6 Best Zero-Turn Mowers for Hills and Steep Slopes
Jun 19, 2023
Hills and steep slopes provide extraordinary obstacles while mowing the grass. The top zero-turn mower for hills needs a machine with a strong engine, a durable gearbox, and many traction-delivering wheels.
When evaluating several zero-turn mowers, I looked for features like these. I tested several commercial and residential models to find the finest ride-on mower for those navigating rugged terrains.
Most effective zero-turn mower for hills
The Ariens Ikon XD below is the spot to start searching if you're in a hurry. This mower is made to endure and can easily tackle slopes and hills up to 15 degrees.
How to Select a Zero-Turn Mower for Hilly Ground
A zero-turn mower is expensive, so there are a few characteristics to consider before choosing one that suits your requirements and budget. It's important to note that a zero-turn mower handles terrain significantly differently than riding mowers and lawn tractors, which are more common machines. Smaller wheels, a higher ground speed, and evident zero-turn capabilities are all standard features of zero-turn mowers. Check our ideal Riding Lawn Mowers For Hills And Slopes if you need clear which mower is suitable.
Here are some of the most crucial features to consider while using a zero-turn mower on steep terrain.
Safety Roll Bar
When cutting grass in an uphill area, one concern is that the high terrain can lead your mower to tip over.
I advise selecting a zero-turn mower with a safety roll bar, sometimes called a rollover protection structure (RPOS), which will shield you from being crushed if the mower tips backward.
Zero-Turn Tires for Hills
Lawn tractors have a cutting deck below the operator, and zero-turn mowers have one in front of the operator. With this style, you can quickly move and fit into small locations.
You can cut lawns more quickly due to improved mobility, but you must ensure the tires can handle hills and slopes.
Smaller casters are occasionally used on zero-turn mowers to improve speed and maneuverability. However, you'll have better stability and traction with more oversized casters. Additionally, search for more extensive, forward-moving rear wheels with deep grooves.
Controls & Comfort
If you want to use the mower for extended periods, choosing one that is simple and pleasant is crucial.
Seat Belt & Seat
A high-back seat with plenty of padding is a must. Using a zero-turn mower might become exhausting. A comfortable seat helps ease weariness and guard against problems like back discomfort.
Reducing weariness is crucial because you must be awake and aware of your surroundings while driving a mower.
There should be a lap bar or seat belt. If the mower tips over, this function ensures you stay seated. Over 36,000 incidents involving ride-on lawnmowers occur each year, so a seatbelt is a feature you should pay attention to.
Good Steering Controls
To perform zero turns and maneuver the mower into confined locations as required, a good zero-turn mower should have accurate and quick steering.
Using a zero-turn mower may take some getting used to, but choosing one with natural settings will go much quicker.
Belted transmissions ultimately break down because the moving components start to wear out. All zero-turn mowers in the higher price ranges employ a hydrostatic transmission, as seen looking them.
Fluids and pumps are used in hydrostatic transmissions, which provide seamless gear changes. Comfort is increased because there are fewer moving components, and the gearbox is smoother. Additionally, uniform cuts for your grass result from seamless gear changes.
Engine & Power
The horsepower rating, engine displacement, and other specifications of a ride-on mower may give you a general indication of the kind of performance it will provide.
While the engine displacement rating will let you know how much gasoline the motor may burn, the horsepower rating shows how much power the engine can produce.
You should also consider the mower's maximum speed in both forward and reverse directions. It should be noted that although engine horsepower may be considerable, a hefty frame may restrict the mower's top speed.
You can get an indication of the mower's power by looking at its maximum speed, but drive gently since you'll get a more accurate cut.
Fuel Capacity and Run Time
An essential factor is the gasoline tank's capacity. Is it big enough to cut a whole yard without stopping for a refill?
Using Zero Turn Mowers to Mow Slopes
When mowing slopes, there are a few things to bear in mind. Instead of using the brakes to manage your speed, use the gearbox.
In particular, if you are unfamiliar with the terrain, it is essential to go slowly. Driving parallel to hills is riskier than mowing up and down them. Additionally, keep an eye out for holes and lumps.
How to Get a Clean Cut
You may get a clean, even cut by moving slowly. A well-kept blade will also help. After each usage, you should check the edge and remove any leftover debris.
You must also adjust the deck height to trim the grass blades to the proper length.
The majority of your mower is made up of the cutting deck. The blades are located there. Zero-turn mowers often use heavy metal decks to reduce their center of gravity and provide you the stability you need to mow slopes.
You should consider the cutting deck's size, the number of blades it can hold, and the location of the discharge.
Fabricated vs. Stamped Deck
The cutting deck may have been constructed differently. Some producers form a stamped patio out of a single piece of steel.
