Dangers of Zero Turn Mowers on Hills [How To Be Safe]

Dangers of Zero Turn Mowers on Hills

If you have a garden that is not level and has many features in it, you may be considering investing in a zero-turn lawn mower.

They are agile and make maneuvering around obstacles easy but are zero-turn lawn mowers safe on hills?

There are two main dangers of zero turn mowers on hills, either losing control of the mower, or it tipping over if the slope is too steep.

These zippy lawn mowers are an upgrade from your average push mower, but it is vital to know the risks when using a new piece of machinery like this.

This article will cover some of the dangers of using zero-turn mowers on hills and give some valuable tips for using your new lawn mower safely.

Grow Your Yard Tip
If you are in the market for a zero-turn mower, you’re in luck! We have a review of all the best zero-turn mowers that we recommend. We guarantee you’ll find your new lawn mower on this list.

What are Zero-Turn Mowers?

Before we get started, it may be helpful to explain what a zero-turn mower actually is.

Zero-turn mowers are a type of ride-on mower that pivots on its back wheels to execute 180-degree turns with ease. This makes them superior to other ride-on mowers, which have a significant turning circle and require you to do three-point turns regularly.

These agile lawn mowers are perfect for larger lawns with uneven terrain and many ornamental features like swimming pools, ponds, and garden beds. Due to its precision turning, it will negotiate these tight spots with ease, within reason.

Instead of a steering wheel, these lawn mowers are maneuvered using two levers that you push forward or pull backward to move around. The individual levers turn the mower left, right, and 180 degrees. Pushing forward speeds it up while pulling back puts it in reverse.

One downside to zero-turn mowers is that, unlike other ride-on mowers, they are not suited for extra attachments aside from a sprayer.

If you have a large, decorated lawn, then zero-turn mowers are a fast and efficient way to keep your lawn neat and tidy.

Grow Your Yard Fact
Zero-turn lawn mowers were invented in 1956 by Max Swisher, a man who hated mowing his lawn. He once tied a gas push mower to a tree and let it run in increasingly smaller circles until it reached the center.

Dangers of Zero-Turn Mowers on Hills

Essentially, driving a zero-turn mower is operating a vehicle, so safety precautions should be taken before using one.

The two main dangers of using a zero-turn mower on hills are:

1. Losing Control

It is easy to lose control when you are on a very steep hill or if you are mowing downhill by going too fast or losing traction and sliding.

This can cause you to crash the mower and possibly injure yourself.

2. Tipping Over

If you are on a too steep slope, you risk your whole mower tipping over. This is why most zero-turn mowers are fitted with roll bars.

Tipping is possibly the most dangerous part of using a zero-turn mower because it could lead you to become pinned underneath the mower.

As with all heavy machinery, you should always consult the manual to ensure that you are using your mower in the safest way possible, but we also have some tips to keep yourself safe.

Grow Your Yard Fact
Not sure what type of mower is best for your lawn? This is the general rule that we follow to decide:

  • Under ½ acre- Reel or electric mower
  • ½ to 1 acre- Gas push mower
  • 1-3 acres- Riding mower

DON’T MISS: Take a look at our article all about the choke on your mower.

How to Operate a Zero-Turn Mower on a Hill Safely

So now that we know the dangers, how can we prevent accidents from happening?

The number one rule for using a zero-turn mower safely is not to mow a slope steeper than 15 degrees.

Apart from this essential rule, there are many techniques you can use to operate your mower safely:

  • Install Safety Features

Your zero-turn mower should come with some form of roll-over protection. It is important to install this before attempting to mow a hill just in case the worst happens, and it does tip over.

  • Angle Nose Up Hill

The small castor at the front of the mower will naturally want to point downhill, which could cause you to slide off course.

To remedy this, angle the nose of the mower slightly uphill as you go.

  • Take It Slow

It’s easy to get over-excited with a fun machine like the zero-turn mower, but it’s important to take it slow.

The slower you go, the less likely you are to lose traction and slide. Slow and steady is the way to go.

  • Mow Side to Side

It may seem tempting to mow up and down the hill, but we do not recommend this.

Mowing side to side, starting at the bottom, is the ideal way to tackle a hill. This will allow you to maintain control throughout the process and methodically cover the area.

  • Turn Up Hill

When you get to the end of a row, the best way to turn around is to face uphill and execute the 180-degree turn.

Turning downhill will point you in the direction you have already mowed and may cause you to slide.

  • Don’t Turn With the Slide

If something goes wrong and you start to slide, we recommend steering downhill rather than with the slide.

This will prevent the mower from tipping over and help you regain control.

  • Don’t Mow Wet Grass

We all know that mowing wet grass is not a good idea with any lawn mower. The grass doesn’t cut as well, leading to your lawn being uneven.

With a zero-turn mower, it is even more hazardous. Cutting sloped, wet grass on a zero-turn mower increases your chances of losing traction and slipping.

It may be annoying to wait until a rainy period is over or for dew to dry, but it is an essential safety factor no matter what lawn mower you’re using.

  • Maintain Your Tyres

The grip is the most important element in maintaining traction in your zero-turn mower.

This is why we recommend maintaining and regularly replacing the mower’s tires so that you can always rely on them to keep you in place on a hill.

Our recommendation:

Husqvarna MZ61 Zero Turn Mower
  • 24 HP Kawasaki engine provides reliable startups and high ground speeds
  • Roll-over protection system (ROPS) ensures safer operation in all...
  • Fabricated 11-gauge steel cutting deck offers an excellent 61 in. cut with...
  • Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged with a 9-bushel triple bag...
  • High-back seat with armrests, foam-padded hand grips and vibration...

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are ride-on lawn mowers safe on hills?

As with zero-turn mowers, ride-on mowers can cause some safety concerns on hills. We do not recommend using a ride-on mower on a hill that is steeper than 15 degrees.

What is the steepest slope you can mow?

This depends on what kind of mower you are using.

Most hand trimmers and lawn trimmers can be used safely on any terrain.

However, 15 degrees is the steepest slope we recommend for any ride-on or zero-turn mowers.

If you are dealing with a steeper hill, we recommend mowing it downhill using a traditional push mower.


Zero-turn lawn mowers are convenient machines that will undoubtedly take your lawn maintenance to a whole new level!

As we have discussed, there are some dangers to using a zero-turn mower, but that can be said for most pieces of heavy machinery.

If you educate yourself thoroughly on how to operate your lawn mower and make sure that you are not mowing any slopes steeper than 15 degrees, then you should be able to mow away in relative safety.

We hope this has helped you feel just that little bit safer; happy mowing!

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