Hilly yards look great aesthetically but are difficult to mow. Infact, any incline above 15 degrees is considered challenging given that most lawn mowers are designed to mow up to this level. A walk behind mower is usually the best lawn mower for hills but you won’t miss a few riding mowers and ZTRs that will work well on slopes if you have a larger yard.
When selecting a lawn mower for a hilly terrain, consider one that will take care of your safety needs. Beyond this, it is vital to learn how to mow safely on slopes.
Which type of mowers are best suited for steep hills?
Before you make up your mind to acquire a new mower, you need to first check your yard’s terrain. Is it even, hilly, rugged, or loaded with obstacles? Once you have established the landscape of your lawn, you will be in a position to pick the right mower.
Pushing a mower uphill or keeping it in control downhill can be quite challenging but with the right mower you will not only do this with ease but also with less effort.
Some mower types that experts and experienced users have recommended for mowing hills include:
- Riding mowers
Riding lawn mowers have a higher risk of tipping over when mowing hills. Look for a riding mower with larger rear wheels to enhance its traction. In addition, an important tip with the ride-ons is to mow when the ground is dry as most don’t perform too well on wet slippery grass.
- Zero turn (ZTR, Z-Turn) mowers
Zero turn mowers are characterized by their ability to make a turning of zero degrees using hydraulic speed. This in essence means that this machine can be turned inside its own trajectory.
The Zero turn mowers have been found to be quite efficient on larger lawns just like other riding mowers. What makes them distinct is the fact that they have independent power on the rear wheels. The machine is powered by two handles that also acts as its brakes.
- Walk-behind mowers
Stander or walk behind mowers are the safest when it comes to mowing hills as compared to the riding mowers. Furtheron, the standers provide you with the flexibility of positioning your weight to optimize all situations on a hill self-propelled walk behinds are even better on hills as they only require you to press the navigation buttons to maneuver the mower and prevent it from going out of control.
The downside is that if you have a medium to large lawn size, walk behinds will be time and energy consuming.
Bottom line is, know your mower’s ability and always go slow and low.
What to look for in the best lawn mower for hills
A hilly terrain certainly provides a beautiful landscaping, but can be dangerous as well. For this reason it may not be easy finding the best lawn mower for hills since they are not as widely available, particularly the ride-ons. To ease your search, keep in mind the following factors when going for a mower for your hilly yard.
- Rear wheel drive – rear wheel drive provides better traction on hills compared to an all-wheel drive or a front wheel drive. The front wheel will maneuver quite well on even ground but not on sloppy terrain. Some rear wheel drivers have larger rear wheels than front wheels which is an indication of enhanced traction although not quite necessary. Traction is further enhanced by a low mower profile and treaded tires. A low profile reduces the chances of your ride-on tipping off although quite honestly you still need to take extra caution with these ones.
- Versatile – if you decide to opt for a versatile riding mower, do not go for ones with attachments. Extra loads being towed from behind tend to put more weight towards the rear and this increases the risk of flipping over.
- Sizes of the deck- you need to consider the width of the deck as it determines how easily you can maneuver a hilly terrain. For instance, mowing an open yard can be done easily with a deck between 42 and 54 inches. This on the other hand will not be ideal for a lawn with a narrow ditch or several obstacles because a wide deck is never great at maneuvering around obstacles.
- Ease of operation – some mowers are obviously complicated and will be difficult for the user to operate. Consider features like cruise control which are designed to make it easy and convenient to operate your mower.
- Weight – A heavy walk behind can be strenuous if you are mowing a large hilly terrain because these make use of more of your effort. Consider powerful engines housed within light mowers.
Our review today features 5 top mowers that are great performers on hills. While we have included 2 ride-ons for desperate moments, we prefer the self-propelled as they are the safest to operate on hills.
Best Lawn Mower for Hills Reviews
1. Troy-Bilt TB330 163cc 21-inch 3-in-1 Rear Wheel Drive Self-Propelled Lawnmower
The TB330 self-propelled lawn mower by Troy Bilt comes as a great recommendation if you are looking for something durable for your sloped yard. It features a rear wheel drive system among other features, and this one quality qualifies it for mowing the hilly terrain.
Quick -Start 163cc OHV 725ex Briggs & Stratton engine
The TB330 self-propelled RWD is also powered by a 163cc OHV 725ex Briggs & Stratton engine designed with ReadyStart technology to ease its starting process. This unit comes with a single lever drive speed control that comes with 4 preset speeds allowing the operator to select a comfortable speed.
The single level height-adjustable 21-inch cutting deck comes as a great convenience as it lets you mow your grass between 1.25 and 3.75 inches. The single lever system system is advantageous for quick height adjustments while operating the mower.
21 inches in the cutting deck is not so wide therefore if your yard has some obstacles and ditches, this may be a good option because it is easy to maneuver.
