Mowing a hill is an art and not everyone is perfect in pulling it through. If the hill is steep and contains a lot of ditch lines and unusual curvatures, the job becomes tougher. Mowing steep hills is a very different experience compared to mowing a plain lawn. In this article, we shall go in-depth on everything you need to know about mowing downhill so read on and hopefully you emerge better informed.
1. Choose Appropriate Mowers for Steep Hills Mowing
There are few types of mower available like reel mower, hover mower, zero turn mower etc. So it’s important to determine the type of mowers to be used for a steep hill. The following beginner’s guide on how to mow are just some of these:
Self-Propelled Push Mowers
Push mowers are the right equipment for the mowing of a steep hill. Traditional lawn mowers face the threat of toppling over due to excessive weight at the top. With self-propelled push mowers, you can overcome that. Push mowers are also easy to handle for navigation across the hill surface. They also provide a safety measure.
Unlike push mowers, riding mowers are suitable for a gentle slope, which is having at most 1 foot incline for every 3 feet of a hill’s horizontal surface. One should not use a riding mower to mow a steep hill sideways. Otherwise, it would have a fair chance of destabilizing the mower and eventually make it topple over. Sufficient care should be taken while using the mower uphill and downhill along the slope. On the other hand, a riding mower is much more convenient to use than a push mower and more expensive that it.
2. Precautions to Take While Mowing the Hill
A thorough inspection of the hill is always advisable, as this will prevent moving the mower over ditches, and unexpected and rough surfaces, such as rocks and sticks. One should put on ear protection while mowing as some push mowers’ engines generate a lot of noise that can be a distraction. Another important precaution that needs to be taken is to keep away any person or child from the place of mowing. It’s also advisable to never wear loose-fitting clothing when mowing a hill and to store the gasoline in an approved container.
Ideally, a mower should be placed in an upright condition where the nose faces downwards to counter the heavy weight of its top. Also, it’s advisable to use a self-propelled mower if you’re mowing a steep hill for the first time. If can prevent scalping of the hill if you start with mowing the top of the hill at the beginning. It will prevent you from creating patches in the hill.
While running the mower, it’s safer to move slow and gradually, while watching out for holes or bumps that can unexpectedly increase the slope angle. Also, similar to wet ground, a drought-dry ground is also unsuitable to be mowed, as it will cause loss of tire traction.
Mowing a slope down the hill is dangerous when the surface is not exposed to the sunlight for a long time. It may cause visibility to be impaired. A dry, sunny weather is the perfect condition. However, it’s advisable to always have an option for the escape route, should be mower brake fail. You can thus still steer to a safe spot.
3. How Do You Mow Hills?
If you have a push mower, you can start mowing side to side. As your mower will provide you with the utmost control and thus a less chance of toppling it. On the contrary, if you’re using a riding mower. You can cover more ground safely by moving rows across the height of the hill. Since you may be moving against the gravity. So slipping and flipping the mower across the hill slope can be a dire possibility.
Adjusting the height of the mower is an imperative step towards mowing the right amount. While fixing the height too low may result in completely scalping the ground, adjusting it to a greater height may leave patches on the hill.
You can buy directional tires for ZT traction and a better grip while moving the mower uphill or downhill. You can also add better grips to the mower handles that will allow it to correct poor weight distribution. But even with good traction tires, it’s safer not to mow wet ground. If the hill ground is wet, you may not prevent slipping, wrenching an ankle or letting the mowing equipment flip down right over you.
Take a look at this video that shows how to mow hills perfectly along a steep slope. If you watch this video closely, you can observe the driver maneuvered the mower while starting to move downhill and steered the equipment to a perfect halt at the bottom of the slope. He also used a good grip for the mower that gave him the perfect control during the activity.
4. Ensure the Mower is in the Perfect Condition
A traditional mower may undergo wear and tear from continuous mowing. Keep a check on the amount of surface you have mowed, the sharpness of the mowing blade and the fuel of the mower. You can go through the mower manual carefully and carry out regular maintenance for the equipment. It will allow you maximum productivity out of the mower within minimum time.
5. What Can You Add on to Your Mower?
With optional add-on features, you can customize your mower to fit your needs. You can add an optional remote deck height adjustment, which is a popular upgrade among the hill mowers. You can also include video control devices for better manoeuvrability.
It’s advisable to gauge the decline of the hill slop and determine how safe it is to mow a steep hill, before starting to mow it. If you find it inclines till 1 foot every 3 feet of a hill’s horizontal surface, you’re good to mow it. The more it’s steeper, the more are the risks of undertaking that mowing project.
Mowing a steep hill first time is analogous to riding a bicycle for the first time. Once you’ve read and understood the entire mower manual, you can start mowing a plain lawn to a steep hill. Repeated mowing with the help of a riding mower along a hill with a gradual slope can provide you with a steady learning curve. Gradually, you will get an estimate to increase the torque to the perfect amount so to adjust the speed of the mower for a comfortable and safe mowing experience.