Best Riding Mower For Hills
Mowing the grass can be as relaxing as walking in the park but can also be tedious especially if you have a large lawn with steep terrain which of course calls the need for the best riding mower for hills. But how would you know which riding mower to use when there are lawn tractors and the zero turn riding mowers which are said to be the best machines for mowing grassy hills.
We all need to use riding mowers for three reasons. One, you need to cut a vast area of grass to make it more handsome-looking. Two, you cannot afford to march along with your 4-stroke lawn mower especially if your knees are hurting and three, you can waste a lot of time mowing a wide grassy area with small terrains using the walk-behind mowers. So it’s either for aesthetics, physical or practical reasons that you may need to use the best riding lawn mower for hills.
If you are wondering why we need to be specific and choose only the best mower for hills when it seems that all riding mowers are the same? Well, there is a bit of misconception here. Not all riding mowers can go up and down the hills and do sideways tracing because some of these machines are light, narrow, too tall, or too small they have the potential to topple or roll over because of the pull of gravity. So, yes, there are actually dangers in mowing hills using these machines that is why when we choose our riding mowers, we have to consider its design, weight and features to make it safe to drive even on uneven grounds.
Dangers of Mowing
Have you heard about the “spider mowers”? These are the robotic mowing machines that you could remotely control and make it go up and down the slopes like controlling a toy car. They were invented to prevent people from having accidents due to the use of riding mowers on slopes. So there are some risks in riding heavy, cutting machines and driving it up and down the hills while the blade underneath also poses the risks in case the machines topple or fall sideways.
In the event of accidents in mowing hilly areas, this usually happens on golf courses where ponds are common parts of the topography. Ponds usually have undulating terrains around them and grass can grow fast in these areas because it can get nourishment from these bodies of water. When the call for the use of riding mowers arises, this is also where the problems come up because few feet around these ponds are soft grounds and few feet more are slopes. So when lawn maintenance personnel even use the best riding lawn mower for hills, accidents could still happen.
Already, several people have met grave accidents while trying to mow steep hills with uncertain topography using riding mowers which have caused the machines to topple. So if you want to be safe riding a mower on hills, better heed what we are about to tell you. But first, let us tell you about the zero turn mowers which some people thought are safer to use for hills.
Best Zero Turn Mower for Hills
The first riding mower was introduced in the 1950s and a decade after that, the zero turn mowers were also invented. These types of riding mowers are faster and easier to drive and have rear wheels that are hydraulically powered. They were also built to have a low center of gravity thus are more stable even on hills. This is why some people consider the best zero turn mower for hills to be the breakthrough in grass mowing. The zero turns are known to be faster and more accurate than the tractor lawns in terms of mowing the plains. They can move around trees and edges without difficulty. But are they better than the traditional lawn tractors when it comes to uphill mowing?
Why the zero turn mowers on hills deserved to be checked is because these machines have very low set up compared to the traditional lawn tractors which have already proven their worth as some of the best riding mowers for hills. If we think about physics, what makes the ZTR (zero turn riding) mowers more stable is their design – they have lower and wider set up so the greater gravity can hold them down. Another thing that can make the best zero turn for hills a good choice is its weight. Most of the ZTRs are heavier compared to their lawn tractor counterparts so the heavier they get, the greater they can be pulled down by gravity towards the ground.
Moreover, there is a precaution when using any type of riding mower on slopes. That the slope should not go beyond the 15-degree angle. Otherwise, any riding mower that will tread more than this level will face the risk of falling sideways or toppling downward due to the loss of momentum. Further below, we will compare the lawn tractors with the zero turns to give you ideas that can be better for slopes. So right now, you should know some precautionary tips when choosing your best riding mower for hills.
Safety Tips for Choosing
You want advice on how to choose the best riding lawn mower for hills but need not sacrifice your safety? Here are some tips to remember – Check the rear wheels. Take note that with all riding mowers, the rear wheels have the best capability to carry the machine up and down the slope. Front-wheel drives are best for leveled ground but when it comes to descending and ascending slopes, it is the rear wheels that carry the weight of the machine. But if you can find an all-wheel-driven riding lawn mower, this is better.
