Hills can cause some serious problems for weaker riding mowers. But others can take hills in their stride. So we decided to take a look at a few examples of riding mowers and examine how effective they might be at handling hills and slopes.
Best Riding Lawn Mowers for Hills
The best riding lawn mowers for hills are:
- Best Traction: Husqvarna TS 354XD Riding Mower
- Most Comfortable: Simplicity 2691337 Broadmoor Mower
- Best Zero-Turn: RedMax RZT Riding Zero-Turn Mower
- Best Value for Money: Craftsman T225 Riding Lawn Mower
- Troy-Bilt Horse 42 Riding Lawn Mower
- Ryobi RY48110 Electric Riding Lawn Mower
- Husqvarna Z254 Zero Turn Riding Mower
This information is shared as personal opinion for our situation only, and does not constitute professional advice to you – so make your choice wisely and if in doubt, consult your nearest gardening shop! Unfortunately riding mowers can be dangerous on hills (particularly zero-turn mowers), so no matter the mower, there are some inherent dangers. Make sure you educate yourself on how to use a mower on a hill and assess the situation for danger before using a mower on a hill.
First, we’ll provide a comparison table, then under this we’ll do a detailed review of each product.
Full Reviews – Top Riding Mowers for Hills
1. Best Traction: Husqvarna TS 354XD Riding Mower
Our Rating: 9.5/10
Husqvarna has a number of high-quality riding mowers and the TS 354XD model is a heavy-duty product in their range that we think would be well suited to hills and sloped terrain.
Traction is key to this mower. The commercial grade transmission is combined with an electric locking rear differential and large, wide rear tires to give traction when used on hills.
All this talk of traction could give the impression that this mower will grip and tear up your turf during use however the deck does feature anti-scalp wheels to avoid damage to grass on uneven surfaces.
This mower is also a heavy-duty machine that we think is built with durability and longevity in mind. The majority of the fixtures are made from durable and hard-wearing steel and include a fabricated steel deck, steel hood, brush guard, and a cast iron axle.
While the mower is designed to be comfortable with a high back seat and a thick steering wheel, one small gripe that some customers have is that the suspension might be lacking in comparison to some of the other heavy-duty components.
Overall, we feel this mower could be well suited to use on hills due to its impressive traction capabilities.
|Good Traction: The commercial grade transmission combined with large, wide rear tires give good traction, especially on hills.|
Durability: A fabricated steel deck, steel hood, brush guard and a cast iron axle all combine to form a durable and heavy-duty mower.
Comfort: A high back seat with armrests and an extra thick steering wheel all increase comfort during extended periods of use.
|Shock Absorption: While we feel the seat is comfortable and ergonomic, some customers feel that the seat needs more shock absorption and that the springs may not be large enough.|
2. Most Comfortable: Simplicity 2691337 Broadmoor Mower
Our Rating: 9/10
There are a few mowers on this list that are from brands that you might not be too familiar with. The Simplicity Broadmoor mower falls under this bracket, though it has some good features that certainly make it stand out in this category.
Firstly, this mower is designed with both performance and comfort in mind. Power steering allows for more control when used on uneven ground and the suspension system is designed specifically for comfort and easily outshines others in this category.
22” rear tires are some of the largest that you’ll find in this category and warrant mention as this combined with power steering allows for good control and handling, even on uneven surfaces.
While we really do like all the features with this mower, we do need to point out that it’s at the top end in terms of price when compared to mowers with similar (though not quite as good in our opinion) specs. This can be a major stumbling block for some customers and could be hard to justify over similar models priced more affordably.
While you might not be familiar with this brand, the features and specs that the Broadmoor mower has are great and we feel it’s a good option personally, especially for yards with plenty of hills.
|Control: Power steering and large 22” tires should allow for enhanced control and handling on uneven and sloping landscapes.|
Free Floating Mower Deck: The free floating mower deck adjusts to the contours of yards, helping to handle hills and slopes.
