Our Test Garden For Robot Lawn Mowers

The 3 Lawns in our test garden

Our test garden consists of a number of interconnected areas as you can see from the aerial image. 

The most complicated area is where we decided to run our original Husqvarna 450x  – an area of approx. 4000 sq. m.  Have a look at our story of how we replaced it with an Ambrogio 4.0 Elite.

There 3 zones each have different challenges:

 
You can click on each area to have a look.
Our test garden allows us to try changes to improve the the coverage & navigation of the mowers, test out software and try out new mowers.

Front walled garden

Running an Ambrogio L60 robot mower

Front Walled garden ready for a robot mower

The front walled garden measures approximately 150 m² and has a path through the middle of it

As it is bordered by a crazy paved area in front of the house and the is surrounded by flower beds which are about 8cms lower than the lawn.  This makes it perfectly suited to an Ambrogio L60 robot mower.

The L60 requires no perimeter wire to be laid and as it is light, can be easily moved between the areas either side of the path.

During the growing season, we tended to put the mower out on the grass about 2 to 3 times a week. One charge would be enough to mow both sides of the path but we normally put it out and forgot about it so had to charge it before it was available to do the other side of the path.

L60 mowing on walled garden
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L60 mowing in walled garden video
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Running an Ambrogio Twenty Elite robot mower

Twenty Elite running on front walled garden

Although the Twenty Elite can cope with up to 1000 m², we were looking for an area to try this new machine out on.

The front walled garden seemed like the best place that we could push it to its limits. It also allowed us to put together some videos on the installation process as many people who buy these machines do the installation themselves.

The Twenty Elite is small (42 cms long) and hence is very manoeuvrable which is required for an area which is small with some narrow areas.

Both versions of the Twenty allow you to lay the perimeter wire 20 cms from the edge of the lawn and hence minimise the amount of strimming at the edge.

We wanted to see how the machine would cope with crossing the path between the two areas so it would be fully automated.  

What did we find out about the Ambrogio Twenty Elite?

Ambrogio Twenty Elite video
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 It is very manoeuvrable.  We wanted to put the base in an acute corner -totally against the installation guidelines but we want to push the mower.  Going to/ from the base worked fine, but during normal mowing, if it mowed in the corner, it could reverse off the edge of the lawn.  We solved this by putting a raised border around the acute corner.  If you don’t want to do this, no problem, just follow the recommended installation instructions.

You can lay the wire at 20cms from the edge but this can cause problems when the robot follows the wire and the wire goes around a corner.  Unless the wire is perfectly straight, we would recommend adding a couple of cms…or peg the wire out first quickly and test it before securing it properly (always a good idea anyway).

We tried a couple of methods of getting the wire underneath a path.  Although we did have some luck ‘blasting’ a hole underneath with a hose and rigid pipe (many youtube videos on it), by far the easiest way was to use an angle grinder to cut a groove in the path around the stones, lay the wire and use clear silicon sealant to keep the wire in place. 

Conclusions

The Twenty Elite is a great machine.  

It’s perfect for a small garden, although the Twenty Deluxe would cope just as well in our garden as the GPS/ internet connectivity is a bit of overkill unless you want your machine to be trackable.

The L60 worked well, but we preferred the Twenty being fully automated so we didn’t need to remember to put the mower out or take it in.

Our old L60 is now working on a small garden at a North Norfolk holiday rental.

Ambrogio Twenty Elite video
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Ambrogio Twenty Elite video
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Front garden

Running an Ambrogio L35 robot mower

The front garden measures approximately 800 m² and has the driveway running through it.

Issues with driveways

People often ask about their mower crossing a driveway as part of its normal schedule.  We usually advise against it as if you have car versus mower, the car will always win!

Even if the driveway is only used by the owners, it is too easy to forget that the mower might be crossing it and when reversing, they are not easy to see.

Front Garden Looking Northish
Front Garden Looking South with L35 robot mower
Front Garden closed area with L35 robot mower

Closed areas for hard to get to places

An L35 Elite mows the larger area and we originally had the strip on the other side of the driveway mowed by the back garden mower.  The issue was that we had to open the gate to let the mower through. 

We could have worked around this by cutting a flap in the gate but thought it was easier to extend the wire from the front garden and have it as a ‘closed area’. 

A closed area is an area which the robot does not navigate to itself, you just pick up the mower and move it yourself then just set it to mow for a couple of hours.  We put the L35 in the closed area about twice a week.

The L35 Elite so far

We have been running the L35 for 2 seasons and on the whole, it has worked well.  The 2 things that cause problems are:

Rabbit holes

Rabbits dig holes in the night and if the hole is just the right size and the mower hits it at just the wrong angle, the mower front wheel can fall into the hole and cause the mower to get stuck.  If you regularly have this type of problem then we would recommend a four wheeled mower such as the Twenty Elite or L250i Elite.

Ant hills

Over the last 2 years we have had a number of ant hills appear – they can be up to 10 cms. high.  The mower has no problem going over the hills but as it has a low ground clearance at the back, it can get stuck.  If you have this type of problem then maybe look at a bigger mower or if it’s really bad look at mowers for uneven ground.

L35 mowing in front garden 1
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L35 mowing in front garden 2
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Back garden

Robot Mower Back Garden Layout

The back garden measures approximately 4000 m² and has 6 areas.  It has just about everything that you could encounter with a robot mower and so is a great test area.  It includes:

  • A pond – you need to leave a larger space between the perimeter wire and any drops/ water (90cms vs 35cms).
  • Areas separated by narrow passageways – you need to have a minimum of 100cms for the mower to navigate, otherwise it will be a closed area.
  • Lots of trees – need to consider protruding roots
  • Slopes – need to consider traction in the wet
  • Long thin areas – need to consider the impact of  increased mowing time on areas less than 3m wide.

We originally had a Husqvarna 450X mowing this area but changed to an Ambrogio 4.0 Elite.

Bridge between areas 4 and 5
Bridge between areas 4 and 5
Larger trees in area 5
Larger trees in area 5
Area 6 with small trees
Area 6 with small trees
Narrow strip area 2

Ambrogio 4.0 Elite in the back garden

We have been running an Ambrogio 4.0 Elite in our back garden for 2 seasons.  You can find out about the installation and running in our blog article.

Over the last 2 seasons, we have kept on tweaking the layout to try and push the mower to its limit and learn from the experiences.  

Robot Eye View
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Ambrogio 4.0 robot lawn mower among the trees
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