Errr, make that the yard.
Quick. What am I doing right now? I mean, right now, this very instant. Yes, I'm typing this blog entry but what else am I doing? I'm cutting my lawn. Really.
Late last year we had a rather talented chap come in, brave the coldness of Alberta in September, and proceed to lay out 10,000 square feet of sod (no easy feat). That's the size of our backyard. Of course come the spring brings the weeds, and the grass, and the chore of cutting all this new grass. There I was faced with the decision. Should I buy a ride-on mower and be a weekend Andretti, chewing up the grass, and probably killing myself or at least one of the dogs in the process. Or is there a better option?
Enter the RL1000 Robomow from Friendly Robotics. Yeah, I kid you not. I heard about it through the grapevine, did some research and lo and behold most people felt it was a good buy. It's the same cost as a ride-on mower so it was one or the other. The geek in me of course chose the robot. After all, how many people can claim to have a robot do their backyard lawn cutting for them?
It arrived on Friday and I spent part of Saturday setting it up. I felt like Sam Neill in Bicentennial Man when their Robot (in the guise of Robin Williams) gets delivered to the house, although the Robomow doesn't talk, do dishes, or take care of kids it does a splendid job of cutting grass. It took me about an hour to lay out 500 feet of perimeter wire. This is a long piece of wire pegged into the ground that holds it down and surrounds your lawn. The Robomow, on it's first run, will travel around the perimeter following the wire and get a feel for how your backyard is layed out. Luckily ours, while huge, is pretty much square with a small section on either side of the house.
After pegging everything in, I fired it up and had Sheila (RedvsBlue fans will know where this comes from) go around the figure stuff out. Once that worked (and it did on the first shot, I was impressed) I commanded her to do my bidding and mow that lawn. First it edges the lawn, cutting along where the perimeter is setup, then it criss-crosses over the middle part. It does this several times and as it hits each edge, it will make a small adjustment and go back the way it came (in a slightly altered direction from where it came). After 3 or 4 passes it's done. It takes about 2-3 hours to do the lawn but I just sit back and don't worry about it.
Works like a charm, although a) I had to go and remove some of the larger weeds in the middle of the ground as Sheila got stuck on them and b) you still have to trim the edges but it only takes about 20 minutes for that (and less for a smaller lawn). All in all, a good investment. I have it programmed now to go every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 7pm. This leaves me the chore of watering the beast on Sundays which is fine for me and keeps everything short and sweet. There's no bagging, it just mulches things down to a fine cut and is actually better for the lawn overall.
If you're looking for a new geek toy and have a big, flat, square(ish) lawn I highly recommend the Robomow. It really does work as advertised.