Upgraded Features: A dedicated suspension system, dashboard controls, and electric height controls are all modern features that make for an ergonomic and efficient mower.
|Price: While this is a great mower in our opinion, the price is certainly higher than similar models on this list and could easily be out of many customers’ price range.|
3. Best Zero-Turn: RedMax RZT Riding Zero-Turn Mower
Our Rating: 8.5/10
The RedMax RZT is based on Husqvarna commercial grade mowers, which gives us some confidence that it’s an impressive commercial grade mower for residential use.
The solid and robust frame is a commercial grade standard for added durability and heavy-duty use in what might be considered rough terrain, though keep in mind it’s still designed for residential use.
Surprisingly, comfort and safety are two key features with this model which further highlights the mower’s suitability for rougher terrain, making it one of the best riding lawn mowers for rough terrain. A high 18” padded seat is combined with a seat belt and standard roll-over protection for combined comfort and safety during use.
It’s also worth pointing out that as a zero-turn mower, it provides superior handling and maneuverability over yard tractor style mowers. This could mean it can do an equally productive job on smaller yards as it does on larger yards.
We must admit that detailed information or reviews are quite limited online and a premium price might be a stumbling block as to why this product is not more widely used.
Despite this, the features that it offers are good and we can see it being highly productive for a yard of 1 acre or more.
|Commercial Grade: A solid and robust frame and castors combined with a fabricated steel deck make for a durable and commercial grade model.|
Comfort: An 18” padded, high back seat is one of the largest on the market and provides good comfort when used for long durations.
Handling: The zero-turn functionality combined with roll-over protection mean that this mower is better suited to hills than many other zero turn models (though it’s worth noting that it’s not specifically made for hills).
|Few Reviews: This is not a widely manufactured product and therefore there are limited reviews available to use for comparison against similar models.|
4. Best Value for Money: Craftsman T225 Riding Lawn Mower
Our Rating: 8.5/10
For such a compact model, the Craftsman T225 is a powerful and easily maneuverable mower that also offers good traction for use on hills.
The foot pedal operated hydrostatic transmission allows for smooth and precise changes in speed and direction which give it good handling capability (although we try to avoid steering on hills).
Maneuverability is another key feature with this model and while it may not have the same degree of control as a zero turn mower, the 5” turning radius combined with the capability to mow in reverse means that this mower is easily capable of getting in and out of tight or awkward spaces.
20” rear and 15” front tires are designed to be turf saving and like a few other products on this list, can help provide good traction on hills yet still be kind to the grass.
While the mower boasts a powerful 19HP Briggs & Stratton engine the one downside we see is the 46” deck. This is definitely large enough for most yards however, those with larger yards will definitely want a mower with higher top speed and a larger deck.
|Quick Start: The ready start engine system allows for fast and reliable startups every time.|
Control: The foot pedal operated hydro-transmission gives great control to speed and directional changes making it well suited to uneven terrain.
Deck Wash: The built-in deck wash makes cleaning and maintenance fast and effortless after use.
|Mowing Deck Size: While being compact is typically a good thing, most yards with hills will be on the larger side in general and therefore some users might want a mower with a larger deck to accommodate this.|
5. Troy-Bilt Horse 42 Riding Lawn Mower
Our Rating: 8/10
Troy-Bilt is a brand that you might not be too familiar with however they’ve certainly brought out a decent residential mower that will appeal to those that are new to a ride on mower.
Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that the 20” rear and 15” front tires are both turf saving tires meaning they should provide sufficient traction and minimize damage to turf compared to models without turf saving tires (of course, this doesn’t guarantee no damage!). This also means they have an adequate grip for use on hills.
Chris Says: While this is a no-frills model, it does have a few features that might be good for hills. First, it’s a riding lawn tractor, which we feel tend to handle hills better than zero turn mowers. Second, the tires appear to have good traction for hills.
The mower comes fully assembled and cleaning is relatively easy thanks to a built-in deck wash. The fact that it doesn’t have a removable footplate for easy access to the deck for maintenance or repairs is a minor issue when it comes to maintenance though.