TriAction Cutting System
The deck is designed with a TriAction cutting mechanism which includes a rake bumper, a blade that is designed for finer mulch, and a symmetrical deck to deliver clean even cuts as illustrated in the video below by Troy Bilt.
Traction and Stability
This unit comes with 8-inch front and rear wheels also enhance maneuverability. But because they are also wide enough, will enhance traction and stability, which are factors you would consider when mowing up and downhill.
finally , at just 84 lbs, this unit is considered light. It is designed with mulching, rear bagging, and side discharge capabilities and also includes a wash port for easy cleaning. Its package includes a mulch kit
- This unit is solidly constructed with durable steel
- The TriAction cutting mechanism is very effective
- Only 4 speed settings with a max speed of 3 mph which to some users is on the slower side
2. Honda HRX217K5VKA 187cc Gas 21 in. 4-in-1 Versamow System Lawn Mower with Clip Director and MicroCut Blades 660250
The Honda made lawn mower is another self propelled machine with variable speed select drive which I find better than four preset speeds in the Troy Bilt TB3300 because it allows you to easily control speed as you mow. Other features that make this unit an ideal for your sloped yard include:
Rear Wheel Drive System
Rear wheel drive system is a critical feature for any lawn mower designed for hills. It enhances traction up and down hill although the major duty of controlling the machine safely is still left to you. Now the rear bagger may be something to be concerned about because as in other units it adds weight to the rear of the mower.
But because this was taken care of in the design stage and you may not lose traction as the bagger gets full, you may have to empty it from time to time to be on the safe side.
Through its Versamow system, mulching, bagging and side discharge are made quite convenient and we felt that an additional leaf shredding capability was quite in order. The System Lawn Mower’s Clip Director knob is another vital convenient feature you will need to check out. It lets you select how much grass is to be mulched and how much is to be bagged, both in one go without the need for any additional tools.
Twin Blade MicroCut System
We found the Twin Blade Microcut System in this unit to be quite innovative and important too. This dual blades are designed to deliver ultra fine cuts off your clippings which makes really good mulch.
It is equipped with four cutting surfaces integrated within the MicroCut System and does not only provide better-quality mulching ensuring that you achieve just right grass cut, but also more allows for more cutting and emptying of the bags within a short time. you only need to sharpen the blades two to four times a year to enjoy the clean laser cut on your lawn.
Allows for easy adjustment of its speed by pressing the speed dial and use the engage select drive for comfortable speed control. In addition, the durability of this Lawn Mower is evidenced by its 21 In. deck, made of NeXite, a very durable material which does not corrode or dent over time.
Other beneficial features include the fact that the machine is easy to start and fuel efficient, thanks to its powerful Honda GCV190 187cc engine with an Autochoke mechanism.
As a user, you can adjust the clip director to mow even in the most severe conditions although this is not advisable. Its deck allows for mulching both high and low grass without leaving the clumps behind.
- Excellent mulching capability thanks to the Twin Blade Microcut system
- Honda engine delivers great power even for the toughest of conditions
- 4-in-1 mulching, bagging, side discharge and leaf shredding capabilities
- No wash port meaning you have to turn over the unit to clean which can be risky
3. Husqvarna 960430211 YTA18542 18.5 hp Fast Continuously Variable Transmission Pedal Tractor Mower, 42-inch
Two features make this tractor mower suitable for hill mowing. Variable transmission and power. In addition and for safety’s sake, this unit is designed in such a way that the moment your foot slips off the pedal the unit automatically stops. This makes a bit easy to handle some situations you will find yourself in when mowing.
Briggs & Stratton 18 HP Engine
The Husqvarna Lawn is an auto drive Tractor with a powerful 18.5 hp Briggs & stratton engine with a 2.5 fuel tank capacity to deliver premium performance. This engine powers 42-inch deck with twin-blades and an automatic transmission system.
It may not be rated a high end tractor, however its compact size at 72 x 34 inches (L X W) coupled with its 15-inch Front 20-inch Rear Turf Tires makes it easy to maneuver your lawn. However you may want to use it on slopes with a 15-degree maximum incline.
The lawn mower’s fast auto transmission reduces the need for frequent maintenance as it makes use of the air induction mowing technology which improves the circulation of air within the deck to produce a professional cut with every mow.
Ease and Comfort
Operating the Husqvarna YTA18542 riding mower is easy and comfortable thanks to its great steering which eliminates the need for riding on a straight line. With a comfortable seat, easy to operate wheels and ample foot pedal space, you can actually mow for extended periods without bearing the brunt of fatigue.
42-inch Durable Deck
The 42-inch fender-mounted deck lever is spring assisted making it one of the easiest and most convenient to operate ride-ons. Furthermore, around the wheels are barriers whose function is to block mud or splashing water from messing you up when you are mowing.
Other interesting capabilities of the Husqvarna YTA18542 are that it can mow in reverse gear and has headlamps for late evening mowing.
