I’ve always wanted to have a gardener. Mowing the lawn can seem like such a chore.
My lawn isn’t very big, but by the time I got the mower out of the shed, unwound the cable, walked said cable to the outlet, then got started on my first strip, I just want to sit with a beer and enjoy the sun.
But gardeners are expensive. And I said to myself that, for the same price of one year of recruiting a professional to come and mow for me, I could buy a robot lawn mower. And I love gadgets.
But surely a robotic lawnmower cannot compete with the skills of man and machine?
I had had a lot of success recently testing robot vacuums, so I wanted to give this idea a try. The nice folks at Worx offered to send me a High-end Landroid mower try, and I was itching to put it to work.
But getting a robot lawn mower up and running isn’t as simple as taking it out of the box and sending it on its way. First there is a small project to tackle.
The vast majority of robot mowers are guided by a boundary wire, and this should be laid around the perimeter of your lawn, so the mower knows how far to cut and where the edges are.
It’s quite a long job, but it’s relatively simple. Using the pegs provided, you simply unroll the cable reel, anchor it a set distance from the edge of the lawn, carefully navigate it around any obstacles and then return it to the unit. base, which must be carefully placed.
Although connecting the wire is easy and the instructions are very good, connecting the wire to the base station is tedious. A good pair of pliers is a must, but wire strippers would be better. It’s the hardest part of the job, and once it’s done, it’s done.
So, with the base secured to the lawn and the boundary wire laid, it’s time to take the mower out of the box.
Worx sent me their best-selling model, which has been updated for 2022, the M500 Plus. And it’s not quite small. In all honesty it’s a little oversized for my lawn, the smaller S300 would have been more suitable, but the M500 is a tech lover’s dream, with its own integrated control panel and the useful addition of a cut-to-edge system. So it’s big, but it’s by far the best tool for the job.
Connecting the mower to my WiFi, via the Worx app, was extremely easy, and I had the option of setting a schedule or measuring my lawn using a nifty AI system in the app, and to let the robot set its own schedule. That’s what I did, and it was very simple.
The routine he’s adopted has him out six days a week, about an hour a day, before returning to base to recharge. It will also detect when it is raining and delay its operation for a set time so the grass can dry out. All very smart.
On the first run, the robot came to life and proceeded to mow randomly up and down in long strips, pointing in no particular direction, but simply turning when it encountered the limit. It seems very random, but after a few passes it will have reached every blade of grass with ease, and then it will just continue its random route, constantly removing grass tops and mulching into the ground.
To say I’m impressed would be an understatement. Within a week, the lawn was immaculate. Almost every inch of it was completed at the 30mm cut height we set and it looked fabulous.
However, we had the occasional hiccup. The first took place on the second day. It was a Saturday and the robot basically refused to do any work. A message on the screen clearly indicated that it was his day off, and that was it. I was dictated by certain circuits and wires. Mind you, I guess we all need a day off once in a while.
The next day he returned to duty as promised, and all we had to do was sit back, wait for his scheduled start time, and watch him zip around the lawn. However, that particular day did not go well. The robot ran over its boundary wire and severed the wire.
There are repair kits and instructions included in the box, and we quickly got the wire repaired, but quickly decided we’d probably be better off looking through the entire length of the wire, looking for any problem spots. .
Using a lot more pegs than Worx’s instructions suggested, we managed to fix all the remaining spots and restart the robot.
Since this rather unpleasant episode, everything is fine. You really leave it to itself. Each day it goes out, climbs and descends a bit, returns to its base, charges, and then prepares for the next day’s tasks.
It really cuts right to the edge, and even troublesome edging that encroaches on the lawn is handled with ease.
I’ve been using it for almost a month now and I’m still very impressed. I can’t forget how quiet it is. I’m glad my dogs got used to it and stopped barking, and I love that it has a rain sensor.
However, we have some problems in our garden. There are two corners that it can’t quite get to, so I have to manually cut them every once in a while. Only small stains, so a pair of scissors does the trick, but that’s a shame.
And although the charging base now blends well into the grass, we have to cut it down periodically, because the robot can’t reach everything.
The boundary wire, however, is now completely hidden. Grass has grown on it and we can barely see it. So no more worries about cut wires.
The only other issue we noticed is that the mower can’t do anything about the leaves on the lawn. Our conventional mower, which hasn’t been touched for weeks, is able to suck them into its grass catcher, but the robotic mower trims them a bit and leaves them in place.
So once a month or so I’ll probably do a quick sweep with the conventional trimmer, just to keep it looking pristine.
And it really looks flawless. It’s so wonderful to know that I don’t have to take the mower out every week. That I can now sit with a beer and watch my garden take care of itself.
The smaller version of the S300 is currently offered at B&Q for just under £500, and the M500 Plus I tested can be had for a tint under £700. That might seem like a lot of money, and of course it is, but I calculated that paying a gardener for a year would amount to a similar amount.
And the Worx range will last much, much longer than a year. Not only is there a three-year warranty on its tools, but the brushless motors come with a 10-year warranty. The blades are replaceable and – I really like this bit – they are powered by a standard Worx Power Share battery, which is the same one Worx uses for all of its tools. You just put them in and take them out. You can even update the software regularly through the app.
So if you calculate the price over, say, three years, it’s really not that expensive.
Sure, it’s a lot more expensive than a conventional mower, which I’m sure would trot around again and again for a generation, but you can’t just sit back with a beer and watch it do its job. And it would make a lot of noise. And you have to take it out of the shed every time.
So maybe it’s not good news for gardeners, but a robot lawn mower is great news for me. If only I could have him trim my privet.