There are other mowers available with constructed decks. Multiple steel sections are welded together to create these decks.
A manufactured deck might employ heavier steel plates ideal for commercial and heavy-duty usage, while stamped patios often use lighter steel.
Deck Height & Width
Your mower's mobility may suffer if its deck is enormous. The vast area it will help cover will allow you to mow the grass more quickly. Finding the ideal balance between coverage and mobility is critical.
The decks of zero-turn mowers may be adjusted. You must raise the deck and vice versa when traveling uphill or downhill. Make sure the mower you choose has an easily adjustable deck height setting. Additional height parameters will enable you to get a more accurate result.
Reviews of the Top Zero Turn Mowers for Hills and Slopes
These five selections distinguished out as the top zero-turn mowers for slopes among the models I examined. They are all built to the manufacturer's specs to function on slopes or in steep terrain. However, remember that this kind of mower is not intended to be used on grades over 15 degrees.
My selection criteria are primarily based on my experience using these mowers in various settings, including flat and hilly terrain. Their mobility heavily influences my decision-making, building quality, and dependability. Of course, they are all made to manage rugged terrain. So let's evaluate the top zero-turn mower for slopes right now.
1. Ariens Ikon XD 52 in. Gas Zero Turn Mower
Most effective zero-turn mower for hills
- Features 20-inch tires in the back and 11-inch tires up front for handling slopes and difficult terrain
- 11-gauge solid tubular steel frame that supports a 52-inch manufactured cutting deck
- It has a stellar Kawasaki 726cc engine with 23 horsepower.
- None of this cost
The 52-inch Ariens Ikon XD zero-turn mower is packed with features and provides outstanding value for money for residential consumers. The particular Kawasaki 726cc engine that this mower is built around gives it plenty of horsepowers to control hills and slopes, but it is also made to be dependable.
The 52-inch manufactured deck on the 11-gauge tubular steel frame is of the highest quality and includes casters. 13 height options between 1.2" and -4.5" are available for the deck to be adjusted. With front and rear tires of 11 inches and 20 inches, respectively, the Ikon XD offers exceptional grip over rough terrain, even when it rains.
With a high back seat and armrests, cutting may be done for a whole day without feeling uncomfortable or worn out. It's delightful to ride on this lawn mower. At seven mph flat speed, it's not the quickest vehicle, but it is very comfortable and made to withstand hills and rugged terrain.
The Ariens Ikon HD is the most excellent zero-turn mower for hills and rough terrain, and I wouldn't recommend it.
2. Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50 in. Gas Zero Turn Mower
- The motor works well and is dependable.
- The hydrostatic gearbox offers a comfortable ride and needs minimal maintenance.
- The mower's wheels provide the grip you need to cross uneven terrain.
- The cuts are smooth and clean from the blades.
- The gasoline tank on comparable mowers is bigger.
- There is no safety roll bar on this lawn mower.
It is a gas-powered lawnmower that emits emissions that do not meet CARB regulations in California.
Initial impressions are essential. When I initially used the Cub Cadet Ultimate ZT1, I had an extraordinarily great experience.
I immediately saw that the maker of this effective mower gave the design and manufacturing a lot of care. I discovered that my first impression was accurate when I learned more about its many aspects. A zero-turn mower with many features that will simplify your life is the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1.
Start by talking about the engine. Kawasaki's twin-cylinder 23-horsepower engine is a powerful piece of equipment. With a 726cc engine, you can drive the mower forward at 7.5 mph and backward at 3.5 mph.
Due to the twin hydrostatic rear-wheel gearbox, adjusting the speed is simple. This mower feels smoother and requires less maintenance thanks to its hydrostatic transmission.
Another element that I loved straight away was the frame made of tubular steel. The 2" tubes have a solid feel and a corrosion-resistant coating. The mower has a high, cozy seat with a pleasant back that seems ergonomic. The heart and thick rubber mat were superb at absorbing shocks and bumps.
Also noteworthy are the three blades. They are premium blades that have anti-corrosion technology to keep them safe. This Cub Cadet mower yields fine clippings and consistent results. The solid edges and handy pedal and kob control to change it from 1 to 4.5 on the high lift deck were features I appreciated.
Riding this mower around was a delight, thanks to the sturdy rear wheels, which provide excellent grip and stability even on rough ground. The front wheels are easy to swivel and have a smooth tread that prevents them from damaging the environment.
I envision using this mower in the long run. The high-quality motor and hydrostatic transmission will drastically reduce the need for maintenance. Nevertheless, the mower features an open frame design that makes it simple to access its many parts.