The only problem with some of the riding mowers today is their wheels which are smooth and with small diameters which are perfect for mowing on plains but can make them lose their grips on slopes especially if the grass is wet and slippery. So consider the traction of the wheels also when looking for the best mower for hills.
Consider the center of gravity (CoG) of the machine. Riding mowers have different locations of their engines so there are the front-mounted and the rear-mounted engine types. Both of them are good for plains and even grounds. But remember that wherever the engine is located, this becomes the center of gravity of the machine. So when choosing for the best riding mower for hills, choose one that has a heavier, almost centered engine and is low-mounted so that it can be closer to the ground.
Choose units with larger rear wheels for better traction and stability. Most all-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive riding mowers have wheels of the same size which make them the ideal units to crawl on flat ground. So if you try to crawl your machine on some steep terrain and you could feel the engine working harder and the machine getting slower even on high gears, maybe that is because the rear wheels are smooth and small.
For the best zero turn mower for hills even though it has caster wheels and lighter front, usually it is the CoG and its low-level features that make it a good crawler for ascending and descending grounds.
Check the size of the Cutting Deck. Like we always say, the wider the cutting deck, the heavier and the better this can contribute to the stability of the riding lawn mower. Added to that, the deck also provides a better pressing control on the machine as gravity will be pulling the machine towards the ground. The only problem with a wide deck are obstructions like trees. In this case, you can try looking for a unit with the hydrostatic transmission so you can control your unit’s speed and can go around obstacles with more controllable speed and not lose your balance.
If you already have your riding lawn mower and still worry about trimming your grass on hilly areas, then better learn the techniques on how to pass along the grass without the danger of your machine toppling down. Below are some tricks and tips you should consider.
How To Use Your Best Riding Mower
Generally speaking, all riding mowers are not designed for hill mowing beyond 15-degree slopes and you can find this on almost all of these machines’ user manuals. But a slope is a slope and if you are not too careful and don’t have a good plan and how you would go, even a 15-degree slope could have the potential of giving you risks. But we have some tips for you to be safe and here are some of them.
Things to Remember when mowing on slopes:
Don’t rush. Your speed must always be constant and not fast. So take it easy, take your time on the slopes and always shift your transmission to low gear. If you feel that the front tires are not pushing the machine anymore, slowly turn your machine, go to a more leveled ground and slowly go downhill.
Revving up your machine to scramble upward while the rear wheels stopped grabbing the ground may cause the front of your mower to rise in case the wheels suddenly get traction. So turn slowly so that the rear wheels will slowly get back to their momentum and move on.
Even the best zero turn mowers for hills are designed to make sharp U-turns, these should not be done on hills especially when the machine is in an awkward upward motion. Doing so may cause unbalance on your machine and it may tilt on the side. The safest thing you can do is to mow it up and down regardless if you are riding the best mower for hills or the ZTR. This mowing method will let you avoid tipping or rolling your machine on its side.
In case you feel that your riding mower could not handle the angle, do not force your machine because once your machine starts tilting, you may panic and do unnecessary things like turning the machine the wrong way. The right thing you should do is pass only the slopes that your machine can handle and the rest of the uncut grass could be done using a walk-behind or a rechargeable lawn mower. This could take time but at least it is safer for you.
Before you start your engine to mow a slope, check the area first for any bumps, lumps, stones and edges like gutters, the root of the trees, or metallic objects that may cause your blade some damages and make your machine lose its balance. You must also avoid steep edges of ponds or any embankment because the edges of these areas are usually soft and soaked with water and can tip over your mower.
Never mow wet grass, especially if you have to go up the slopes. Wet grass is slippery, heavy and can clog up your mower. Slippery grass can spell trouble once your wheels start to slide up and the worst thing that could happen is you with your machine sliding down the hill. The more experienced landscapers and gardeners know that trying to mow wet, grassy hills can be a risky undertaking.
But how about the zero turn lawn mowers, do we also need to remember the same precautions? Yes, but we also have more advice because the ZTRs have different designs and height than the traditional riding mowers.
