I hate mowing the lawn. First off, a vast expanse of unproductive grass is a waste—why have grass when you could have a garden, or an orchard, or all sorts of other useful plants? That I have to push around a device just to maintain this green wasteland makes it doubly insulting.

Fortunately, this summer I unleashed the Husqvarna 435X AWD automower on my lawn. Now I never have to think about mowing it again.

Robot Love

The Husqvarna 435X is the high-end, all-wheel-drive version of the company’s robotic lawn mower line; Husqvarna has less-expensive models that can accomplish the same thing. The 435X costs more because it’s specifically designed to handle sloping yards and rough terrain, both of which are landscape features at the house I rent. 

The results of the 435X far exceeded my expectations. Admittedly, my expectations were low: Just make it so I don’t have to mow the lawn. The 435X is capable of much more than that. I never ran into problems, aside from getting hung up in fallen tree branches from time to time. In over six months of testing, that was the only trouble it ever had. It produced the healthiest, most well-manicured lawn in our area. Every delivery person that came to our house asked about both the lawn and the curious creature roaming it. 

The secret to the 435X’s lawn-care prowess lies in the spinning razor blades. Yes, the 435X is an automated robot equipped with spinning razor blades. (I always made a point to be polite and kind to it, in hopes that it will spare me in the inevitable robot uprising.) Because it mows much more regularly than you or a lawn service would, the 435X cuts tiny pieces of grass at a time. This is the secret to a healthy lawn. When you let grass get long and then mow it back, you leave significant piles of cut grass behind—even if you use a catcher. These piles smother the grass that’s trying to grow, opening the ecological playground of your yard to weeds.

There is one secret to getting the perfect lawn from your robot helper: Change the blades regularly. Husqvarna’s official recommendation is to change your blades every one to two months, with the caveat that it will vary depending on the type of grass and soil at your house. I found every two months to be about right. For testing purposes, I let it go considerably longer, and the quality of mowing suffered. I also found that it’s good to check regularly to make sure all the blades are still there. I twice lost blades to branches that had fallen and passed under the automower.

The other thing you will still need to do is clear any lawn debris. At my house, the lawn is shaded by some 100-year-old pecan trees. They’re wonderful for shade, but they drop branches pretty regularly in the wind. Those hung up the 435X if I didn’t clear them. Still, picking up the occasional tree branch is a small price to pay.

Photograph: Husqvarna

The 435X is relentless. It mows rain or shine, night or day, whenever and however much you want it to mow. I played with this quite a bit, mowing all day every day versus mowing every few days and only a couple of hours. I did not keep precise track, but it seemed to cover the roughly one-acre of lawn it was tasked with in about six hours of mowing.