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Tips for a successful installation process of robotic mowers

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The futuristic design of Scythe’s M.52 turns some heads. Erasto Renteria says to be prepared for passers by to ask about the robotic mower while it works. (Photo: Scythe Robotics)
The futuristic design of Scythe’s M.52 turns some heads. Erasto Renteria says to be prepared for passers by to ask about the robotic mower while it works. (Photo: Scythe Robotics)
(Photo: Chris Aluka Berry)
(Photo: Chris Aluka Berry)

The idea of installing a robotic mower might seem like a large undertaking that would require a significant amount of technological know-how, but experts say that’s not the case.

Landscape Management spoke with Justin Mosley, maintenance sales manager for Plants Creative in Scottsdale, Ga., and Erasto Renteria, account manager for Clean Scapes in Austin, Texas, to gather tips for successful site prep and installation for robotic mowers.

Getting started

Mosley says that before site preparation begins, his first step is to complete a site audit.

“When I walk on site, the first thing I’m looking for is where I can get power,” he says. “Where can I put the charging station? From there, we’re going to look at the slope, the type of turf and irrigation heads.”

Plants Creative offers landscape design/build, irrigation and maintenance services to residential clientele in the Atlanta area. The company uses Husqvarna’s X-Line of Automowers, including the 315X, the 430X and the 450X — which has the highest slope capabilities.

Mosley is in his sixth season of using Husqvarna’s Automowers, which Plants Creative leaves on-site.

According to Justin Mosley of Plants Creative, wire must be laid a certain distance from obstacles. For instance, boundary wire must be put four inches away from a flat driveway. (Photo: Chris Aluka Berry)
According to Justin Mosley of Plants Creative, wire must be laid a certain distance from obstacles. For instance, boundary wire must be put four inches away from a flat driveway. (Photo: Chris Aluka Berry)

He says property slope can determine the unit needed for the site. The same is true for turf type. Mosley says a quicker growing turf on a smaller lawn could call for a different unit.

“When you look at the spec sheets on these units, they may say they can handle an acre, but if you have TifTuf Bermuda, and it’s going to be growing very fast, you may want to take a step up (in the robotic mower line),” he says.

For mowers that require underground wiring, checking for nearby utilities is essential. Mosley says to look out for fiber internet cables because they sit at a similar depth to the robotic mower’s boundary and guide wires, meaning they can get in the way of the installation process.

Plants Creative uses Husqvarna’s CL400 Cable Layer to complete the wiring on a property.

On larger residential or commercial projects, Mosley says it’s important to make sure there is enough wire to cover the property. Plants Creative uses the property measurement service Go iLawn when working on larger properties to help estimate the amount of wire needed.

Wireless mowing

Scythe’s M.52 robotic mower does not require underground wiring, but Renteria says the site scouting and preparation are similar.

“There’s a little bit of site prep to make sure that there aren’t any large items that could get in the way of the robot, like boxes or trash,” says Renteria.

Clean Scapes provides maintenance and design/build services. The company was No. 28 on the 2022 LM150 list with $85 million in reported revenue. Unlike the Husqvarna Automowers, Scythe’s M.52 does not stay on any given property; it travels with the Clean Scapes crew.

The futuristic design of Scythe’s M.52 turns some heads. Erasto Renteria says to be prepared for passers by to ask about the robotic mower while it works. (Photo: Scythe Robotics)
The futuristic design of Scythe’s M.52 turns some heads. Erasto Renteria says to be prepared for passers by to ask about the robotic mower while it works. (Photo: Scythe Robotics)

The M.52 has eight cameras and ultrasonic sensors that detect obstacles and take a course of action to avoid them. If the mower comes across an animal, human or what Scythe calls any other “dynamic obstacles,” the machine will stop and turn off its blades, waiting to start again until the path is clear.

If the machine comes across an obstruction that it does not recognize, it will stop and notify a crew member, asking if the obstruction needs to be moved or if it can mow around it. Once the site is ready for the mower, setup is simple, Renteria says.

“We get it off the truck, and we turn it on and do the perimeter of the property,” he says. “The mower itself recognizes that perimeter. Once you do the first round, it can do the rest on its own. It automatically starts mowing the property.”

Finishing touches

Renteria and Mosley say things don’t stop once the wire has been put in the ground or the perimeter has been mowed, however. In the case of the M.52, Renteria says data management is an important thing to consider.

“You’re labeling that property or that section. It’s really important to have a good naming culture for it,” he says.

Renteria says it’s important for the Clean Scapes team to stay consistent so no matter who operates the mower, the data the mower registers at that property will be consistent. A good naming system should include the property’s name and, if it is a multi-mower property, the part of the property that the mower is responsible for.

For Plants Creative and its Husqvarna mowers, final steps include laying down a guide wire, which Mosley calls the “help me get home fast so I can get charged and get back to work” wire. He says the guide wire is typically installed right down the middle of a property.

“Once you get (the boundary and guide wires) in place, you’re hooking up the charging station and making sure you have a green light, which signifies you have a solid loop,” he says.

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Rob DiFranco

Rob DiFranco is Landscape Management's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Landscape Management, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio.

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