Conquer the Bumpiest Yard with the Best Mower for Hills

Our recommendation for best mower for hills is the Snapper HI VAC Rear Wheel Drive Self Propelled Lawn Mower. This is an excellent, safe choice for mowing hilly yards or lawns, as its self-propelled motor will help maneuver your hills easily, with just some guidance from you. In addition to this pick, though, we’ve come up with a few other hill-friendly mower recommendations which you can find below.

Our Top 5 Picks for Best Mowers for Hills:

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Best Types of Lawn Mowers for Hills

There are many types of lawn mowers to choose from, but understanding the differences between them can be confusing. If you have a yard with a lot of slopes and hills, you must understand the risks involved when mowing, and choose a mower that will be of safest use to you.

The two safest types of mowers for hilly terrain are the self-propelled mower and a ride-on mower.

A self-propelled mower uses its motor to be the driving force of its wheels, unlike a push mower, which relies on you to push it. You’ll need to guide a self-propelled mower in the right direction to make sure it stays on course, but it will do most of the labor for you.

This makes it an excellent choice for hills, because the motor will help the mower climb up hills easily. You’ll just have to be careful that it doesn’t get out of your control when moving back down a hill. Push mowers can give you a bit more control, but you’ll have to use your strength to maneuver them over hills.

Ride-on mowers can also be good choices for the navigation of hills, with some exceptions. Generally, ride-on mowers do best on only small inclines. Their design makes them more top-heavy than other mowers, so some slopes may cause them to topple, which poses a significant safety hazard to the rider (source).

There are some ride-on mowers, however, that are specifically designed to handle steeper hills. These mowers are usually lower to the ground, have special wheels for traction, and are wider than other ride-on mowers.

Mowers to Stay Away From

The zero turn radius mower is one that should not be used for hills, in most cases. These mowers can be somewhat dangerous on flat land, but are especially dangerous on inclines. They use their rear wheels to steer, allowing them to turn a full 360 degrees in one location.

On a hill, turning in such a way can cause the mower to easily topple over. Additionally, the best zero turn radius mowers tend to go faster than other mowers, and they turn faster, creating even more danger on hills (source).

How to Mow Hills Safely with Ride-On Mowers

According to Consumer Reports, about 15,000 injuries and 61 deaths occurred from ride-on mowers in 2007 alone. Although ride-on mowers come with several safety features, like a seat belt and roll bar, there are still so many things that can go wrong if the mower topples, causing extreme danger to the rider. This risk is especially prevalent when mowing slopes or hills.

However, there are things you can do to keep yourself safer if you choose a ride-on mower. With the proper safety precautions, your ride-on mower can do an excellent job maneuvering your hills.

  • Remember that ride-on mowers should only be used for smaller slopes of 30 degrees or less. If you are unsure what a 30 degree slope looks like, check out this helpful video by Ventrac:
  • Opt for front-steering ride-on tractors only, rather than rear-wheel models, like a zero turn radius mower. This will give you more traction and perfect riding safety on hills.
  • Once you purchase a ride-on mower, give yourself plenty of time to understand its operation, controls, and maneuverability. Never try to start mowing hills right after purchase, without familiarizing yourself with the machine.
  • Always buckle your seat belt or lap bar, which will increase the effectiveness of the roll bar, should the machine topple over. It’s also wise to wear a helmet, in case the mower should roll over.
  • Mow on dry grass only, which helps the mower gain traction needed for hills.
  • Only mow grass going up and down the hill, never sideways. Sideways mowing should be reserved for walk-behind mowers for more control.

How to Mow Hills Safely with Self-Propelled or Push Mowers

Push mowers and self-propelled mowers can be much more safe for mowing hills than ride-ons, and may be a better choice for those who are beginners with mowing hills. Still, there are several things you should remember to do for safety purposes when mowing grass on hills with walk-behind mowers:

  • Mow down slopes as much as possible, rather than uphill, which risks the mower falling back on you. If you need to move sideways across a hill, always remain behind the mower, never on the side, with both hands firmly on the bar.
  • Mow dry grass only, for proper traction.
  • Self-propelled mowers can provide easier maneuverability and traction than push mowers, but become very familiar with the controls and handling before setting off to mow hills.
  • Adjust your mower to its highest cutting height on slopes, which will prevent it from getting caught on high, tough grass and turning unexpectedly on hills (source).
  • If your mower has a variable speed, set it to its lowest before you begin mowing.
  • Wear heavy duty shoes to protect your feet, and long pants and long-sleeved shirt. Gripping gloves can also help you maintain control of a push mower on hills.

Our Recommendation for Best Mower for Hills: Snapper HI VAC Rear Wheel Drive Self Propelled Lawn Mower

The Snapper HI VAC Rear Wheel Drive Self Propelled Lawn Mower is one of our top choices for best mower for hills. Since mowing on hills safely requires a lawn mower with excellent traction, this self-propelled mower edges out the competition with its rear wheel drive.

The rear wheels on this mower are larger than the front wheels, which also adds more traction to the mower. Additionally, it features a smooth-turn differential which provides easier maneuverability than other models, which is a bonus for mowing on hills.

For best, and safest, operation of this mower on your hills, remember to adjust the cutting height to the highest position. The mower features 7 heights, so if the highest cut is too high, you can try the next height until you get one that works for your lawn. But, keep it as high as you can to avoid snagging grass and having unexpected jolts or turns.

Never pull this mower back toward you when mowing. Since it’s self-propelled, it’s meant to go forward. Once you reach the end of a row on a hill, gently guide the mower to make a slow U-turn to mow in the opposite direction. Allow the mower to move itself, while you safely guide it to where it needs to go. John Deere garden tractors, Cub Cadet, Kohler, and Craftsman are other brands to consider as well.

Photo by John Markos O’Neill licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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