Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Interested in a Robot Mower for Your Lawn? Here’s What You Should Know

These self-driving machines are quiet and intuitive

spinner image a black robot lawn mower makes a path in a lawn
Pail Spell (Source: Getty Images (2))

Self-propelled, rechargeable robotic lawn mowers not only cut grass and distribute clippings evenly for healthier turf, these Roombas for your lawn also ditch the gas and are far quieter than power mowers.

If you’re ready to throw in the towel on mowing but hiring out isn’t in your budget, a robo-mower could be the answer. This diminutive lawn guy will work almost every day to keep your grass manicured.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

Robotic lawn mowers can make a physically taxing chore significantly easier,” says Jodhaira Rodriguez, expert product tester for the Consumer Reports Rapid Response Team. “With a robotic lawn mower, there’s no need to spend hours in the hot sun listening to the constant, loud buzz of a traditional mower.”

You don’t have to be home at all, thanks to apps that let you set the robot to mow on a schedule.

What to expect from robotic mowers

While models from several manufacturers are available, most robot mowers work similarly. You or a professional installer set up a boundary wire around or a few inches below the lawn to define the mowing area. This prevents the machine from straying into your garden, a neighbor’s grass or the sidewalk.

As with a robot vacuum, a robot mower’s onboard sensors detect obstacles, such as trees, and it navigates around them. Side guards on the machine protect you and pets from contact with the blades.

Wireless mowing. A new crop of mowers uses GPS satellites or onboard cameras to operate without a boundary wire. Most are battery powered, so the autonomous lawn mower drives back to its base to recharge and in most cases returns where it left off once it’s juiced up.

If you like being a supervisor, you can control your robotic lawn mower from inside using your smart speaker or a smartphone app through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Or you can tap the start and stop button on top of the unit.

Quieter cuts. You’ll notice the difference between the electric machine and your old gas-powered mower just by listening. Most models run between 60 and 70 decibels (dB), the equivalent of normal conversation.

Power mowers top 100 dB, and measuring decibels isn’t linear. Each 10 dB spread doubles the volume, so 100 dB is eight times louder than the noisiest robotic mower, and 16 times louder than the quietest.  People who spend all day using power mowers or listening to them up close risk hearing loss.

Grassy mulch. Your robotic lawn guy won’t be dragging a bag around. Instead, the mower cuts grass into small, fine clippings to decompose, allowing nutrients to return to the soil.

The mowers merely trim the top of the grass instead of giving it a big haircut. That’s why they work every day or every other day to stay on top of the job.

Technology & Wireless

Consumer Cellular

5% off monthly fees and 30% off accessories

See more Technology & Wireless offers >

Take lawn size, shape, hills into account

Before you buy a robo-mower, consider what kind of yard you have, Rodriguez says.

“All robot lawn mowers have a maximum yard size they can mow, so you want to make sure the model you buy can cover the entire area,” he says. One robo-mower does the work; they can’t be choreographed to cut together in the same space.

Assess your needs in the front, back and side yards to find a solution that can handle those areas. The mowers run about $700 up to $3,000, and higher-priced models can handle larger properties, more complicated lawns and steeper slopes.

For example, Robomow says mowers such as its RK4000 PRO model can handle uneven terrain and slopes up to 45 percent; Husqvarna’s Automower machines, 435X AWD (all-wheel drive) and 535 AWD, can tackle slopes up to 70 percent, nearly 35 degrees. Another brand, Mammotion, claims its AWD model, the LUBA 2 AWD 10000, can handle a slope up to more than 75 percent, or 38 degrees.

Residential models typically can cut 0.2 to 1.25 acres. Some can trim up to 2.5 acres, about 10,000 square meters. If you have more land, a professional lawn service or riding mower may be a better option.

Part of the decision will be your comfort with the app

The simplicity of the software may be just as consequential for users as a mower’s hardware, says Lance Ulanoff, editor at large of the digital publication TechRadar.

“Along with accuracy of its mapping technology, the companion app’s ease of use is a very important consideration,” he says. Some mowers are “smarter” than others, so you’ll be less reliant on the app.

spinner image membership-card-w-shadow-192x134


Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

If a robot can detect rain, you won’t need to manually reschedule a cut. They’re designed to work in wet weather but are much more efficient when grass is dry.

“They’d better be rugged to withstand the elements,” Ulanoff says.

You can set mowing times by the season, configure settings and view your lawn’s cutting history. Some apps show an overhead view of your garden for you to map out a specific route.

“Also, consider how much effort you’re willing to put into the setup process,” Rodriguez says. “Some [machines] are much more involved than others.”

Think about these extra features, maintenance

GPS adds expense. If you want to avoid perimeter wires, keep in mind that GPS models can cost more. And GPS needs need clear sight to the sky.

Features discourage sticky fingers. Depending on the size you choose, the mowers can weigh 20 to 50 pounds, easy for a porch pirate to nab in mid-cut. Anti-theft features, such as a loud alarm and app-based tracking capabilities, are often included.

Think about battery power. More expensive mowers have lithium-ion batteries that recharge thousands of times. If a mower runs for 90 minutes, it will need 60 to 120 minutes to recharge.

Check with the manufacturer to see how long it will stock the batteries and how much their replacements cost. Expect batteries to last up to five years, depending on environmental conditions, how often you use the mower and where it is stored when not in use.

Parts wear out. Like a gas-powered mower, replacement blades and other parts can wear down during everyday use, Rodriguez says. With regular maintenance, expect a robot mower to last about 10 years.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?