Headlights, a comfortable high back seat, and automatic transmission all combine to make this mower feel more like you’re driving a car, making this one well known for being user friendly and intuitive, especially for those new to riding mowers.
In our opinion, this is a good mower in the low-end price category however we don’t think it offers as many competitive and sought after features as some of the more reputable mowers on this list.
|Turf Saving Tires: Not only do the turf saving tires protect the grass but also offer superior traction on hills and slopes.|
Easy Maintenance: The included deck wash system makes cleaning quick and effortless after use and the mower also comes fully assembled (with the exception of a few small parts).
|Limited Cutting Height: With only 5 settings and a cutting height ranging from 1.5” – 3.75” you are quite limited compared to other mowers in this category.|
Quite Taxing: A pedal operated mower with no cruise control could become quite tiresome and fatiguing when doing larger lawns.
6. Ryobi RY48110 Electric Riding Lawn Mower
Our Rating: 7.5/10
The Ryobi Ry48100 is an innovative mower that is one of the world’s first (alongside another Ryobi mower) to make a battery powered riding mower and it’s a surprisingly decent mower as a result!
The key selling point is of course that it’s battery powered and therefore a more environmentally friendly option when compared to a gas powered alternative.
Given that it’s an electric mower, it should run quietly compared to gas mowers, and is therefore a great idea for residential use. You’ll also find that not only is it more environmentally friendly but it’s easier and cheaper to operate.
Maintenance is significantly reduced as a battery powered mower requires much less maintenance than an engine and the cost of operating is also cheaper with a full charge costing roughly $0.05 – $0.06.
There are some cons, though. A battery life of 2 hours (which will typically cover 2 acres) will not be ideal for those with larger yards. Furthermore, the suspension is not the best, according to many users in online reviews, meaning that long duration work on uneven ground could be far from comfortable.
Overall, this is an impressive mower that is well priced in comparison to gas powered models of similar specs, the only thing we’d note is that due to the battery life and suspension issues we feel this is best suited to residential homes with smaller yards.
|Economical: The battery powered mower is both eco-friendly (replacing gas with electricity) and easy to maintain with fewer components needed to run it.|
Price: The purchase price relatively inexpensive when compared with some of the competition, and the run time is cost effective with Ryobi claiming a full charge will only cost $0.05 – $0.06.
|Battery Life: A 2 hour/2 acre run time on a full is very decent. However, for larger yards of 2+ acres, it could be frustrating with the need to keep charging this in order to finish the job.|
Rides Rough: The lack of suspension means that this mower rides quite rough on uneven ground and you might experience a bumpy ride if using it on hills.
7. Husqvarna Z254 Zero Turn Riding Mower
We feel the Husqvarna Z254 is a powerful mower that can make light work of a mid- and large-sized yard.
Power is a noticeable feature of this product. A 26HP Kohler engine (with reliable startups using an automatic choke) combined with a 54” deck creates an impressive cutting capacity of 2.8 acres/hr allowing users to cut larger lawns in a fraction of the time. (If you’re after a mower that’s good for larger yards, check out our review of the best riding lawn mowers for 5 acres)
Handling is another standout feature that helps add to the productivity of this model. The zero-turn functionality allows for increased control and maneuverability in tight or obstructed areas. This means that while this mower performs well over larger yards, it’s also well suited to handling obstacles in the yard itself.
While this mower is noticeably powerful and productive when used on larger yards, some users have noted that it doesn’t do as well on hills as you might expect and that the traction can be lacking at times.
As people have commented on the mower facing some difficulties around hills, we can’t say this is the best riding lawn mower for hills but it is nonetheless a productive mower that can make short work of larger yards.
|Productivity: A top speed of 6.5mph and a cutting capacity of 2.8 acres/hr is incredibly productive and makes this mower well suited to larger yards.|
Powerful: The 26HP Kohler engine is not only noticeably powerful but also reliable to start thanks to an automatic choke feature.
