Your Mowing Questions Answered: What’s the Best Mower for Hills?
Mowing hills certainly vexes many property owners in our PowerPro service area here in Central PA, and we often get asked the question, “what’s the best mower for hills?” After all, if your property features a lot of hills or sloping terrain, it’s no secret that mowing these areas poses a unique challenge since most residential lawnmowers are not rated for mowing slopes greater than about 15 degrees. It’s just not safe to mow steep inclines due to rollover risk.
Maybe you tackle these zones with string trimmers and edgers today because you haven’t found a better solution. But it sure would be nice to mow these areas, right?
Today’s post gives you a few options to explore, since the answer to our title question really is, “it depends.” Read on to learn more.
Safety First: Why You Can’t Mow Steep Hills with Most Mowers—Even Zero Turns
In our recent blog post touting all the benefits of zero turn mowers compared to walk-behinds and traditional lawn tractors, we praised these mean lawn machines’ mowing speed, turning radius precision, and comfort.
However, there’s a drawback—zero turn mowers are not made for mowing serious hills any more than other residential riders or lawn tractors. So, if your yard has steeply sloped areas—and especially if you have stream banks or ponds at the bottom of those areas—you won’t be able to rely just on a zero turn for mowing.
Well, some of the reason that riding mowers and zero turns can’t handle slopes is simply due to the way they are weighted with you—the driver—perched on top of a seat. Add baggers or lawn/leaf vacuums and other attachments to your mower, and the transmission may not be able to handle the load.
Additionally, even slightly damp grass—which is fine to drive on and cut over a flat surface—becomes a traction challenge. Rear differential lock technology can help improve traction on mowers that have this feature, but it’s often not enough to provide the ability to mow slopes greater than 15 degrees. Some property owners may install tire chains to increase traction, but if your zero turn or tractor has a larger mowing deck of about 46 inches or more, you likely won’t have clearance even to install chains on your rear wheels.
So what options are available to property owners like you to be able to mow hills to acceptable cutting heights?
Other Lawn Mower Options for Steep Hills
The best option FOR YOU will be the one that’s most easy to use and affordable—which will vary based on your unique property characteristics—and perhaps your tolerance for physical labor!
Certain Walk-Behind Mowers and Commercial Stand-Ons
While traction can still be an issue, some of the more robust walk-behind mowers—like many of the options we sell from Toro—can help you mow steeper slopes that aren’t safe to ride. Features like Traction Assist technology and sensors that can adjust self-propelled speeds to your preferred pace help make these walk-behinds the best mower for hills in many cases.
You might also consider shopping commercial-grade stand-on mowers as a better-weighted lawn mower for hills. Toro’s GrandStand® models and Hustler’s Super Z are an excellent example of the low center of gravity design of stand-on mowers that allow them to hug hills and slopes. Operators can easily adjust their stance or shift their weight to influence traction with these mowers, too. The only drawback with stand-ons is that they are expensive compared to walk-behinds and even most riding mowers.
Remote-controlled mowers—like the ones we sell from Spider—are often explicitly marketed as slope mowers, as they are rated for hills up to about 40 degrees in steepness. Because the operator controls the mower from a distance instead of having to ride or push it physically, these machines are incredibly safe. Some models may even be programmable, which means you can do something else while your robotic mower works by itself!
Wing Mower Attachments for Your Tractor
Already have a utility or farm tractor on your property? Mowing slopes safely could involve utilizing an attachment known as a wing mower, which you tow behind your tractor to mow a slope either uphill or downhill from the flatter terrain where you’re driving.
Using wing mower attachments takes skill, and they often can’t handle super steep slopes, but if you have tall grass or brush to clear, they may be a good option. Our friends at Mahindra have some attachments available for their unbeatable utility tractors, if you’re in the market.
What if I Have an Area That’s “Unmowable”?
While it can be difficult to admit that your property has gotten the upper hand, some challenging pieces of terrain just can’t be mowed. There are other ways to tackle caring for these particularly troublesome spots, but sometimes the best answer is simply to landscape them—or employ a herd of goats!
All joking aside, you might consider planting trees to create a forested slope that will require little ongoing maintenance from you or renovating difficult areas near your home to be hardscaped patios or rock gardens.
Trust the Mowing and Grounds Care Experts at PowerPro Equipment
No matter what unique challenges you have to face in caring for your lawn and property here in Pennsylvania and beyond, the knowledgeable equipment experts at PowerPro are always here to answer your questions. If you’re looking for a new mower, you can check out some of our online catalogs for our favorite brands, like Spartan and Hustler, or give us a call today!