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Best Riding Lawn Mower for Hills | Buyer’s Guide 2021

Having a large, beautiful lawn will make you the envy of the neighborhood – until it comes time to mow it! This is when you'll need the help of the  best riding lawn mower for hills. 

A riding mower is a great solution, especially if you have hilly terrain where gardening is really challenging. 

Read our buyer’s guide and find the best riding lawn mower for hills that delivers performance, power and value for money.


How to Choose the Best Riding Lawn Mower for Hills

While there are a lot of mowers on the market, it’s particularly challenging to find a riding lawn mower that will perform on hilly or uneven terrain. 

Here are some of the most important features to consider.

1. A High Quality Engine

How to Choose the Best Riding Mower for Hills

You want a high-quality engine from a well-known manufacturer like Kawasaki, Briggs & Stratton or Kohler, as these are built to be durable and last even in tough conditions. 

In terms of power, a good engine usually offers 15-17 horsepower which is sufficient for the job.

Remember, a more powerful engine won’t make you faster, but they are a good choice if you plan of hauling a cart or snow blade.

2. Electric vs Gasoline Riding Mowers

Riding mowers can run on gasoline or electricity. While both options are powerful, there are pros and cons to consider.

Electric riding mowers  

An electric riding lawn mower is battery-powered, which makes it eco-friendly, easy to maintain and very quiet.

However, it will need to be recharged every 30-45 minutes, which can be frustrating if your lawn takes longer to trim.

Gasoline riding mowers

Gas powered riding lawn mowers emit fumes and are pretty noisy to run, but they’ll keep running as long as you have fuel for them.

Although they need more maintenance than electric mowers, they are much more cheaply priced.

3. Size Of Your Mower Deck

This is the width you will be able to cut as you drive your riding lawn mower. Compact mowers can cut as little as 30 inches wide, while larger mowers can cut up to 50 inches wide.

The size you need depends on the size and layout of your lawn. 

A large, fairly open lawn can manage a 50 inch cutting deck, while a smaller lawn with obstacles such as trees, shrubs and gates will be more easily maintained with a 30-40 inch cutting deck, as it is more maneuverable.

4. Mower's Transmission Type

Riding lawn mowers transmission types

Source: Amazon

Riding lawn mowers come in a range of transmission types, including gear-driven, automatic and hydrostatic. As with the fuel types, there are pros and cons to the different transmission types.

Gear Driven Transmission

This is manual transmission, where you have to use the gears yourself to send power to the wheels and move the mower.

It’s the most basic and traditional transmission style, and makes these machines very durable and long lasting as well as affordable to buy.

They can be a bit of a learning curve for anyone unfamiliar with manual gears, however, and they are not always as comfortable to use if you have to mow lots of turns and corners due to the constant gear shifting you have to do.

Automatic Transmission

These mowers use a belt and variable pulley system to change the gears for you, operating in the same way as an automatic vehicle.

They’re a lot easier to drive, especially on smaller lawns with lots of trees and obstacles to mow around, and shift quickly between forward and reverse.

Automatic Transmission do tend to be a bit more expensive to buy and maintain.

Hydrostatic Transmission

This is the newest and most powerful transmission technology available, and is a great option for any size lawn.

It’s a very simple technology to use, which makes the mower very easy and smooth to operate, making these one of the best riding mowers for hills and uneven terrain.

You can also usually get a great cruise control option that lets you set the speed and sit back and relax.

They are more expensive than other options both to buy and maintain, but the results and ease of use win many people over.

5. Your Lawn Terrain

If your lawn is sloping, uneven or hilly, then you should look for a riding lawn mower with a wide stance, low profile, good traction and a low center of gravity.

This will be the best riding lawn mower for hills because it will be able to tackle the uneven ground without sliding, slipping or tipping.

Advantages of Using a Riding Lawn Mower for Hills

Best riding lawn mower for hills comes with a number of benefits. The key benefits are listed below.

    Riding lawn mowers are ideal for anyone who has a health problem or difficulty standing and pushing a mower for a significant amount of time.
  • They are easy and enjoyable to use, as the technique is much like driving a car.
  • Riding lawn mowers are able to tackle hilly and uneven terrain that can be challenge with push mowers.
  • Best riding mowers are push or key-start, so you don’t have to wrestle with a pull cord and strain your back
  • They come with useful accessories like sunshades, helping to make the job of mowing the lawn much easier in the summer months.

Why Choose a Riding Mower for Hills?

In addition to the advantages mentioned above, riding mowers are an especially good choice for lawns that are sloped, hilly or uneven.

