If you have a hilly lawn, you’ll know how difficult it can be to mow, especially if you’re using an old-fashioned mower. If you’ve never mowed a hill before, then this article is for you too as there is more than meets the eye when it comes to mowing a hill! The most important thing to consider is which is the best mower for hills.
When you come up against a hill, you need the correct equipment. If you don’t have a good mower for hills, the simple task of keeping your lawn neat and tidy will be much more cumbersome. Selecting the right machine is really important and this guide will tell you all you need to know when it comes to choosing your next mower.
What Type of Mowers can be used for hills?
Push or walk-behind lawn mowers
These are the most traditional of mowers, they turn on and then you push them. These are really common and so there are many different types from the most basic of push mowers to self-propelled mowers for hills.
Riding or tractor mowers
These are useful for people who have a larger area to mow. They are large and have a powerful motor with lots of blades. You ride these instead of pushing them.
Zero-turn mowers are much larger than standard mowers and are only appropriate for large areas of grass. Usually, these aren’t ideal for steep slopes or hills, although it is possible to use one.
A self-propelled mower requires very little effort to move as the mower draws energy from its motor and powers the wheels. For flat lawns, front-wheel drive mowers are fine but for hills, you’ll need an all-wheel-drive mower.
Mower for Hills: Buying Guide
1. Motor/engine type
Choosing a mower with a stronger motor means that you will have ‘help’ pushing the mower up the hill and you will have more control when you come down a hill. The motor power is an important thing to consider when you are on rough terrain or mowing wet or tall grass too.
You can get engine sizes from 190 ccs to 800 ccs and there are motors that are gas-powered, fully electric or hybrid mowers. Hybrid and electric mowers are much more environmentally friendly.
Weight is a big factor to consider when choosing a mower. For hills, you better have a heavier mower as they won’t be likely to tip over on hills.
3. Mower dimensions
Consider the dimension of the mower in terms of where it will be stored in your house or yard. Some mowers can be folded, others are big and require a lot of storage space.
4. Yard size
The mower that you choose needs to be dependent on your yard size. If you have a large yard with a rear-engine mower, it will take you a long time to mow in comparison with a tractor mower.
5. Run time
When choosing a mower, think about how long you might need to use if for in one sitting, especially if it uses batteries of gasoline. Typically, gas motors or hybrids can only be used for an hour at a time.
6. Self-propel function
Mowers that are self-propelled are really easy to control and maneuver. Usually, these mowers have back wheels that run with the engine to help you go uphill.
7. The cut width
The cut width is how wide the mower cuts the grass in one pass. This number is proportional to the number of blades and therefore, the more it has the better.
8. Turning radius
Maneuvering is really important, whatever the terrain. On slopes, turning is more difficult. When choosing a mower, consider the space available for turning.
9. Cruise control
This enables you to choose a mowing speed and maintain it with very little effort required. It’s a great feature for large areas.
10. Engine horsepower (HP)
Horse Power refers to how powerful the engine is and how much power the mower’s components can access.
11. Grass discharge options
There are different discharge options for mowers. Some discharge as you mow, others collect the grass and some can even mulch the grass for fertilizing.
12. Cutting height settings
Some mowers can have their cutting heights adjusted with levers, this is important if you are mowing on surfaces that are rough or uneven.
13. Blade length
This describes how long the blades are and the area that the mower will cut in one pass.
14. Corded or cordless
If a mower is corded, it is electric and therefore needs to be plugged in for use. These require long extension leads for larger lawns. Also, you need to be careful not to mow over the cable. Cordless mowers use gasoline or batteries that are rechargeable. These have fewer safety risks but can be inconvenient if you have a large area to cover.
15. Deck size and adjustability
The size of the mower’s deck determines how maneuverable it is on slopes and hills. Large deck sizes aren’t great for smaller areas. You should take a look at the shape and size of your lawn before choosing a mower.
16. Type of terrain
There are different mowers for different terrains and you should check out a model for the type of ground you are going to be mowing.
17. Wheel drive operation
There are two different wheel drive options: all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive. If your ground is muddy or bumpy, an all-wheel-drive model is what you need.
18. Width of blade deck
The blade deck width varies between models and is dependent on the breadth and length of your lawn. Small decks are great for compact lawns but if you have a large space, you need a large deck.
19. Center of gravity
If your mower has a high center of gravity, it will be more likely to flip over on hills. Mowers that have rear engines have lower centers of gravity whereas tractors have higher centers of gravity.
Each model has a different speed. Generally speaking, garden tractors have speeds in excess of 5 mph and ZRTs are usually 8 mph.
21. Ease of driving
Since mowing is already a challenge, when buying a mower for hills, you should consider its ease of use. Think about how easy it is to start up and maneuver. Nowadays, most mowers are easy to use, especially if you get one from a top brand.
Since you won’t be buying a new mower every other year, you need some peace of mind when it comes to warranty. Warranties give you the reassurance that your investment is protected for a particular length of time.