The frills and attention to detail were especially appreciated. The LED headlights, the casters that hold the blade in place, the electronic start, and the three-way lap bar are just a few valuable elements.
Although it's difficult to ignore the ZT1, the Ariens outshines it in terms of feel and control. Here at Home Depot online, you can get the most current pricing on the Cub Cadet ZT1.
3. DeWalt Z148 48 in. Gas Zero Turn Lawn Mower
- It is a dependable mower appropriate for use in a business setting.
- DeWalt provides extra services and a great warranty to minimize downtime.
- Wide wheels and the hydrostatic gearbox provide for a comfortable ride.
- The 5.5-gallon gasoline tank increases the mower's range.
- It's a large mower that weighs more than 1,000 lbs.
- The width of the deck is comparable to that of standard residential versions.
I was giddy with anticipation as I awaited the arrival of this DeWalt industrial mower. Would it perform better than lawnmowers made for homes?
The DeWalt Z148 mower is more significant and bulkier than alternatives for homes. The engine, though, is comparable to that of the Cub Cadet lawnmower I previously examined.
But don't be fooled by this little point. This DeWalt mower's 5.5-gallon gasoline tank, which allows you to cover up to 10 acres of ground, makes it perfect for professionals.
Because DeWalt stands behind its goods, it is the most excellent zero-turn mower for hills for professional landscapers. Pro Support Hub, a service that enables you to locate replacement components or troubleshooting information, will be available. DeWalt provides a comprehensive four-year warranty on this function, which has the potential to save downtime.
The electric start function and the mower's automated blade engagement made starting the machine simple. With the dial-in controls, I could quickly change the deck's height.
While testing the mower, comfort was the first thing I noticed. The seat is comparable to what you may find in a car. The large foot pan and ample padding both contribute to comfort. A zero-turn mower may considerably lessen tiredness for those who maintain lawns for extended periods.
The wheels felt quite maneuverable and were appropriate for a zero-turn mower, which is why I loved them. To aid in getting a clean cut, the front wheels feature a tiny offset. When mowing in reverse, they maintain their alignment. The hydrostatic transmission also contributed to the smooth operation of the mower. With the safety roll bar, I felt more at ease going uphill.
10-gauge steel is used in the 48" deck's construction. Although it adds weight to the mower, it is a sturdy component that may be used in professional settings. This DeWalt ride-on mower is incredibly adaptable and perfect for hills and slopes, thanks to its 17 various deck height configurations. Check out Home Depot's current DeWalt Z148 pricing.
4. Cub Cadet 48 in. Zero Turn Mower, Hilly Wheel Control
- Comparable to the other mowers I examined, it is smaller and lighter.
- The brake and throttle pedals feel natural.
- I adored how comfortable the hydrostatic transmission felt.
- The seat has armrests and is comfy.
- The deck has only eight cutting locations, ranging from 1 to 4 inches.
- Due to the mower's dearth of a seat belt, knee bar, and roll bar, additional safety features must be added.
- When compared to other versions, the fuel tank is more minor.
This Cub Cadet mower resembles a scaled-down version of the other item I tried from this brand. The V-twin motor is comparable. However, the deck is slightly smaller at 48" instead of 50". Up to 7 mph is reached using the mower's rear-wheel drive.
Three blades are also included with the mower. The deck height may be easily adjusted from 1 to 4" using a straightforward mechanism, and cutting is quick and clean. Thanks to the wide tires ' power and steadiness, I could mow the grass quickly and precisely.
The armrests were the things I immediately noticed as being different. I wished more zero-turn mowers had this function since it gave the seat a more supportive and pleasant feeling.
I like this mower's easy controls and pleasant feel. When going up and down hills, the rear-wheel dual hydrostatic transmission feels relatively smooth, making executing my zero turns easy.
Operating this mower with gas and brake pedals like those of a vehicle is quite simple. Additionally, it has a function called Synchro Steer that lets you simultaneously steer the front and back wheels. Because it's so simple, this device could be the most excellent zero-turn mower for hills for beginners.
Anyone with trouble using lever-controlled mowers would benefit significantly from a great mower with basic steering wheel controls. Visit Home Depot for the most recent Cub Cadet mower pricing.
5. Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42 in Gas Zero Turn Mower
- Compared to other models, this zero-turn mower is smaller and less expensive.
- For confined locations, the 42" cutting width is practical.
- Excellent ventilation is made possible by the deck.
- You have perfect control thanks to the wheels and steering mechanism.
- Other mowers have more safety measures, but this one doesn't.
- The high control bars may make you feel worn out.
For yards up to two acres, the smaller ZT1 mower works well. Accessing those challenging areas with the 42" cutting width is easy.
