With the mowing season soon in full force, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) outlined some safety procedures to keep in mind when mowing on slopes and inclines.
This article was originally published in Landscapemanagement.net.
“If you are using your lawn mower on a slope, it is very important that you pay attention to the terrain, be vigilant of risks and know how to fully operate your mower,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI. “These best practices can help lawn mower operators avoid potential mishaps.”
The safety tips are as follows.
1. Exercise caution.
Operating any mower on a slope requires extra caution. Slopes are a major factor related to loss of control and tip over accidents, which can result in severe injury.
2. Use the right equipment for the task.
Don’t select a product that may be too small or unsuitable for the job. Ask in the comments below or your dealer for assistance.
3. Know how to operate your mower.
Read the operator’s manual to understand the controls. Know how to stop your mower quickly and disengage the controls.
4. Survey the terrain.
Watch for holes, ruts, bumps, rocks or other hidden objects. Uneven terrain could overturn the machine. Tall grass can hide obstacles.
5. Be vigilant.
Be vigilant of risks, especially when operating on a slope. On a slope there is a risk of slip and slide resulting in a loss of control. Be aware of the risks of rolling backward, dropping off a wall or bank and the potential to overturn into a water hazard.
Want to know more? Mowing Slopes Safely – Let’s Get Real About Hills.
I have a grass-cutting dilemma. We just moved into a new house that sits on a 1.3 acre hillside, with 1 acre of grass that needs cut. I’ve always used self-propelled mowers in the past and I’ve never even been on a tractor. However, trying to cut an acre of hill with a 21″ lawn mower takes waaaay too long (not to mention the blisters on my feet), so I’ve been looking into purchasing a tractor. While researching, I came across your site and noticed that you mention all over the place that you shouldn’t use a tractor on more than a 15 degree slope. I measured my hill with an iPhone app, and it is basically all above 15 degrees, mostly between 15 and 20, with several spots between 20 and 26 degrees. There are actually a couple spots at 30 degrees, but I figured we’ll just do some landscaping there that doesn’t require cutting. I don’t want to spend a ton of money, and I don’t need to do any hauling or snow plowing, etc. I just need to cut the grass. So, given my situation, do you have any recommendations? What would be the most inexpensive option?
Hi Adam, To choices. If it really is that steep take a look at a larger walk-behind mower. The Toro Lawn Mowers Personal Pace TimeMaster 30 in. Variable Speed Self-Propelled Walk-Behind Gas Lawn Mower with Briggs & Stratton Engine 20199 and a set of golf shoes will cut your mowing time in half.
Before you look at a lawn tractor I suggest you ask a neighbor if they would mow that hilly lawn. If they would, ask them to mow it once for you and watch how they do it. If they will mow it and they do, a good inexpensive mower for you would be a Craftsman
42″ 19HP Riding Mower would be a good choice.
We are looking for a mower. Last night, I stumbled upon your web page “do you really need a zero turn mower” and I was up until 2AM reading. Lots of great information. Thank you for your time and sharing your expertise. You will see the mowers we are considering are based on your information.
Here’s my situation. Mowing close to 2 acres, mostly slopes. Generally, our property is sloped 13 degrees with quite a bit at 17 and some at 20 & 23. We would like to have a mower that will handle our terrain, haul w/cart, push snow and be durable. Longevity of the transmission and motor high priority. We like the idea of the Husqvarna YT54LS with the locking rear differential. We like the Craftsman Model # 98643 with tight turn and 7.5 mph speed. And are looking at the Cub Cadet Z-force SZ 54 as the wheeled steering is supposed to improve handling on slopes. It seems that the Craftsman will do the work nearly as efficient for less than half the price. Really, the mower that will do all we want it to and last the longest is what we are looking for. Even if we have to spend more.
West Liberty, Ohio
Hi Harrod, I took so long to answer you because I have been trying to figure out if there is a mower available to mow your slopes.
Take a look at this slope indicator. .
Here are a few facts that made me think about this for quite a while.
1. 20-23 degrees most people can’t walk up. There is only one reasonably priced mower that is designed to mow that steep of slopes and it is the Ventrac – Mowing Slopes The rest of them are $26-45,000.
2. 15 degrees is the steepest any of the lawn tractors and zero-turns are rated for.
3. You should mow slopes with lawn tractor up and down. You should mow across with Zero-turns.
4. If you can’t back up a slope with your mower it is too steep to mow.
That said, The 3 mowers you selected are three of the stronger models. The Craftsman has a strong transmission but it will not have enough traction even with wheel weights. Most guys who try to mow that steep will install lugged tires, fluid in the tires and even will use chains.
The Husqvarna has just as strong of transmission plus it has the automatic traction control so with wheel weights it will be a better choice.
I haven’t seen owners using the Z-Force on hills that steep. The transmissions will easily handle the load and the steerable front wheels will allow it to hang on slopes better than an equally priced zero-turn. I’ve seen contractors using the Cub Cadet Tank on slopes that steep but that’s a $12,000 mower.
So of the three I would consider the Husqvarna first.
Next month I was going to purchase either a Exmark Quest or comparable Toro Time Cutter until I read your article, thank you.
I live in north east PA. I have a flat one acre with six trees, a deck and 2 small landscaped islands to negotiate. My main objective is to spend less time mowing and spend more time with my children. I currently have a 28″ push mower.
Most of my neighbors bought John Deere lawn tractors at Lowes and two already required parts to be replaced. I would rather spend $2,000, but we can afford $3500 for a good quality mower that will decrease my mowing time. I have 2 dealerships within 15 miles that sell. Toro, Snapper, Simplicity, Exmark, and Scag.
Do you have any suggestions?
Hi Sean, Read this article on the Toro Steering wheel ZTR’s. The SW 4200 42 inch version may work well for you. Toro Steering wheel mowers.
If you want a cheaper ZTR check out the 22 HP V-Twin Kohler 46” Zero Turn Riding Mower The 46 inch deck on that ZTR really mows well.
If you want a tractor check out the Pro Series 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 46″ Turn Tight Extreme Riding Mower. Consumer Reports just gave it their best rating for tractors. Only the $3000 Deere X300 beat it.