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Can You Use Zero Turn Mowers Properly on Hills?

There’s no denying that zero turn mowers are becoming more and more popular as proper lawn care becomes increasingly mainstream and easily accessible. Zero turn mowers are renowned for their effortless cutting times and awe-inspiring levels of power. They’re fast, furious, and easily help you get the job done.

Zero turn lawn mowers are almost certainly going to be the future for most people when it comes to lawn care and maintenance, and for most people, this will be okay. The only problems start to appear when your home landscape is a little different from most people – one being when you’re dealing with hills.

If you’re stuck in the predicament of owning a zero turn mower, make sure you can accurately and properly look after your land and lawn without breaking anything. This is the guide that details everything you need to know.

So, Why are Hills a Problem for Zero Turn Mowers?

Lawn mower park by the house, zero turn Lawn mower.

Take a moment to think about how zero turn mowers are designed. At the front of the mower, you’ll find a caster wheel that helps the mower move incredibly quickly. It can turn at very sharp angles while minimizing the loss in speed. While this has revolutionized grass cutting, it has been at the sacrifice of stability.

You only need to look at a zero turn mower to see why this is the case. Small hills and low gradients won’t cause much of an issue. But if you’re traveling down a steep slope at high speeds, one little move and you and your mower could end up tumbling down after one another.

Are Any Hills Suitable for Zero Turn Mowers?

Panoramic mountain views, green hills and meadows. Morning light

When you think about it, sure, there will be slight hills that the caster wheels of your zero turn mower will easily handle. But then, if you sent one down an incredibly steep slope, you’re probably going to have some problems. So, where’s the middle ground?

Well, as a rule of thumb, if you’re dealing with slopes under the 10 to 15 degrees area, you and your zero turn mower are going to be fine. You won’t have to switch over to another mower, and you’ll be able to carry on like normal. Well, slightly normal. There are some slight precautionary measures you’re going to want to think about, such as taking it much slower and much easier.

First, if you’re over the 15-degree mark, you’re probably going to want to think about getting another mower. Even if you feel like you’re a master at driving a mower like this, you’re going to be setting yourself up for disaster.

The Precautions of Mowing 15-Degree Hills

Young lady on mower in open yard

Of course, the speed of zero turn mowers is one of the highlight features. But, let’s be real, traveling 15 miles per hour down a 12-degree hill is not going to be safe in any sense of the word, so you need to use common sense and judge each hill accordingly.

When you’re traveling at high speeds, the mower will have far less traction than usual. With the caster wheel design at the front, you can fly off at any angle if you were to hit something or accidentally turn sharply. At these speeds, even a little knock of the steering wheel can make a big difference directionally.

Instead, you’re going to want to go slower. Around 4 or 5 miles per hour should do the trick. By keeping your zero turn mower slow and steady, you’ll maximize the amount of traction you’ll have. You’ll be much more stable and less likely to damage yourself or the mower or lose control unnecessarily. You don’t want to tip anything over.

Secondly, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t making any drastic turns while you’re traveling up or down the hill. This is due to all the stability reasons we’ve already spoken about. Make sure you’re traveling off the hill and onto flat ground before you make a turn. Then carry on with what you have to do.

Of course, this means you’re going to have to plan your route in some gardens or on some land, so you can save fuel and stay as safe as possible.

What Happens If You Have Rough Terrain?

Green hills slope

In addition to hills, you may find yourself dealing with rough terrain. This refers to land, including hills and slopes, but maybe also lots of bumps and dips – basically, a very uneven surface. In these conditions, zero turn mowers are also ill-advised.

If you need to mow this ground and have no other alternative mowers to hand, then make sure you, again, go slow and steady. Make fair judgments accordingly. Start by going 4 to 5 miles per hour first, and if you feel like you can safely go faster, increase your speed slowly.

Consider Weather Conditions

Senior retired male cutting the grass on expansive lawn using yellow zero-turn mower

Finally, a common issue that many people overlook is the weather conditions of wherever you’re cutting the grass. Sure, you may have mowed that 11-degree hill countless times in the sun on a lovely afternoon, but what happens when it’s rained the night before, and now, you have to cut it?

When the ground is wet and potentially slippery, this can lead to much less traction. It will make the mowing experience far more dangerous, especially on steeper hills. If this is the case, make sure you’re judging the conditions. Perhaps hold off the mowing until a nicer, drier day. The same rules apply for snowy and icy conditions.

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