- Fast maintenance free auto transmission
- LED headlights for enhanced visibility
- Deck wash port for safe and easy cleaning
- Constant pressure on the foot pedal otherwise a small release and the unit stops. This may strain your foot
- Not designed with anti scalp wheels making it possible to scalp your lawn if not careful
4. Snapper P2185020E Variable Speed Self Propelled Lawn Mower
The snapper P2185020E/ 7800982 self propelled lawn mower makes a great option for homeowners with a moderately sized yard with a sloped terrain. It comes with a powerful 190cc Briggs & Stratton 850 professional series engine and other great features making it a worthwhile consideration.
Briggs & Stratton 850 professional Series engine
This powerful 850 pro series engine is designed with a ReadyStart system eliminating the need for priming or choking. This system uses an electric key to start which is considered the best for mowers since you simply start and go.
This engine uses OHV technology integrated with a cooler and a cleaner to produce greater power directly to the wheels and other operating parts of this walk behind, longer engine life as well as utilize fuel economically. They are ideal for yards up to 1500 square meters.
The Snapper P2185020E / 7800982 is designed with a disc-drive, rear wheel drive system which offers improved traction while the smooth-turn differential enhances maneuverability. Rear drive systems control rear wheels independently, main reason it is possible to achieve maneuverability with this unit.
When the disc shifts, it will control speed by slowing down or speeding up the unit without a hassle. To prevent your grass from damaging, the 10-inch rear wheels are fitted with ball bearings.
21-Inch HI-VAC Steel Mowing Deck
The 21-inch durable steel mowing deck designed with a high-lift blade and a rolled deck edge that produces air to create a suction just the same way a vacuum cleaner operates, is efficient at cutting and sucking up grass clippings to give your lawn a clean finish.
The deck is designed with 7 preset cutting heights between 1.25 inches and 4 inches which, in our opinion, will deliver precise cuts. It has all three capabilites; side discharge, bagging, and mulching. Its package includes a roomy 2.5 Bushel Rear Door Grass Bag for collecting grass clippings.
Other convenient features include a user friendly control panel, a foam padded grip on the adjustable handle with a 3-inch range, as well as a cup holder.
- 190cc Briggs & Stratton Engine works well with long 8 – 10 inch grass
- 10-inch rear wheels enhance traction
- Great bagging capability thanks to the HI-VAC feature
- This is perhaps the first unit that we felt didn’t have much in terms of cons. However, its assembly is pretty detailed and will take you some time especially if your are a first time user.
5. Troy-Bilt 382cc Powermore OHV 30-Inch Premium Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower
The neighbourhood mower has been lauded in many fronts for its great maneuverability and its compact size and rightfully so. It comes with a 382 cc Powermore OHV engine and a 30-inch deck and will make a great option for residential use. However, just as it is with other ride-ons, you may want to use it only on a maximum of 15 degrees incline.
382 cc Powermore Auto Choke OHV engine
The 382 cc Powermore AutoChoke engine with a quick start is a remarkable feature as it does away with priming and choking. It is solidly constructed and comes with a 1.3-gallon fuel tank which in our opinion is a good enough capacity for the homeowner. The tank has a sight window to help you check your gas level at a glance.
This powerful engine propels the unit forward to a maximum speed of 4.25 mph and still comes with 6-speed settings that you can select from for a comfortable ride.
30-inch Cutting Deck
This unit’s 30-inch cutting deck features 5 preset cutting heights which you can choose from. Along with a manual power take-off, perhaps the best for an easy blade engagement, a feature that most users will be keen on.
With an impressive turning radius of 18-inches, it is certainly better at maneuvering compared to the larger units with a bigger turning circle. The 13-inch front wheels and 16-inch rear wheels are definitely great if you are considering traction while mowing your gentle slope.
If your yard is standard size with an even terrain or a gentle slope then this mower comes as a great recommendation.
- 30-inch deck is not as wide and offers the advantage of great maneuverability
- Manual power take off make it simple to operate the blades
- 18-inch turning radius is good enough to manoeuvre the unit in tight spaces and around obstacles
- Works well only on gentle slopes, not steep
- Shorter people found the seat a bit high and uncomfortable for them
We have only reviewed top units with remarkable abilities mowing on hills although with varying degrees. Of these mowers, Snapper P2185020E / 7800982 self propelled lawn mower came out top with many great user reviews thanks to its innovative convenience features.
The 850 Briggs & stratton Pro Series engine, HI-VAC Steel Mowing Deck, along with a rear wheel drive system, certainly sets it ahead of the pack. Again, it is one of the few lawn mowers for hills that you may look for cons in and never really find.
Mowing hills can be a risky affair however, by exercising safety precautions, you will get ahead quite well. A self-propelled walk behind is obviously the best lawn mower for hills but we included to ride-ons for the extreme must-use cases.
An important tip is to mow from side to side if you are using a walk-behind or up and down in a single direction if using a ride-on. All the same, it is important to note that a flip on a ride-on can cause a serious accident therefore it is always prudent to keep to the mowing precautions.