The Best Riding Mower for Hills Vs
Not many of us know that the ZTRs can mow grass 50% faster than the common riding mowers which we also call the “lawn tractors”. The traditional lawn tractors can cut grass at about 3 to 4 mph while the standard ZTR can cruise at 5 – 8 mph. The best assets of the ZTR also include the capability to go around edges and hedges which the lawn tractors can have difficulty reaching. But how about when it comes to mowing the hills and terrains, how do the best riding mower for hills can fare against the best zero turn mower for hills?
Here are some of the summaries from some people’s comments who own and regularly use these machines.
The Riding Lawn Mowers
The riding lawn mowers have a good balance with their whole set up as their engines are mostly on the front of the machine. This feature can provide a good weight balance to counter the pull of gravity when going uphill.
Most of the front wheels of the riding lawn mowers are larger and of the same size so that helps in maintaining a good balance and traction to the ground. However, the design of these machines is higher from the ground so this is a negative feature if you need a machine with a lower set up for the uphill climb and this is where the ZTR is better designed for.
The Zero Turn
The best zero turn for hills has a lower set up which provides better stability to the whole machine. They can crawl slowly but surely uphill and downhill and you feel closer to the ground and can see a lot of clearance up front.
Unfortunately, the design of the zero turns also contributes to its weaknesses and we are referring to the caster wheels that do not provide supporting traction into the rear wheels. In other words, the zero turns are lighter on the front and this is an unavoidable downside.
So if the slope goes above the 10 degrees, avoid the ZTR.
But according to many gardeners, you can also counteract this negative feature of the ZTR and that is by not driving the machine more than 4 to 5 mph and not making a U-turn while on the slope but turn slowly into a more leveled ground first.
Reviews for the Best Riding Lawn Mowers
Troy-Bilt 540cc Briggs & Stratton Intek Automatic 46-Inch Riding Lawn Mower
We should say that this is the best riding lawn mower for hills if you are looking for a medium-sized and affordable unit for your uneven lawn grounds. Weighing about 520 pounds, it can deal pretty well on soft slopes and terrains while it also has a wide 46-inch wide side discharge mowing deck.
Why we pick this one is because of its mow-in-reverse capability so you do not need to do turns while on slopes which help save you time rather than finding an even ground to make a turn. Having a 5-different cutting position can save you trouble from adjusting its deck manually when dealing with terrains that have the potential to damage your cutting blades.
Troy-Bilt mowers are proven to be among the most durable mowing machines today and they can last for years with proper maintenance. This unit also offers a 2-year limited warranty.
Ariens 915223 IKON-X 52″ Zero Turn Mower 23hp Kawasaki FR691 Series
Easy to adjust its cutting height from 1.5” to 4.5” using only a dial located near the operator, its 4-point dual-arm hanging system also helps in preventing movements of the deck. For durability, its frame is made of 3-inch steel that can reduce the flexing of the chassis while improving its maneuverability towards the slopes.
The high-back seat can also provide good back support and comfort while the armrests are adjustable to help you avoid hand fatigue. With a full lubrication system and full-flow filter, this machine requires fewer maintenance needs. It does not have a front and back light though but if you need a riding mower for uphill work, better save it for the daylight work. As we have said, even the best mower for hills can face some risks when mowing the slopes so mowing with limited light can also add to the risks.
Choosing the best mower for hills is not easy because presumably, all riding mowers are designed for mowing flat, level grounds. But if the slope does not exceed the 15-degree level, this is not much of a problem if you know which riding mower model to choose and know how to use it.
As mentioned, all riding mowers like the lawn tractors have the same designs. The same goes for the zero turns. But if you need to purchase any of these units, do not forget to consider what we have told you about: the size of the wheels and its traction features, the width of the mowing deck, and total weight of the machine.
Now, here are the other alternatives you can do if you do not feel safe using a riding mower for hills.
First, you can create some natural designs on those hills so that mowing would not be needed like putting up flower or vegetable gardens. The second option is planting it with grass that does not grow long like bermuda grass. And the last option if you want to keep the grass there well-trimmed is using the safest grass trimming methods like using grass trimmers or petrol grass cutters or rechargeable hedge trimmers. It may take you some time to finish trimming the slopes but these could be the best and safest ways to keep the grass in the slopes well-maintained.