  • They are powerful and durable, able to take the strain of less even terrain.
  • Riding lawn mowers can do the job much faster than a regular push mower.
  • They make it much easier to mow difficult terrain, where the risk of strains, overexertion or injury are higher.
  • They make a job that usually involves taxing manual labor easy, relaxing and even fun.

Now that we have answered the "why", you should also know when is the best time to buy a riding lawn mower.

8 Best Riding Lawn Mower For Hills For 2021 Reviews

Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

Source: Amazon

If you want a reliable and durable riding lawn mower, it’s a must to try this Hydrostatic Husqvarna MZ61 24 HP Kawasaki Engine with 5 gallons capacity. Built to last long, heavy-duty components are run by the Kawasaki Engine that’s smooth and quiet yet powerful.

It has a zero-turn steering system that allows it to rotate on its own axis, not leaving any grass uncut and significantly cutting the mowing time. 

Pedal Operated deck lift to control the height of the cut.

The 61 inches mower deck has 3 11-gauge steel cutting deck blades with a cutting height that can be adjusted from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches. Its deck lifting system can even be adjusted from the operator's seat using the pedal-assisted cutting deck lift. 

It's wheels and ROPS will keep your grass and your self safe when mowing.

With its 6-inch Wide Caster wheels that are built to last long yet won’t hurt your grass, there will be no issues if ever you’ll be mowing steep hills.

Husqvarna MZ61 Roll-over Protection System

It also has a Roll-over protection system that can ensure you'll be safe. Feel comfortable even when working with this mower's high-back seat.

Working long hours on this mower will not be a problem especially with its 18 inches high-back seat with armrests.

They even have foam-padded hand grips and vibration dampeners that will keep you comfortable even after hours of work.

It also has a cup holder for your refreshments, especially during the hot season. Maintenance is made easy.

After work care for the machine is still a must, but it was made easier by using a removable foot pan to easily access and clean up its parts.

Everything that needs to be checked and maintained is within reach. It even has an hour meter with a service reminder to let you know when it needs to be serviced.

  • 24 HP
  • 5 gallons fuel capacity
  • Heavy-duty
  • Smooth and quiet yet powerful Kawasaki engine
  • Zero-turn steering system
  • 61 inches mower deck
  • 18 inches high-back seat, foam-padded hand grips, and vibration dampeners
  • Roll-over Protection System
  • Removable foot pan to easily access and clean up its parts
  • Can handle hills
  • Transmission doesn’t allow for heavy tow capacity
Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Riding Lawn Mower with 42-Inch Deck and 547cc Engine Tractor

Source: Amazon

Large areas and rough terrain can be a challenge to some riding mowers, but this 547cc gasoline-powered Troy-Bilt Pony 42X is built for these conditions.

Its steel 13-gauge 42 inches side discharge deck delivers a clean and even cut. 

Cut your lawn's grass to whatever height you prefer by adjusting the deck height.

It also has a 5-position deck height adjustment system with a minimum height of 1.5 inches and 3.75 inches.

This can be easily adjusted using a lever so you can achieve the grass length suitable for the current season.

It also features anti-scalp deck wheels that prevent the deck from slicing large clumps of grass.You can even mow in reverse with its operator-controlled Reverse System (OCR).

Experience a smooth ride with this mower's hydrostatic transmission and cruise control.

With its 7-speed foot-controlled hydrostatic transmission, you don’t need to clutch or stop when changing your speed.

Its hydrostatic transmission along with its cruise control creates a smooth transition when changing speed and direction.

Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Capacity

Obstructions are not a problem with its 18 inches turning radius.

Large areas with trees, flower beds, and other obstructions are also not a problem thanks to this mower 18 inches turning radius.

You can mow close enough to obstructions without using other special mowers. Long hours of work won't give you much pain because of how comfortable this mower is. 

Mowing large areas can take a while to complete, so it’s a must to be comfortable while doing the task.

This mower features a high-back seat complete with seat suspension for a more comfortable ride. Its Step-Thru frame design gives you more legroom so you can easily get on and off the mower. 

Keep yourself hydrated while mowing by bringing your water along and putting it in the built-in cup holder.

Longer working hours require more fuel and with its 3-gallon capacity, you’re sure to finish your work without refueling. Maintaining this mower is not that hard.

Mowing can take a long time, but cleaning up your machine doesn’t have to eat more time! With its integrated deck wash system, cleaning up will no longer be a chore.

