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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Mowing Forward

East Fork Landscape goes robotic

By Mike McKenna

The future of lawn care has arrived in the Wood River Valley.

East Fork Landscape is now offering robotic lawn mowing services that are not only better for the environment, but are much quieter and less intrusive than traditional lawn mowers.

“We have the technology to do this, to take care of lawns in a better way,” said Derek Hagberg, owner of East Fork Landscape Management. “Robotic lawn care is big in Europe and we’re just starting to come around to it in America. We may be the only place in Idaho doing this commercially right now, but we have a lot of confidence in this product. It’s the future of lawn care.”

Derek has a horticultural degree from Iowa State and has been running East Fork Landscape for 12 years. His wife and business partner, Stephanie Cook, is an arborist and also has a degree in landscape construction from Ohio State. In 2017, they decided to step into the future of lawn care and invested in their first robotic lawn mower. They were quickly hooked on the benefits and have been adding to their fleet of robots ever since.

“There are lots of benefits to using robotic mowers and we found that they really meet the needs of our clients,” Derek explained. “They offer more privacy. They’re quiet. They’re consistent. They’re safer. They’re as cost effective, if not cheaper, than regular mowing and they’re more environmentally friendly. They allow us to transition from fuel consumption to battery usage.”

East Fork Landscape has gone primarily to battery usage in everything they do, which cuts down on their fossil fuel needs, emissions and noise pollution. Battery-operated equipment also tends to be quieter—except for leaf blowers, of course.

While robotic lawn care does cut down on the amount of time people need to be working on the property, it doesn’t completely eliminate human-powered help. It just changes the roles.

The process for robotic lawn care follows this format: A robotic lawn mower and its housing are assigned to a property. The lawn is then mapped using GPS and the mower is left there for the season. A schedule is created that works best with the client’s wishes. Robotic mowers cut less off the grass, but mow more often. The smaller, regular cuts from the robotic mower create better mulching for the lawn and help battle weeds from getting established. Since they are so quiet, they can run anytime, including the middle of the night. A crew then comes by on a regular schedule to do other work, like weed whacking and mower maintenance. The robotic mowers only weigh a fraction of regular mowers as well, so there’s less compaction.

“The upside of this is huge,” Derek said about the robotic mowing movement. “It’s a lot less intrusive and impactful. It fights weeds better. It causes less compaction, which means the grass is softer and healthier. The end result is a better overall lawn.”

For more information, go to EastForkLM.com or call (208) 450-9649.

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