Lawns Going Techno

By Chelle Cordero

February 16, 2019 6 min read

Hiring a robot to do your lawn chores may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie plot, but it's a reality, and it can go a long way in saving you precious time -- and backaches. According to Digital Trends, the average American spends almost 70 hours a year on lawn care. Why bother with mundane chores when you could pick up a new hobby or actually relax in your freshly maintained garden instead? Robotic lawn mowers, weeding robots, electric lawn sweepers and hydroponic gardens are welcome advancements that will improve efficiency, increase your crop yield, have a positive environmental impact and improve your overall lawn care experience.

Similar to robotic carpet sweepers, a robotic mower will run by itself, allowing you to relax in the hammock or tend to other business as it trims away. These mowers run on (rechargeable) battery power, so they are much more environmentally friendly than gas-powered mowers and require less maintenance. While more frequent mowing is required, since their blades cut short grass better, this promotes greener lawns and extends the mower battery life.

Robotic mowers cover less ground than regular push mowers or ride-on mowers, so it is a slower process and usually works best on a smaller yard. You'll need to set up the mowing area, often by laying a perimeter wire, which can be tedious but will probably only need to be done once per mowing season. In the Digital Trends "Best Robotic Lawn Mowers" article, writer Parker Hall calls out the Honda Miimo 3000 as the favorite on the market, saying, "While many robotic lawnmowers are limited to smaller yards, this model can mow up to an acre with ease. ... One of the real standout features with the Miimo series is the paired app. This allows you to adjust cutting height, start or stop the unit, and also manage a calendar, all from your smartphone." If simply lifting a finger to get your lawn care process started sounds ideal, then a robotic mower may be the way to go. Just consider what obstacles it would have to deal with. Is your yard peppered with rocks, brush or water that could prevent it from making clean passes? Is there too steep a slope to where it would lose its footing going down or be unable to climb back up? The cost can run a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, which is often far less than its gas-powered counterparts, so just evaluate the whole picture to make sure it's effective before moving forward.

Power lawn sweepers are a unique technological advancement, and a great alternative to a leaf blower or rake. When pushed over a newly cut lawn, they sweep all of the debris (leaves, twigs and cut grass) into a hopper for you to conveniently add it to a compost pile and create a healthy lawn mulch. The ES100 Power Brush Electric Lawn Sweeper is the only sweeper on the market powered by a 12-volt fused electric motor. "This allows for continuous high speed brush pick-up even around tight corners, flower beds, and other landscaping," says the Sears website. With this, or even a manual sweeper, your lawn will easily be enriched by the beneficial nutrients and retain moisture on hot, sunny days.

Farmers will especially benefit from the emerging weeding robots. They are taught to recognize crops (like lettuce and raw vegetables) and desired flowers and distinguish them from weeds. Using a spray technology, they can precisely eliminate many harmful weeds with herbicides. Some weeders are capable of tilling the soil around desired plants to keep the rows weed-free. And a few of the newer designs are self-powered through solar energy. There's no need for an herbicide shower or tedious hours of weeding with this smart and easy-to-use device.

While robotics certainly seem to be the wave of the future, improved gardening systems is also a growing (excuse the pun) field. Hydroponic gardening is an age-old method that is still a serious interest for many gardeners given its natural characteristics. Meaning "working water," plants are grown in a soilless solution and grow at a rate of 30 to 50 percent faster than traditionally grown field plants. This increases crop size and yield while using less natural resources, such as water. There is no worry about soil erosion and root damage, and pesticides are not necessary in hydroponic systems, removing concerns about chemicals. Most importantly, areas that are suffering from drought, extreme weather conditions and other natural or manmade hazards can benefit by the increased production and controlled environment that a hydroponic system offers. There are hydroponic growing systems for just about any plant-growing goals, whether on a commercial scale or on the counter in your studio apartment.

Some shake their heads at technological innovation and automation, especially with regard to putting it in nature. But not everyone has a green thumb, and when it comes to benefits like ease, health, environmental impact and efficiency, sometimes change is for the better. So before you send these gadgets out to pasture, shop around to see how they could make a positive impact on your lawn care experience.

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