Most of the best hillside mowers have a two-year warranty.
Hillside Mowing Safety Tips
- It can be dangerous to mow hills but you can do a lot to minimize the risk. If you’re really safety conscious, the safest mowers for hills are walk-behind, self-propelled mowers as you won’t be at risk of it rolling over.
- If you’re using a push mower, you should always be moving side to side as this is the safest way of attacking hills. When you’re using a ride-on mower, though, you must mow up hills and down them in one direction. If you’re working on a large hill or embankment, you might find that this is tedious but it really is the safest way to do things. Unless you have an extremely large yard, you really should go for a self-propelled mower with a rear-wheeled drive.
- Don’t ever underestimate how dangerous rolling a ride-on can be – they can cause fatal accidents.
- To limit risks, you should always wear appropriate protective clothing and gear – don’t neglect your eyes and ears too. Also, check that your lawn is free from obstacles so that you don’t need to get off your mower when you are in the middle of mowing.
- Never allow passengers on a ride-on mower, this is not something that is a toy that children can have a ride on.
Tips for Mowing on a Steep Hill
Mowing steep hills means that you need to consider a lot of things before you begin. You should ensure that you are mowing in the right conditions. Avoid moving when its dark or the lighting is poor and don’t mow when the grass is wet and it is raining. Even a slope in the shade isn’t ideal because it could mean that you don’t see obstructions if your visibility is impaired.
Take steps to inspect the mowing area before you begin. You should look for obstructions such as rocks, sticks and toys. You should always plan your route too before you begin and think about escape routes should you need to have a way out if the brakes fail for example.
Mower Maintenance Tips
You should make sure you follow the maintenance tips for your mower to make the most of it. You can carry out maintenance at any point in the year but it is probably a good idea to carry out maintenance at the end of the mowing season to make sure that your mower is in tip-top condition before you store it away over the winter months. This will also mean that come springtime, you will be able to get moving with your mower straightaway without having to carry out any maintenance.
These are some of the things you should do each year:
- Change oil, if used
- Add fuel stabilizer, if gasoline is used
- Replace spark plugs
- Clean or replace air filters
- Sharpen and balance the mower blades
- Clean your mower
Before you choose your new mower, think about what you want to get out of it the most. Do you want something quick? More reliable? Lighter? Well designed? Before you decide, you’ll need to think about what factors will make an impact on the decision of which mower to buy. Using this best lawn mower for hills review and guide, you should be able to discover a new mower that will meet all of your lawn mowing needs.
We hope that this guide has been informative and has helped you to make that all-important decision in buying your new mower. Happy mowing!
1. Do zero turn mowers work well on hills?
These mowers use casters to allow you to move quickly but they can have issues with the steepest of hills.
2. How do you mow a steep hill?
- Make sure the grass is dry.
- Adjust the mower height as appropriate.
- With a push mower, move side to side.
- With a ride-on mower, move up and down.
3. Do reel mowers work on hills?
You need this type for small and level areas. Steep hills are more challenging but not impossible.
4. How do I measure the slope of my yard?
- Use a stake at the highest point.
- Place a stake every 8ft down the slope until the lowest point.
- Wrap a level length of string between each stake.
- Measure the total string length.
- Measure the distance from the ground on the lowest stake, keeping measurements in the same unit (e.g. replace feet with inches).
- Calculate the percentage by the rise by the run.
5. Can riding mower be dangerous on hills?
Yes. Hills need careful consideration to decide if using the mower is safe. Always refer to the handbook that comes with your mower.
6. Any extra features I should look out for in a ZTR mower?
Look for one with the highest horsepower you can afford as this will make a huge difference. Also, look at the size of the fuel tank to see if you will be able to carry out your task without having to stop to refuel.
7. How much time does a zero-turn radius mower save in comparison to a lawn tractor?
Using the right ZTM can actually reduce the time it takes to mow your lawn by 40%.
8. What is the best method to use riding mowers on hills?
Drive downhill or uphill but never sideways as your mower may flip over.
9. Do mowers require assembly or will they come ready to use?
Most arrive fully assembled apart from the grass collecting bad and the blade. Generally, installing the bag is simple but blades take some more detail and care. You will also need to pour in gasoline or charge up batteries.
10. Can we use push lawn mowers on sloppy hills?
Yes, but it will be a big effort.
11. Can I use push reel mower to cut wet grass?
Yes, these can usually cope with wet grass as well as dry.
12. Are self-propelled lawn mowers better than push mowers?
This depends on what you want. You might be perfectly happy to push your mower across your lawn.
13. What is the average speed of a self-propelled lawnmower?
This depends on the mower type, the terrain, the type of motor and the grass. As an estimation, they move at between 2 and 3 mph.
14. Do self-propelled lawn mowers have backward moving ability?
Yes, most do, although some require a manual back pull.