Because of the excellent airflow provided by the design, I appreciated the mower's deck. It's a feature that will save you from clogging up when mowing thick grass.
The robust structure of this mower makes it a great purchase. I felt secure with the tubular steel structure. I was delighted with the front casters since they provide you with reasonable control over how your front wheels are oriented no matter what the terrain throws at you.
To safeguard you if the mower tips backward, the mower has several safety bars behind the operator seat. These bars are lower than those in other RPOS systems, however.
The seat is quite cozy. It is a rigid polymer seat with an integrated suspension. The mower's controls were relatively simple to operate, which is another reason why I loved them. To go forward or backward, you push and pull two levers. The most significant disadvantage of these controls is that, after some time, the position of your arms may get tiresome.
This lawnmower has a powerful Kohler engine, a fluid hydrostatic transmission, and large 20" rear wheels for excellent grip. My favorite choice was the larger brother, but this 42-inch model is just as good—it's just smaller, which means mowing takes longer. Check out Home Depot's pricing on the Cub Cadet 48′′ ZT1.
6. Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 27 HP B&S Eng. Zero Turn Mower
- The mower's 27-hp motor is strong.
- You can cover a lot of land with the 61" cutting width.
- One of the most comfy seats I tried was this one.
- It has a collecting system built in.
- There is no safety roll bar on the mower.
It employs handles as controls, which might eventually lead to arm fatigue.
The equipment I tried that was the most comfortable was this heavy-duty mower. The maker did a terrific job utilizing rubber matting and other components to decrease vibrations, and I enjoyed how the vinyl seat felt in my hands.
The Husqvarna MZ61 offers more than just a smooth ride. It is a powerful zero-turn mower perfect for stadiums and other big spaces because of its outstanding 61" cutting width. But the solid rear-wheel drive can manage hills and slopes as well.
Compared to the other mowers I tried, this one has a more powerful 27-hp Briggs & Stratton engine. The electric start option makes it simple, and I like how the engine maintained a consistent pace.
The deck is made of durable 11-gauge steel. The hefty deck gives the mower a sturdy feeling. There are 12 options available for altering the deck height.
The mower has a collecting system built in. It's important to note that although this attachment is compatible with the other mowers I evaluated, you must buy it separately. Check Amazon for prices on Husqvarna MZ61 models.
Hill Driving with Zero Turn Mowers
When operating a zero-turn mower up a hill, remember a few safety precautions.
Taking It Slow
The gearbox of the finest zero-turn mower for hills should enable precise speed control.
The mower will cut more evenly if you keep it moving at a modest pace, and you'll have plenty of time to respond if you encounter an impediment and sense the mower becoming unstable. Additionally, driving slowly will assist your tires in gripping the ground and provide you with the traction you need.
Avoid Wet Grass
Using a zero-turn mower on a muddy or steep surface is unsafe. Since wet grass won't provide adequate traction, please wait until it dries out.
How steep is too steep?
You can't safely use a zero-turn mower in certain places because they are too steep. When traveling uphill or downhill, you can discover that you don't have enough control or that the front of the mower slips off the ground.
Check the mower's literature to discover whether the manufacturer identifies particular dangerous slope inclinations. The manufacturers of every product in selecting the finest zero-turn mowers suggest using them on slopes or hills.
Do zero-turn lawnmowers function on uneven terrain?
You may operate a zero-turn mower on slopes, hills, and uneven terrain. Thanks to features like the powerful engine, big tires, and thick deck, you'll get the stability you need.
However, you must be cautious not to drive too quickly, avoid obstacles when you can, and keep your front wheels parallel to the slope at all times. whether you constantly check to see whether the mower manufacturer certifies that the mower is appropriate for use on uneven ground and run it as I have indicated, you will get the best performance out of your zero-turn mower over steep terrain.
The quest for the best zero-turn mowers for hills and steep slopes ends here. Whether you choose a turn-riding mower or a specialized zero-turn riding mower, each offers unique features that make navigating tricky terrains more manageable. Among the options available, residential zero-turn mowers like the John Deere models stand out with their user-friendly designs and high performance. Their commercial lawn mower counterparts offer heavy-duty capabilities, often equipped with more robust engines and wider mower decks, significantly increasing efficiency and speed.
Electric mowers, while environmentally friendly and easy to maintain, may struggle with tough slopes compared to their gas mower counterparts. In contrast, standard riding lawn mowers provide reliable performance but might lack the maneuverability found in zero-turn models. It's important to assess your specific needs, consider the terrain, and make an informed decision. Regardless of your choice, the right mower will make maintaining steep slopes a breeze, providing a pristine lawn that's the envy of your neighborhood.
Undoubtedly, one on our list will be a suitable match if you discover that a mower isn't your best choice.