Ergonomic Controls: The control panel is conveniently located for ease of use and the spring-loaded deck adjustment is quick and efficient to use.
|Traction: Some users have noted that this mower can lose traction on hills.|
Frequently Asked Questions
Disclaimer: None of the below information is professional advice, and is personal opinion based on our circumstances only. It does not constitute recommendations or advice to you. Seek professional opinions always.
Is it safe to Mow on Hills?
Mowing on hills has many inherent dangers, and we cannot guarantee your safety when mowing on hills. Partly, this is because your safety is almost equally as reliant on your skills and ability to manage risk as it is on the machinery you’re using. With this in mind, also check your manuals for your mower to see the maximum safe slope for mowing on hills and any instructions on how to use the mower best on hills. As each mower is different, it’s important to refer to the guidelines set out by the manufacturer.
The major inherent risk of riding a mower on hills is the possibility of tipping. Riding across the hill rather than up the hill, for example, can increase risk of the mower losing its center of balance and ending up on top of you. Mowers are incredibly heavy and this may lead to death or severe life changing injury. The risk of using a riding mower on hills is higher if you’re carrying a riding lawn mower dump cart on the back. Similarly, pointing the mower nose first down the hill and attempting to steer on a hill can lead to loss of control.
In sum, mowing on hills is something we often have to do, but it’s important that you educate yourself on the best technique (which is beyond the scope of this article) and danger signs to look out for. Follow your mower’s manual, and seek professional advice (which we do provide here).
Are Zero Turn Mowers good for Hills?
Generally, no. Zero turn mowers are designed to be fast, agile machines. This means on hills they often end up being poorer at doing that ‘grunt work’ of pushing up hill. The front wheels are also often smaller and have less traction on zero turn mowers than lawn tractors. In our personal opinion, no mower is 100% safe on a hill, but there tend to be better lawn tractor options than zero turn mower options out there for hills. If you’re dead set on getting a zero turn model, check out our review of the best zero turn mowers for hills.
What we Look for in a Riding Mower for Hills
There are three main factors we consider when looking for a riding mower that might be capable of tackling hills. These are: tire traction, engine power, and comfort.
Traction is very important on hills. There are many factors that will influence the traction you have, including soil moisture, how wet or slippery the grass is, and even the type of grass you’re working on. One thing we like to look out for is a mower that has superior tire traction both on the front and back tires. Generally, lawn tractors fare better with tire traction – particularly with the front tires. While a zero turn mower is designed to be fast on flats, lawn tractors are often designed to handle a much greater variety of terrains.
A more powerful engine will be able to handle the load of a hill more effectively. A 26 HP Briggs-Stratton, for example, is likely to do a much better job than a little 19HP no-name engine. We tend to look for brand-name engines, product reviews on Amazon that attest to the power of the engine (and particularly reviews that attest to power on hills), and higher horsepower, when making a judgement about whether the engine will cope on hilly terrain.
Some brands pay much more attention to comfort and user experience than others. Three key metrics are suspension, power steering, and the seat. Good rear suspension can be a godsend when working on rough terrain and changing gradients. Power steering is increasingly common on lawn tractors but not a guarantee. We like to see power steering if we’re going to be getting a mower that we’ll be using for several hours – it saves a lot of energy over time. Lastly, a comfortable seat might be very beneficial – and factors such as high rise of the seat, padding, and contour design all feature in our thoughts when looking for the best lawn tractor for hills.
It’s not easy to find the right riding mower for hills. This review of the best riding lawn mowers for hills has provided some examples and our ratings of them for our personal circumstances. Personally, we’re quite bullish on the Husqvarna TS 354XD riding mower for ourselves, particularly because of the traction of this mower. Of course, none of this constitutes advice – professional or otherwise – for you or your circumstances, and riding lawn mowers on hills can be very dangerous, so do your own due diligence and consult a professional.
We hope this general information has been useful though as you go about searching for the best riding lawn mower for hills!
Simon & Chris