A push mower is rarely up to the task of trimming on any kind of incline, requiring a lot of sweat and effort to get them where you need them. The best garden tractor for hills needs to have a powerful enough engine to maintain traction on a slope, be stable and well-weighted so that it won’t tip over, and have suitable safety features for the job.
The Husqvarna-345XD and the John Deere Z535E are both good options for mowing on a gradient, but the Kut Kwick Slopemaster is the best mower for handling particularly steep gradients.
This article will go into detail about how to make the right choice when you are thinking about using a ride-on mower for hilly terrain, what makes a garden tractor safe and effective at cutting grass on a slope, and which machines are the best for the job right now.
Why is a Garden Tractor Suited for Hills?
In order to tackle slopes without losing speed and traction, you need a mower with a powerful engine and decent tires. Push mowers are cumbersome to manage on a hill, and smaller ride-on options have weaker engines and less stability, whereas garden tractors are more powerful and have larger wheels for traversing inclines more readily.
How Do I Mow Safely on a Slope?
You always want to consider how you are going to stay safe while operating your mower on a hill, and the most important rule is that you should never be mowing along the slope, but up and down it instead. Sharp turns shouldn’t be carried out on a slope and you also want a mower that can maintain good weight distribution and keep you upright in the seat.
What Features Are Essential for Mowing on a Hill?
Any lawnmower is going to be more dangerous to operate on a gradient than on flat ground, but garden tractors are more likely to have the features that you need. You should not be mowing on a hillside without roll-over protection, a seat belt or a ground-engaging transmission, and no matter what machine you use, you should always mow up and down hills instead of across them.
What Sort of Cutting Deck Should a Garden Tractor Have for Mowing Hills?
Ideally, you want a cutting deck that is visible without having to turn around while you are on a slope, as this will make the process safer and more comfortable for you as a driver. The width of the cutting deck will depend on the size of the hill that you are wanting to mow, but a deck of 54 inches will mean fewer runs and often more stability.
How Big of an Engine Should a Garden Tractor Have on a Hill?
The larger the engine of your garden tractor, the easier it will be to ride it uphill, and if there are more cylinders in the engine then each one will be put under less strain while on the job. You will want an engine that puts out 11HP or more to maintain forward momentum on a gradient, and for steeper slopes, you may want as much as 25HP.
Are Shut-Off Features Safer for Hill Mowing?
Besides the size and power of the engine, the safety features of different engines are important to keep you out of danger when you are cutting at an incline. A mower that shuts off the engine when you are not in the seat will offer more protection in case you were to fall out or roll, either using an attached lanyard or automatic weight detection in the seat.
Will Hill Gradient Affect the Type of Mower I Need?
For shallower gradients, you may not need a garden tractor, but on a steeper slope, tractor mowers are going to be safer and more reliable. In terms of degrees, any hill that is as steep as 15° will be much safer on a garden tractor, and if you are mowing slopes of up to 40° you will want one that is specifically designed for steep gradients.
Is a Garden Tractor the Right Option for My Hills?
Another factor to consider when mowing on a hill, besides the gradient of the slope, is the size of the space, as garden tractors take up a lot of room in your garage. You may look at electric-powered options, push mowers, or even robotic lawnmowers with good hill performance if your hills are small and not too steep.
Which Husqvarna Tractor is Best for Hills?
The Husqvarna-345XD is a reliable option for mowing on a hill, with a 24HP engine it is easily powerful enough to tackle gradients of 15° or more, and it has electronic differential locking to handle slopes and slippery surfaces. It has a 54-inch deck and is easy to steer and sturdily built, with a low centre of gravity so there is very little risk of overturning.
Which John Deere Garden Tractor is Safe for Slopes?
The John Deere Z535E also has a 24HP engine and a 54-inch cutting deck, but with a triple-blade that makes it easy to cut taller grass at higher speeds. While it is designed for comfort on flat terrain, it has a two-spring suspension seat that makes it particularly comfortable when operating on a slope, and it comes with foldable roll-over protection.
Which Garden Tractor is the Best for Steep Slopes?
The Kut Kwick Slopemaster is a fantastic option for particularly steep gradients, as it was specifically designed for mowing on slopes of up to 40°. It has great weight distribution, a very tight turning circle, and ergonomic seating and controls to keep you upright, but it is significantly more expensive than other options at around $64,999.
Is a Zero-Turn Mower Better Than a Garden Tractor for Mowing Hills?
Some of the more powerful zero-turn mowers, like the Husqvarna MZ61 or the Cub Cadet Ultima ZTX4 can also make for good options when mowing on a slope. These options can be used on hills; however it is not safe to actually carry out a zero-turn while the mower is at a gradient, you will need to turn on the flat at the top or bottom of the hill.
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.