What type of lawnmower is best for inclines and small hills

When confronted with a hill you need the right equipment. If you don’t have the correct lawn mower, what could be a simple task just gets more difficult, so selecting the right machine is important.

Working out what you need

Before looking at potential new machines, you need to consider what kind of machine will make your life easier. You therefore need to get to grips with the needs of your garden.

  • Gradient
  • This will be one of the biggest indicators as to the type of lawnmower that you will require as you will need a machine that can handle the job without too much effort.

    Unfortunately, to make things confusing, hill gradient can be measured in three different ways. There is no right or wrong way but each method has a different unit of measurement based on the horizontal distance (HD) and vertical distance (VD). This is therefore the angle based on the height gained over a horizontal distance.

    Formula Example Result
    Slope Ratio (H:V) HD:VD 40:10 4:1
    Slope Percentage (%) (VD ÷ HD) × 100 (10 ÷ 40) x 100 25%
    Slope Angle (°) (VD ÷ HD) × 100 ArcTan (10 ÷ 40) 14°

    To put this in other terms this is how gradient is measured.

    Gradient is therefore measured as a calculation between horizontal and vertical distances. Certain lawnmowers are not conducive at high angles so you should be aware of what is recommended for your lawn.

  • Size of the hill
  • It isn’t just the gradient that you need to be aware of. If it is a large garden you need to consider that it will be long and hard work so you may find a more powerful lawnmower will be able to tackle the job a lot easier. Pushing a mower up a steep hill or keeping it under control going downhill can be very tiring especially if your garden is large.

  • Obstacles & Rugged Terrain
  • You should also be aware of any obstacles or if the terrain is particularly rugged. If you do have terrain that is difficult to navigate around, larger machines will not be as efficient in comparison to their smaller counterparts.

Types of mowers for the job

There are no shortages of mowers that can take on hilly gardens. That doesn't mean that all mowers were created equal, as they certainly weren’t. Not all lawnmowers were designed with steep gradients in mind.

  • Walk-Behind Mowers
  • These will be the cheapest compared with other varieties. They will also be among the safest. These mowers give you the freedom and flexibility to manoeuvre the machine exactly how you want. However they also will be the most tiresome as most of the time the power will come from you. If your hill is particularly steep this could present a few problems for you, as it will get tiring very quickly. If you do have your heart set on a walk behind mower you should make sure your machine is either real wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The additional power driving the wheels will make the job considerably easier.

  • Robotic Mowers
  • It is a misconception that robotic mowers can only work on flat lawns. In actual fact the Flymo robotic mower can work on gradients of up to 25% without any issue come rain or shine (something riding mowers cannot do). Robotic mowers will also mean you won’t even need to be present at all, as after you have set it up it will take care of this chore for you.

  • Riding Mowers
  • These machines are significantly more expensive than their walk-behind counterparts however they are usually drastically more powerful and make the grass cutting much easier. They are usually fairly impractical if the overall size of the garden is quite small, however they can take a significant chunk of the work out of cutting the grass if the size is worthwhile. It is very important to remember, however, that the riding mowers have a much higher risk of tipping over when mowing hills – which can be very dangerous. You also should look to only cut the grass when it is dry.

  • Zero Turn Mowers

    Zero turn mowers come in both riding and walk-behind varieties and are characterised by the ability to turn 360 degrees on the spot. The front wheels can spin which mean they can turn within their own trajectory. This makes them incredibly maneuverable and can be very efficient on larger lawns as well as hills.

  • Hover Mowers
  • These machines are typically not as effective as other walk behind mowers when it comes to steep hills. Small banks are where hover mowers come into their own. They are incredibly maneuverable as they float above the grass so can be swept in a sideways motion to cut the grass on the bank with ease.

What to look for

Now you have sized up your own garden you now know what you need to get mowing. There are therefore a few things that you should look for.

  • Size of the Deck
  • The width of the cutting deck is important, as this will determine how maneuverable it will be when on hilly terrain. A wider deck will never be as good at mowing around obstacles or a narrow ditch so you should pick the right mower for your lawn. Ideally with an open lawn you can look for a cutting deck between 42 and 54 inches.

  • Ease of Operation
  • Naturally some mowers will be more difficult to operate than others, as some are more complicated than others. If you are looking at a riding mower features such as cruise control will be a helpful. You will need to work harder on lawns with hills so you will need to do what you can to find a mower that is as easy to operate as possible.

  • Weight
  • Because you are going to be working quite hard, pushing a heavy walk-behind lawnmower can be tiring. You should therefore consider a powerful machine within quite a light mower where possible. A riding mower may be the better option depending on how hilly your lawn is however you should be careful as if the machine tips over this can be dangerous.

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1200R
Robotic Robtoic Lawnmower 1200 R
Working area capacity (±20) 400 m²
Typical charging time 50 min
Alarm Yes
Glider 350
Glider 350
Power 1500 W
Cutting width 35 cm
Cable length 12 m
Mighti Mo 300 Li
Mighti-Mo
Battery voltage 40 V
Cutting width 30 cm