The perfect habitat for a robot lawn mower
Robots, they are all the rage in our house at the moment. We were a little dubious about how well they would work but the robot vacuum cleaner that we have has been a revelation. It may not be as powerful as an all singing all dancing upright vacuum cleaner, but that fact that it goes out every day without fail and vacuums the whole house means that it ends up doing a good job. It certainly saves us having to get the vacuum cleaner out and the house is cleaner and tidier too.
A Robot Lawn Mower
We therefore decided that it was time to add a robot lawn mower to the family. We did look at them last year. Prices ranged from around £700 for the basic models right up to around £3000 for the more complex. They go beyond that for professional use but consumer ones for residential properties don’t need to be quite so fancy.
Even the lower end models were a lot to spend without knowing how well it would work. However, the success of the vacuum cleaner made our minds up so we had another look a couple of weeks ago. We were surprised to see that the model I had earmarked previously was ‘only’ £450 on Amazon. We discussed it, decided we’d give it a go and then went to buy it. Would you believe it, the price was now back up to £750, we’d missed our opportunity! We should have bought it straight away and not waited 24 hours before splashing the cash.
Undeterred we added it to a Price-Runner price watcher and checked in from time to time. A few days later I received a notification to say that the price had dropped. It was now down to £550. Time to pounce before it went back up again. It might not have been quite such the bargain it had been but with Spring on the price was likely to go back up again. As it happens it’s actually dropped to £533 the following day and has since risen to around £750-80. The price seems to fluctuate daily.
Robot Mower House
It has arrived and looks good but with temperatures below freezing it was a little too early in the year to try it out straight away. That did at least give us time to prepare a suitable habitat for ‘him’ to live in. I think we are going to call him Hector by the way!
First our robot mower needed a little house to shelter from the worst of the weather and to rest in when he’s not out working. Having ripped up the decking last year I had some old deck boards sitting around. These were cut up to create a suitable robot shelter!
This shelter will house his charging station and will therefore not only shelter the robot itself but will help keep the electrical components out of the wind and rain too. It also hides him away a little. However, he does have various security features in the form of tilt and lift alarms. He is completely disabled and won’t work if he is picked up and needs a pin code to reactivate him if he is moved.
Robot Mower Habitat Creation
With a nice little house for Hector I also had lots to do preparing the habitat in which he will roam. There was a low voltage boundary wire to lay all around the lawn area. Don’t worry, it’s not an electric fence to keep him contained. The robot, or should that be mowbot, detects the low voltage current running through the wire and won’t cross it.
You do have to leave a bit of a gap between the wire and the edge of flowers borders. This prevents the robot falling into the borders and get stuck. This gap means that it could leave a narrow strip that doesn’t get mowed properly. With this is mind I decided to lay some lawn-level edging around borders and flower beds. This allowed me to lay the boundary wire the correct distance from the edge whilst allowing the mower to mow right to the edge of the grass. Once again, the leftover decking boards have been put to good use around the central border in the garden.
Elsewhere in the garden I decided to use more substantial slabs to form a lawn-level edging. The decking boards will probably rot pretty quickly so might only be a temporary solution. The concrete edging slabs were a lot more expensive than the free leftover deck boards but they should last forever. We can’t install them everywhere but they look nice so we may end up extending them in years to come.
The lawn is quite a complicated shape and the wire needs to go all the way around the perimeter. You can just peg it down but it’s best if it is buried a little under the grass. This not only prevents the mower cutting it or getting snagged on it but hides it away better too. It’s surprising just how much work is involved in cutting a little channel to bury the wire. Anna helped out though by measuring the distance from the edge. She then fed the wire to me whilst I buried it.
Once the edging was done I thought laying the boundary wire would be quick, but it still took a while.
There was also a guide wire that needs to run the entire length of the garden. This guide wire helps guide the robot back to his charging station in the most efficient manner once his battery is running low. It can also be used to program the mower to spend certain amounts of time in certain sections of the garden. The mower navigates to these sections along the guide wire once you’ve programmed how far along the wire the sections are.
Typically, just as we thought we were almost done we ran out of wire so had to stop for the day. More wire was ordered. Once that arrived it was a fairly small job to finish off the guide wire and finish the installation.
Nothing is ever easy
However, just as we finished, we noticed another issue in the garden. The membrane over our soakaway had split. Water was bubbling up out of it and flowing into the garden flooding it. So much for creating a nice habitat for Hector our mowbot. I don’t think a flooded, muddy, smelly series of pools was quite what he needed. Fortunately, the pools of water drained away fairly quickly, so we could test him out. I’ll save that for another blog post just in case there are any final tweaks needed.
Hopefully, once he is all set up and roaming free that will be the end of lawn mowing for me. The fact that the edges have been hard-landscaped will mean the end of constantly re-edging to flower beds too. I may soon be able to relax in the garden and enjoy my ‘Simple life of Luxury!’.