Why Are Zero Turns Bad on Hills? (Solved & Explained!)

Zero turn mowers are bad on hills for two main reasons. First off, Zero turn mowers have casters on the front wheels. This makes for great navigation in flat areas, but you can lose control easily on a steep incline. Secondly, rear brakes can cause sliding if they are engaged too quickly, especially if it is wet out.

For this article we’ll answer common questions about inclines and different mower types so that you’ll know what mower is best suited for your home terrain. Let’s take a look at the questions that everyone is asking!

Are Zero Turn Mowers safe on hills?

Zero turn mowers don’t really work their best on hills and can be dangerous when the grass is wet. The wheels of a Zero turn mower employ casters, which are amazing for navigating a flat surface, but when it comes to hills, especially slick ones, the tires simply cannot get proper friction and it’s possible to lose control of your mower.

While this is not true for all makes and models, it will apply to many of them, so be sure to check with your manufacturer if you want to use your Zero turn mower on hills.

Is the Toro Timecutter good on hills?

The Toro Timecutter reputedly handles quite well on hills, which is uncommon with Zero turn mowers. It has a 24.5 horsepower engine, along with a heavy-duty transmission, which helps to make inclines less of a challenge than with standard Zero turn mowers. That said, it is rated for inclines of 15 degrees, no more, so if you have steeper inclines you will want to keep this in mind.

What do I do if my hill is steep to mow?

Riding mowers are best for hills if they are at a 15-degree incline at most. The same is true for Zero turn mowers, although a standard rider with rear wheel drive will handle a hill better than most Zero turn models. A push mower can handle up to a 20-degree angle, but anything beyond this may be dangerous and you should consider contacting a professional.  

Are zero turns good on slopes?

No. Riding mowers, lawn tractors, and Zero turns are absolutely wonderful on flatter terrain, but when slopes and hills are part of the equation then they will perform poorly or in some cases, will be unsuitable for mowing. As a general rule, if it’s more than a 15 degree (10 with some models) incline, you will need to look for other options.

How steep is too steep for a riding mower?

The easiest way to remember the best-practices for steep inclines is the 20-15-10 rule. A push mower can handle an incline up to 20 degrees, while a riding mower is manageable at 15 degrees, and most Zero turn mowers work best on up to 10-degree inclines.

Which lawn mower is best for hills?

Oddly enough, your trusty push mower is going to handle hills the best. As it’s much lighter, it’s easier to navigate steeper slopes than a heavy riding mower or a caster-style wheeled Zero turn mower.

With steeper inclines, you might even be able to get away with lugging it up and meticulously doing strips, just make sure your push mower only leans carb-side up, or you could end up getting oil in your air filter.

How do you mow a steep hill with a tractor?

The best thing that you can do is to take things very slowly. Any speed on a steep hill can be dangerous and your tractor is very heavy – you want to move slowly so that you don’t have to shift your gears at all while navigating the slope and if the incline is too steep, consider a push mower.

Also, consider mowing another time if the grass is wet. Hills are much more dangerous to mow and wet grass is bad for your mower blades as well. Wait until it’s dry and mow as slowly as possible.

Why is my zero-turn tearing up grass?

Sometimes the turf can end up tearing if a wheel is locking. If you believe this to be the case, try keeping your speed lower when you turn, with one stick in reverse and one in forward. It takes a small amount of extra time to do this, but this can help if it’s a problem with a locking wheel.

Can zero-turn mowers tow?

While you might be able to do it with no issues, that won’t last. Zero turn mowers are designed for mowing only and if you start towing things, then this is going to put undue stress on the transmission and eventually this can lead to costly repairs. Stick to mowing instead and you should be fine – These mowers are simply not intended to tow.

Are walk behind mowers good for steep hills?

 Walk behind mowers are actually the best option for steep hills, provided that they are not over 20 degrees on the incline. Riding mowers get close, working at 15 degrees, and Zero turns are okay with 10 but don’t do so well at steeper inclines.

If you have to mow something steep, a walk behind mower is definitely your best choice.

Are hover mowers good for hills?

Hover mowers are a good fit when it comes to small banks. Here, they have superior maneuverability and you can simply sweep them from side to side to cover an appreciable area. Hills, however, are a different beast altogether. A walk behind/push mower is going to be much better for hills, as hover mowers are simply not designed with hills or slopes in mind.

Are SCAG mowers good on hills?

SCAG mowers are pretty durable, designed for all kinds of weather, and their Hydro drive does make them an excellent candidate for hills. That said, a push mower still may be your best bet. It’s all about weight, traction, and the recommend incline for mowing – lighter push mowers are simply easier to use on hills, hands-down.