When it comes to setting up your robotic lawn mower, you’ve already been told about the perimeter wire. It basically sets up the boundary for your mower to operate. 

But some mowers have advanced technology where perimeter wire may not be needed; all that’s needed is space for GPS tech. If you’re wondering how long mapping your lawn takes with just robot mower tech as opposed to installing perimeter wire, continue reading to find out.

What is the Virtual Map?

Normally with a robotic lawn mower, you would set the boundaries of your lawn with a perimeter wire. Although, setting that up is time-consuming and requires a bit of strategic thinking.

Read: how do perimeter wires work?

You have to think about whether you want to place it above or underground, and how to handle obstacles. Examples of obstacles include trees, flower beds you don’t want to be mowed over, or shrubs. Generally, you have to place it a certain distance away from the obstacle. 

Doing the setup yourself could take up an afternoon, depending on the size of your lawn. Of course, you could have one of our professionals install it for you instead. 

The virtual map is intended to eliminate the need for laying perimeter wire. Instead, the tech inside a robotic lawn mower creates a virtual outline of your lawn. The map, as a result, is where the mower will navigate through. 

Setting up Your Lawn

Before trying to set up the virtual lawn map, it’ll help if you first clear the yard of any small objects, patio tables, and other outdoor patio furniture. Setting up the virtual map requires you to let the robotic lawn mower navigate your lawn several times. 

However, this means that the mower could mow over flower beds or run into fire pits. The best way to prevent that from happening is to set up a barrier. 

You do this one of two ways. The first is with the traditional help of a perimeter wire, except only in the areas you don’t want it to mow. The other is by placing an elevated border; think of paving stones or bricks for example. 

When you’ve sectioned off the areas you don’t want to be touched, let the mower “learn” your yard. It’ll take a week or two for your robotic mower to fully map your lawn, depending on your lawn’s size and complexity. 

How the Mower Creates the Virtual Map

The primary mapping feature in most robotic lawn mowers is GPS navigation. This lets you see where your mower is from your smartphone. 

The downside with just GPS guidance is that it’s not accurate. Carl Broadbent explains that it could be off by two to ten meters.

But the ever-improving technology is making it so the mower isn’t only reliant on GPS guidance. Some mowers have real-time kinematic GPS, which uses the base station’s location to assist the mower’s movement. 

Other mowers, like some from Husqvarna’s Automower lineup, use smart tech to survey your yard as they mow. From your app, you can mark where on the yard is off limits.

Read: new Automower intelligent mapping technology

Virtual Map vs Perimeter Wire 

You can make a case for either using a virtual map or perimeter wire for setting up the lawn. If you’re on the fence about switching to virtually mapping the lawn, here are the advantages to both.

The Case for Virtual Mapping

For starters, going this route saves you much more time. Most of your effort will come from setting up borders around spots you don’t want to be mowed and removing objects. But that should only take a few minutes at best. 

The main downside is that it would take the mower up to two weeks to get a full mapping of your lawn. That means you may have to occasionally command the mower to stop when it reaches an area you don’t want to be mowed.

The Case for Perimeter Wire

This has been the main way of setting a boundary for your yard since robotic lawn mowing was a thing. Instead of waiting two weeks for a precise lawn mow, you spend one afternoon laying down the wire. From there, you let the mower do its job.

However, perimeter wires can break or fall out of place. That means the robot mower could roam out of range, tip over accidentally, or mow your neighbor’s yard if it’s connected to yours. 

Replacing the wire isn’t super expensive, but you would be forking out over $50 for a new set if yours gets damaged.