of robot mowers, including time savings, reduced labor costs, and a consistently well-maintained lawn.

Jason Keely

Jason Keeley is the owner of MowingMagic, a landscape company in Virginia specializing in robotic lawn mowers.