Riding mowers have made lawn and garden maintenance more manageable. However, mowing on hills and steep slopes poses a challenge to many landowners.
Frankly speaking, mowing a hill is a risky undertaking that calls for utter precaution. If you’re going to mow a hill with a riding mower, you need to be extra cautious. Otherwise, your mowing tractor will tip or roll over on you and seriously injure or even kill you.
However, with the right skills and taking proper safety measures, cutting the steepest of hills should not worry you. In this article, I’ll share my best tips on how to mow a hill with a riding mower without putting anything at risk.
First and foremost, choose the best mower for your steep terrain.
It is important to note that not all riding mowers are designed for steep slopes. Riding mowers come in different sizes and engine power. The more horsepower that the mower has, the safer it is to accomplish the hazardous task. Be keen to choose the mower that best suits the gradient of your slope.
When it comes to steep terrains, rear-wheel driven mowers are the best performers. The wheels should be wide enough to offer excellent traction. Small wheels poorly grip the ground, making it easy to slide and tip over.
Survey the hill.
Most people find this step pointless and approach the mowing blindly. Inspecting the area is vital, especially for a hill with long grass. Before you begin the task, check out any obstacles such as stones, loops, holes, sticks, ruts, etc.
Comb your land for wires, nails, ropes, and other debris that could clog the machine’s blade. Clogged blades obstruct movement and increase the chances of toppling. A small stone or a snag could easily destabilize your mower and make it roll over.
Get rid of such obstacles to avoid unnecessary injuries. Only start the task when you’re sure that nothing will get in the way.
Mow on a sunny day. Sunshine makes obstacles more visible.
Sometimes, attachments like grass catchers and mulch make easy the work of mowing. However, when mowing on hills, they lower the machine’s stability and increase the risks of tipping. If possible, get rid of them.
Go slow with the machine.
Another tip on how to mow a hill with a riding mower is to maintain a steady speed. Driving the mower slowly and steadily keeps you from danger. When riding at a fast speed, you can hardly see and dodge obstacles. It is also easy for the speeding mower to lose traction and go out of control.
Also, keep the speed constant. Abrupt acceleration changes uphill increase the chances of sliding and tipping. Start with the lowest gear to avoid unnecessary gear shifting up the slope.
Do not start or stop the machine on the hill. Start on flat a ground and swiftly go uphill.
Avoid making sudden turns. These are risky. If you need to turn, go downhill on flat ground first then take the turn.
Remember to fasten your seatbelt. Otherwise, you might get ejected out of the machine in case of any sudden forces.
Mow only up and downhill
The direction of mowing is as crucial as the speed. Unlike push mowers, riding mowers are not friendly to mowing across or sideways. Never mow horizontally. This prompts the mower to slant, increasing the risks of toppling or rolling over downhill. Much worse if you don’t have an escape plan as the mower will come crushing on you and severely injure you.
If the slope is too steep, only mow downhill.
Don’t mow wet
It is bad to mow during the rainy season or early in the morning when the grass is dewy. Wet grass offers poor traction and prompts the mower to slide and tip over.
The blades can also get clogged up, making it hard to maneuver and, in the long run, reducing stability. Less stability means rolling over. Clogged blades also prompt regular cleaning.
Before beginning to mow, make sure the grass is dry. Allow some sun to clear up the frost from the previous night.
Whether flat or hilly, we all want neat and well-tended lawns. This may mean that mowing is a task we have to undertake regularly. If you have a sloping lawn, handle your riding mower with caution lest it transforms into a deadly weapon. A nicely trimmed lawn is not worth your broken bones. If the slope seems too steep to handle, consider other alternatives:
- Go for a push mower that has little risks.
- If the area is fenced, let your sheep and goats do the mowing.
- Convert the area into a garden that doesn’t require tending.
- Completely get rid of the grass. However, find ways to curb soil erosion.