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9 best robot lawnmowers that take the graft out of cutting the grass

·11-min read
These machines cost between £500 to over £1000 – we’ve sifted through to bring you the ones worthy of investment (iStock/The Independent)
These machines cost between £500 to over £1000 – we’ve sifted through to bring you the ones worthy of investment (iStock/The Independent)

Say goodbye to weekly lawn mowing and instead sit back, relax and enjoy your garden by enlisting the help of a robot lawnmower.

While the initial outlay starts at more than £400, depending on the size of your lawn, the benefits of an automatic lawnmower are many. For a start, there’s no raking up grass cuttings – all the mowers we tested cut the grass into small pieces that help to mulch your lawn and ultimately improve its health. The regular cutting acts rather like a regular haircut, keeping your grass looking consistently neat and healthy.

Do be aware that setting up a robot lawnmower can be time consuming. They all use a wire system – which must be laid around the perimeter of your cutting area before you can even get going, so you need to factor this setup into your buying decision. Some mower dealers offer this service for free or at a one-off cost. If you have a large, complex lawn layout, you’ll save your knees and back by getting someone to do it for you!

Remember also that most robotic mowers leave an uncut edge near objects, so you will still need to strim around the edges of your lawn – but it’s still a far less taxing task than cutting a full lawn.

We spent five weeks trying out a variety of mowers, and considered everything from ease of setup and control, any smart additional features and of course, value for money. These are the nine robot lawnmowers we think are worth investing in for 2021.

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You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

The best robot lawnmowers for 2021 are:

Worx landroid l1000

Best: Overall

Looking like a black and orange hovercraft, this was one of the biggest models we tested – suitable for lawns up to 1,000 sq m. It handled the lawn beautifully, speedily taking itself off in a random pattern to get the grass cut. We did have some trouble getting it connected to the app – and ended up bringing the mower back in the house to get a connection, but the intuitive app worked well after that. We loved the inclusion of an adorable “save the hedgehog” mode, which stops the mower working in the evening when small creatures might be visiting your garden. Serious gardeners can even set it up to work on different soil types and grass varieties.

There’s some nice extras that can be added at extra cost – an “off limits” module will help the landroid find its way round temporary fixtures such as a summer paddling pool, without having to connect wire to your existing layout, and the ACS (anti collision system) makes it swerve around obstacles – handy for things like football goals and plant pots. Plus there is an option to operate via voice control if you don’t have a smartphone. Thanks to its watertight design it can also be hosed off after use. One of its most standout features though is its ability to “cut to edge” as long as you set up the wires correctly, so you don’t need to strim the untidy lawn edges.

Buy now £1079.00,

Stihl rmi 422 pc

Best: For medium lawns

The characteristic Stihl orange livery certainly stands out, and this model can make light work of gardens covering up to a third of an acre. Quite compact for a model that covers such a large area, the Stihl has a quality feel that is echoed in its operation – quiet and efficient, it gets the job done with no problems. Extra features include a rain sensor that ensures mowing is either interrupted or not started when it is raining. The user can set the sensitivity, a useful feature if your ground is prone to flooding. The iMow app offers easy operation; you can check the mower’s status and GPS location from anywhere, which is a bonus if you are worried about theft. Another very smart feature is the automatic line break detection – if the wire is set up correctly the mower will be unlikely to cut it, but it’s possible that a dog, deer or other animal might damage it. In a large garden where the wire is buried under the ground, this feature will help you detect where the break is without having to dig up the whole wire.

Buy now £909.00, Robot-lawnmowers

McCulloch rob s400

Best: For simple controls

The workman-like McCulloch rob s400 is a no-nonsense robotic lawnmower for lawns up to 400m2. It was one of the easiest out of the box and has a simple screen and button control, with a rotary dial to control lawn cutting height. Unlike some of the mowers, the McCulloch uses snap-on connectors to attach the wires to the charging base, so no need to fiddle with stripping wires – a bonus if bare wires fill you with dread! An additional guide wire is installed to help it find its way back to the docking station. Unlike the Stihl there’s no rain sensor, but there are sensors for lift, tilt and collision. Operating speed is quiet and settings can be altered to allow it to cut closer to the edge. You can only operate it via Bluetooth, so there’s no true remote option, if that is important to you, but for smaller gardens, it’s not really going to be an issue.

Buy now £699.95,

Lawnmaster l10

Best: Budget buy

Probably the quickest out of the box to get mowing, the Lawnmaster l10 (for lawns up to 400m2) is at first glance a reasonably basic machine. There’s no screen, and a dial on top is used to set the cutting height. While other machines take time mapping the mowing area, the Lawnmaster went straight at it out of the docking station and started mowing – no guide wire is required. You can set the mower to do its work every day or every other day. There is no app operation, so it is straightforward to use, although you may prefer the bells and whistles that app operation can provide in some of the other models.

