Saving time, creating healthy lawns, and bringing peace

Map of the Lake Champlain basin.

There are several great things about robotic mowers like Mo. First, they save you time, which we know is important to landowners in the Lake Champlain basin when it comes to lawn mowing.

As we started the Raise the Blade project, we surveyed people around the Lake Champlain basin to understand their lawn care practices and motivations to potentially mow their grass no shorter than 3″ in length if they were not doing so already. (Check out this Lake Champlain Basin Program map that you can zoom in on to see if your town lies within this drainage basin).

Infographic of Lake Champlain basin survey results. PDF available at:

More than 1000 people from 56 towns across the Lake Champlain basin answered our survey. (Thank you all!)

We learned that almost 90% of homeowners mow their lawns (rather than having someone else do it), and on average, 75% cut their lawns shorter than 3″. We also learned that homeowners in the basin would be motivated to cut their grass to the recommended 3″ length for three main reasons:

  • If the lawn was healthier as a result
  • If mowing it to that length was good for the environment
  • If they had to mow less often

The first two are absolutely true, and therefore make our job of marketing these best practices to the majority of people who cut their lawns to 2-3″ pretty easy. Unfortunately, cutting your lawn following the three recommended practices (i.e., cutting the grass no shorter than 3″ in height; cutting only 1/3 of the length of the grass blades in any one cutting, and leaving the clippings in place to decompose) doesn’t result in less time mowing, unless you either get someone else to mow it for you or get something else to mow it for you. There’s where Mo comes in. We have him programmed to mow every week day for several hours. That frees up time for us to do other things besides mowing the lawn on our weekends or weeknights.

Having said that, it occurs to me that I should mention that robotic mowers like Mo don’t have blades like your traditional gas-powered mower. Instead they have just three 1″ razor blades.

Rather than cut every blade of grass they go over, Mo and his fellow robots rely upon lots of time spent out doing their job, and many passes over the same spot to ensure every blade of grass is cut.

Close up image of Mo's blade with a dime for size comparison.
Here’s a close up of one of Mo’s blades with the dime for size comparison.

Additional benefits of using a robotic mower are that it can be programmed to — or it automatically follows — all three recommended grass-cutting practices. This helps to boost your lawn’s health, soil health, and ultimately benefits water quality by minimizing the amount of stormwater that will run off from the yard. Specifically:

  • We set Mo to cut the grass to 3″ in length.
  • Each time Mo heads out in our yard to mow, he cuts only a small amount of the length of the grass blades.
  • Mo always leaves the clippings to decompose in place.
Photo of the inside of a robotic mower where the length of grass height to cut to is set by a dial.

Of the three practices, only setting the length to which Mo cuts the grass needs to be done manually, and this is easily done by turning a dial under the main cover on the body of the mower.

Photo of a bird through a window screen.

One further benefit of robotic mowers is that they are beautifully quiet. Being electric, most of the sound we hear from Mo’s direction is a slight hum and a kind of scissor-like sound of the grass blades being cut. For all intents and purposes though, Mo is silent in comparison to a traditional gas-powered mower. So, we feel good about not contributing to noise pollution in our neighborhood. All the more time to listen to the birds.

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