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Are Zero Turn Mowers Good On Hills? What Are They?

yellow zero turn mower parked

Zero turn lawn mowers are a type of lawn mower that work with a zero-inch turning radius. This feature allows the mowers to be precise and effective while mowing your entire lawn faster than a regular mower. Zero turn lawn mowers are excellent for garden lovers and people that put a lot of effort into maintaining a perfect landscape, because they can cut precisely around obstacles such as other plants, vegetables, trees, and garden decor.

While zero turn mowers are excellent on flat terrains, they can also do remarkable job mowing slopes, especially at a 15-degree angle. That is the slope’s maximum and optimal angle on which a zero turn mower can work effectively and safely.

The article below will cover all the basics about zero turn lawn mowers, what makes them so great and practical, and how to use them on hills properly.

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What are Zero Turn Mowers?

A zero turn mower is similar to a regular riding lawn mower but with a turning radius of zero inches. To explain how a zero turn mower works, you can imagine a tank turning in place. A zero turn lawn mower has a mowing deck in the front of the machine, which is the main aspect that makes it different from a traditional standard lawn mower. The best feature a zero-turn lawn mower has is that it can function as a stand-on mower, walk-behind mower, or riding mower.

red zero turn mower parked on the garden
Image Credit: mwesselsphotography, Shutterstock

What Are Zero Turn Mowers Good For?

Zero turn lawn mowers are best for precisely mowing around obstacles. With this precision, there is no need to use a trimmer for the final finish. If you enjoy putting effort into a perfect lawn, then a zero-lawn mower is an ideal choice. The blades on a zero lawn mower are closer to the ground than on a regular riding mower, making the cut cleaner, shorter, and more precise.

When mowing on a hill, zero turn lawn mowers may not be the best solution, although they can do a decent job mowing on a slope or a smaller hill. A 15° angle is the optimum incline that a mower can work on. Since the blades cut so close to the ground, this mower tends to tear up the grass when mowing on a higher hill.

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How to Properly Use a Zero Turn Mower on a Hill

Even though a lawn mower is not the ideal solution for a hill, there are ways you can use this mower properly. You should follow some basics to get the best result when using a zero turn lawn mower on a hill.

Make sure to steer it accurately

Learning to steer the lawn mower correctly is essential to prevent rolling over on a steep hill. The mower relies on its rear wheels for steering, which means that turning requires coordination with the steering lever system. If, for example, you want to turn your lawn mower left, you would need to coordinate the lever in the opposite direction to achieve that.

Drive slowly

Even though the best part of owning a zero turn lawn mower is how fast it can work, it is always advisable to drive a lawn mower slowly when you are riding on a hill or slope. When maneuvering up or down the hill, it would be ideal to maintain a constant speed of 4 or 5 miles per hour.

old man driving a zero turn mower on high grass
Image Credit: Steve Heap, Shutterstock

Avoid all obstacles

Another thing that makes zero turn lawn movers so valuable is their ability to avoid obstacles easily. Since the design of these lawn movers is so precise, it allows them to mow near objects without nicking them. This is great when you have lawn decor you want to keep intact.

Make careful turns

When you find yourself on a steep slope or a hill, make sure to maneuver the zero-turn lawn mower with caution. Avoid making any sudden turns to minimize the risk of rolling over. Especially when mowing on a hill, it is crucial to make gentle and gradual turns. Because zero turn lawn mowers are so easy to maneuver, you will most likely be tempted to make a sudden turn so you don’t miss an inch of grass, especially since it’s so easy to do so on flat terrain. Still, when mowing on a hill, making sudden turns can be very dangerous and cause you to tip over with your lawn mower.

Use the mower in dry conditions

Mowing the lawn in dry conditions is strongly recommended, not only on hills but also on flat terrain. Mowing wet grass can make the entire process more tiresome, as cleaning the wet, clumped clippings will take forever. Also, using a zero turn lawn mower is hazardous when the grass is wet. It can lead to poor traction, and poor traction is not an ideal scenario when riding a lawn mower up a hill.

man cutting grass using zero turn mower
Image Credit: Steve Heap, Shutterstock

Tips on Using Zero Turn Mowers on Hills

Even after all this helpful advice on how to drive a zero turn lawn mower safely and adequately up a hill, we have some additional tips that we recommend everyone follows.

  • Always use well-maintained tires
  • Choose wider tires for more control
  • Mow side to side instead of up and down the hill
  • Keep the front end always uphill to make sure you don’t skid or lose traction
  • Begin mowing at the bottom of the hill
  • Always use a mower’s seat belt and a protective roll bar system

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Final Thoughts

After reading this article, we hope to give you an answer to whether you can use your zero turn lawn mower on hills. While it is a great solution, you must be careful of how steep the hill is. Working on hills with a zero turn mower requires skill, patience, and a steady hand. Working from side to side is best, with the mower facing upwards. You must keep in mind many different elements and stay safe while working uphill to avoid rolling over or skidding.


Featured Image Credit: Richard Smart, Shutterstock

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