For one of the cheapest machines, we were impressed by some of the extras included – for example wire strippers were included in the bag of wires and pegs, so you only need a mallet to hammer the pegs in. We also thought the low price might translate to noisy operation, but it was impressively quiet as it mowed. Although we didn’t get one to test, you can buy a peg driver (£29.99, Cleva-uk) to make the slightly laborious job of laying the boundary wire simpler – definitely worthwhile if you have a large garden and lots of obstacles to lay the wire around.

Buy now £449.99,

Flymo easilife go 250

Best: For smaller lawns

This very compact little mower is very neat and surprisingly quiet in operation. There’s no screen on this, so you have to work out how to use the keys - but it is simple enough to operate through the smartphone app. Just be aware that it operates through Bluetooth so you need to be nearby for operation – no sitting on your couch and giving out instructions while you stay inside!

Its lawnsense feature means the mower decides the best time and conditions for mowing, so you can sit back and let it get on with the job in hand. Two other neat additions for such a compact mower (suitable for lawns up to 250m2) are the frost sensor and spot cut. As we all know, lawns and frost do not do well together so if the temperature dips below 5 degrees C, the mower will override any set schedule. Spot cut sends the mower in a spiral pattern to work on any overgrown areas.

Buy now £520.00,

Husqvarna 405x

Best: For design

Proving that Swedish design is not limited to furniture, the Husqvarna 405x, for lawns up to 600m2, shows off its good looks with its all-over charcoal livery and front-facing lights. They might seem like a bit of a gimmick, but because it is so quiet when operating, it could be useful if you don’t want to fall over the machine in the dark!

Husqvarna has chosen not to put a rain sensor on this model, although it does have the all-important frost sensor. We loved its chunky wheels – which allow it to manage the most unruly of gardens – and it was speedy when it came to mapping out the garden. With rubber bumpers, alarm to prevent theft, and lift, tilt and collision sensors, if you have the budget for this machine, it’s a great choice – its app is remarkably intuitive too.

Buy now £1530.00,

Bosch indego s+500

Best: For a simple setup

If you dread getting a new phone or laptop because you can’t be bothered with all the setting up and restarting, the Bosch indego s+500 (for lawns up to 500m2) will be right up your street. There’s no need to set up a mowing schedule, just let this solid little green and black hero do the job for you – it will map your garden and then work out the schedule that will be best for you and your space. Clever eh? This is another mower that requires you to strip wires to get the docking station connected. The cutting height is set using a push bar on the top of the machine – personally we prefer an easier-to-read dial, but it’s not a deal breaker by any means. Its spot mowing feature is useful if you want to concentrate on a specific area of your lawn.

Buy now £699.99,

Honda miimo live

Best: For traditionalists

The miimo live takes a step away from the general black/orange livery of the garden tools and instead steps out in a white and black affair that makes it stand out from the rest, but might start to look rather grubby after a summer outside in all weathers. Designed for lawns up to 400m2, it feels like a solid little unit, and has a neat docking station, which is useful if you haven’t got a lot of room. However, with its two small front wheels, we did find it had some difficulty finding its way onto the docking station.

With some fiddling, we managed to get the docking station a tad more level, which helped, but none of our other machines had had the same problem. On the upside, it was speedy in operation and cuts up and down the lawn like a traditional mower, which traditionalists among you might like, although it’s worth noting it was far noisier than any other model we tested. In our rural garden, it was very noticeable, although in a more urban area you may not notice it as much. Apart from that, it did a speedy, and solid job of cutting.

Buy now £789.00,

Gardena sileno minimo 250

Best: For contemporary gardens

This neat little machine is quite appealing. Its light blue and grey styling will be popular with colour-conscious modern gardeners and its quiet operation, thanks to the brushless motor, is a joy. It has quite a narrow cutting width, which lends itself to the smaller garden, although it is designed for lawns up to 500m2. It can also connect to Gardena’s smart system which is configured via a gateway, and plugs into your own router. The system can also control watering systems and water control at the tap, but we found it a hassle to connect to the app this way.

Buy now £499.00,

The verdict: Robot lawnmowers

With its standout design, intuitive app and close-to-the-edge cutting, the Worx landroid l1000 had to be our top pick. It is not the cheapest, but its smaller, cheaper siblings have the same benefits and would be fine for a smaller lawn.

For smaller gardens and hassle-free operation, we would pick the Flymo easilife go 500, and our pick for best value would be the Lawnmaster l10.

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