Husqvarna has introduced Rewilding Mode, an exclusive eco-friendly Automower® programming feature and industry first concept that leaves 10% of a yard unmowed. The goal: prompt the area to return to a natural, biodiversity-friendly state in which wildflower species and pollinating insects—including bees and butterflies—flourish.
To date, 1,780 Automowers® have activated Rewilding Mode globally, equal to 147,360 square meters in total of rewilding zone, an area equivalent to more than 20 soccer fields.
To rewild, an Automower’s® satellites measure the size of a yard and calculate the ideal rewilding zone, which can be selected, altered in location, or made larger. Rewilding Mode is available for the 415X and 435X AWD Automower® models. Plus, Husqvarna offers options including Automower® Area Switch and Automower® FlexiFence that let all Automower users set biodiversity-creating “stay-out zones.”
Award-winning lawn and garden designer and biodiversity advocate Tom Massey worked with Husqvarna to further offer these tips:
- To maintain a rewiliding zone. Cut as infrequently as possible – ideally as little as once or twice per year, like Summer and Fall. • Remove all clippings after cutting. This will reduce soil fertility and encourage flowering species while hindering grasses from dominating. • If bulbs are planted on the site, don’t cut the grass for six weeks after bulbs have finished flowering. Bulbs need the leaves to photosynthesize and store energy to flower again next year. Wait until leaves are yellow and flaccid. • In Fall, while trimming the meadow, enhance its flora in the coming season by adding more plug plants or bulbs.
- Replace the lawn with wildflower meadow turf. Meadow turf is a pre-grown species rich meadow mix that comes in rolls like standard lawn turf. It is laid like lawn turf but contains many more species of plants including many flowering species for pollinators. There are also numerous seed mixes on the market, but meadow turf is a more guaranteed way to successfully establish a meadow as it will suppress weeds and has been grown to a level of maturity in advance. Simply remove the area of lawn to be converted and lay the meadow turf in place, following the supplier’s installation guidelines. Look for a product with plenty of different species for added biodiversity.
3. Select the best plants for rewilding. Pollinators and other invertebrates benefit from having a wide range of native and non-native plants. Non-native plants should also be considered as they can be more resilient to the effects of climate change (i.e. drought) and extend the flowering period of a native-only planting scheme. Aim for at least five different species of flowering plants.
4. Add wildflower plug plants to speed things up. To install the plugs, first, mow the area of the lawn and remove the grass cuttings. Then plant the plugs in randomized layouts for a natural effect. Aim for 5-10 plants per square meter.
5. Add bulbs for Spring and Fall. Bulbs are typically planted in Fall (for Spring flowering) and Spring (for Summer and Fall flowering). There are very early spring flowering bulbs, such as snowdrops (Galanthus species), that emerge when the landscape is looking bare. Try to plant bulbs that bloom one after the other.
6. Be playful with long grass. To make a rewilding zone even more interesting and useful, you can introduce purposeful design – for example, leave ‘islands’ of grass around trees, or create pathways through long grass to open areas. Get creative, resize and reshape, and perhaps even try out complex features like a labyrinth for a bit of fun.
7. Benefit from parasitic plants. Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) is semi-parasitic on grass species, meaning its roots attach to grass roots and draw nutrients from them. Most grasses species are very vigorous and dominant and often outcompete wildflowers. Yellow rattle can help weaken grass dominance allowing other species to establish. It can help to open up an area of long grass for other plants to establish whilst also looking attractive and adding biodiversity too. The seeds need to be sown in Fall and will germinate the following Spring.
8. Don’t use chemical pesticides and fertilizers. To encourage wildflowers and reduce grass dominance, infertile soil is preferable, so you won’t need to feed or fertilize the rewilding zone. If you do need to fertilize, consider using compost, or organic feeds such as seaweed based fertilizers.
9. Add diverse habitats to encourage pest-predators. By leaving areas of shelter, such as long grass, artfully stacked logs, or a small pond, you can encourage predators like toads who can help keep unwelcome visitors such as aphids, slugs, and snails at bay by eating them.
10. Harvest rainwater. Consider harvesting rainwater to reduce pressure on main supplies and reduce the cost of water bills on a property. This can be as simple as diverting down pipes into rain barrels.
The eco-friendly Rewiliding Mode feature is part of Husqvarna’s ongoing sustainability commitment. The brand hopes to inspire the landscape industry and its customers alike as outlined in their 2022 Sustainability Report. The report includes the company’s goal to double the sales of emissions-free, battery Automowers®. They are also seeking to increase the net sales of electrified battery products from 38% to 67% within five years.
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