International Blog What does a robotic lawnmower do with foliage?

What does a robotic lawnmower do with foliage?

28.05.2021
When trees shed their leaves in autumn, another labor-intensive phase begins at the end of the garden year. After all, fallen leaves should not be left on the lawn too long in order to prevent the risk of mold and rot. Robotic lawnmowers are designed to mow a lawn that is free of barriers and obstacles. So, what about foliage?

Particularly in the autumn, fallen fruit or even leaves left lying around make the robot's job more difficult. What exactly happens when the robotic lawnmower encounters autumn leaves?

Problems with autumn leaves

First of all, every garden owner should strive to remove large amounts of leaves from their lawns promptly. Especially in cold, wet weather, the necessary aeration of a lawn is quickly reduced, increasing the risk of mold and rot. But it is also easier for the robotic lawnmower if you regularly rake up fallen leaves?

When damp, a layer of leaves can threaten to become slippery, causing the robotic lawnmower to lose its optimal grip on the ground. If damp leaves stick to the wheels, this effect is further intensified. On slopes, wheels can quickly start to spin and the robot can get stuck. This rotational movement in turn promotes wear and tear of the turf. 

Another problem can arise when a thick layer of leaves prevents accurate lawn cutting. If the blades cannot properly grasp the lawn due to a large amount of leaves, the cut pattern may suffer. This is particularly the case when larges amount of foliage collect in depressions and uneven ground and the robot can no longer grasp the underlying lawn.

Does the foliage damage the robotic lawnmower?

Basically, the blades of the robotic lawnmower simply shred autumn leaves. Nevertheless, this is also accompanied by faster wear on the blades- much more so with disc blades than with robust star blades.
In addition, further damage to the robotic lawnmower itself is rare and actually only occurs when very compact devices encounter extremely large amounts of leaves, resulting in blockages of the blades.

Mulching leaves with the robotic lawnmower?

As mentioned above, star blades are robust enough to shred leaves just as easily as lawns. However, not only can the blades wear out more quickly, but the shredded leaves also promote the formation of moss on the lawn. If the leaves are from walnut or oak trees, the tannic acid also has a negative effect on soil quality.

Unlike fine lawn mulch, large quantities of leaves do not decompose within a short period of time, making it important to remove them manually. If they do become shredded by the robotic lawnmower, raking them up becomes even more difficult. Therefore, it makes more sense to collect the leaves before the robotic lawnmower starts its work.

Which robotic lawnmower is suitable for leaves?

Hardly any garden owner has the time and energy to remove leaves every day, so there will always be random leaves on the lawn when the robotic lawnmower starts. In this case, if you have several trees in the garden, it is best to choose a model that copes particularly well with leaves. Helpful features are:

  • Wheels suitable for off-road use with a rugged profile. These have a good grip even on wet leaves. This reduces the risk of the robotic lawnmower getting stuck on slopes. Traction can also be optimized with a wheel brush, which removes the damp leaves from the wheels directly during operation.
  • A pendulum-mounted mowing deck that compensates for bumpy ground and ensures an even cut with some leaves on the ground.
  • A robotic mower equipped with robust star blades. If there is too much foliage, this too leads to faster wear than usual, but initially copes better with the foliage than with disc blades.
  • A mulch remover ensures that leaves do not collect on the underside of the device and impair mowing performance.

Robotic mowers and fall foliage - lawn care tips

  • Make sure that the lawn is largely free of leaves. Individual leaves do not harm the robotic lawnmower, nor are they detrimental to the cutting result. The situation is different, however, if there is a thick layer of leaves on the lawn.
  • Avoid operating the robotic lawnmower if there is a lot of wet leaves in the garden. Despite all-terrain models, there is an increased risk of the wheels damaging the lawn.
  • Always check whether there are objects under the layer of leaves that can damage the robotic lawnmower. Stones in particular can cause sensitive damage to the blades. 
    Conversely, hedgehogs or other animals could be hiding under the leaves.

Smaller amounts of leaves are not a problem for either the lawn or the robotic lawnmower. However, it is advisable to choose a robotic lawnmower with star blades that carefully shreds leaves. If a very thick layer of leaves forms, we recommend using a rake or leaf blower to properly remove them. 

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