  • 42 inches mower deck
  • 5-position deck height system
  • Anti-scalp wheels to protect your lawn
  • 7-speed hydrostatic transmission with cruise control for a smooth change in speed and direction
  • Can mow in reverse with its OCR
  • 18 inches turning radius
  • Cup holder
  • 3-gallon fuel capacity
  • Can be uncomfortable to ride
Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower RY48111

Source: Amazon

If you want a green alternative to the usual gas-powered mowers that can handle hills with 10-15% incline, this 100Ah electric Ryobi Riding Lawn Mower is perfect for you.

It is equipped with two 38 inches blade decks that can be easily adjusted in 12 positions.

Achieve your desired grass length by adjusting the height from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches using the lever. Maintenance is way easier than other traditional mowers.

Since it is battery powered, it does not need as much maintenance, unlike the other traditional mowers.

There’s no need to rinse the mower, change the belts, spark plugs, or filters. It also doesn’t have gas fumes. The mowers runtime can reach up to 2.5 hours or 2.5 acres per charge.  

You can mow even during the night without disturbing your neighbors. If you have neighbors close by, you won’t have to worry about the noise this mower will create. 

It cuts quietly and only emits 70 dB. Such feature is perfect for nighttime mowing, plus it has an LED headlight to help you see if there are obstructions.

Mowing in reverse can be done with just the press of a button.

Ryobi RY48111 Additional Features

Other notable features are its cruise control that makes mowing convenient for you, and its ability to mow in reverse using the reverse button.

Although some users reported that it’s inconvenient to always search for the button whenever you have to change from forward to reverse and vice versa. 

Its seat is quite comfortable and can easily be adjusted. Working while using your phone won’t be a problem since it has a media holder and a USB charger too. 

Do not expect a smooth ride, as some users have said the ride can be bumpy, plus the blades have lower power compared to other mowers.

  • Can handle hills with 10-15% incline
  • 38 inches blade decks that can be adjusted to 12 positions
  • Low maintenance
  • Doesn’t make that much noise
  • Can mow in reverse
  • USB charger, cup holder, media holder
  • Ride can be bumpy
  • Lower powered blades
  • Searching for the reverse/forward button can be inconvenient
Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 27 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

Source: Amazon

Want to complete your mowing in no time?

This hydrostatic Husqvarna MZ61 powered by 27 HP Briggs & Stratton gasoline engine can mow 4.2 acres per hour with a maximum speed of 8.5mph! 

Its 61 inches mower deck allows you to discharge clippings, mulch or bag them with a 9-bushel triple bag collection. 

Achieve the grass height you prefer with it's adjustable deck lift. With this mower, you’ll definitely be able to get the most precise grass length you want. 

It has a 12-position cut height from 1.5 inches up to 4.5 inches. Because it’s pedal-assisted, adjusting the deck lift will be easy even from the operator’s seat. 

Since it's a zero-turn riding mower you can turn smoothly and at the same time cut the grass at the same time,  significantly cutting your work time.

It has 6-inch wide unmarked front caster wheels that help it turn smoothly. Sliding downhills is possible so plan your route wisely.

The 12x10x10 back wheels, on the other hand, are sturdy enough and keep the mower balanced.

Husqvarna MZ61 Weight Shift

Although, you have to always plan your route since this mower can handle uphills but has the tendency to slide on downhill paths because of the weight shift.

Maintaining a mower can sometimes be a problem, luckily this mower allows you to easily reach service points. It even has a digital hour meter equipped with a pre-programmed service interval. 

The Husqvarna MZ61 is not only known for its speed, but it’s also known for its comfort. It has a high-back seat with foam-padded hand grips and armrest to keep you comfortable while working. 

They even added vibration dampeners for a more comfortable ride especially during the long hours of work. 

It also has a cup holder to store your water and keep you hydrated especially when it’s hot, and steering levers that can be adjusted depending on who will be using the mower.

  • Can mow 4.2 acres per hour
  • Maximum speed of 8.5mph
  • 61 inches mower deck
  • 12-position deck height
  • Zero-turn riding mower
  • High-back seat with foam-padded hand grips for additional comfort
  • Vibration dampeners
  • Adjustable steering levers
  • Has the tendency to slide on downhill paths
Troy-Bilt 540cc Briggs & Stratton Intek Automatic 46-Inch Riding Lawnmower

Source: Amazon

Slopes and hills are nothing to this 540cc Briggs & Stratton powered Troy-Bilt Lawn Mower.

Built for large areas, this 46-inch side-discharge mower has 15” x 20” wheels that can reach up to 5.2mph. It has a CVT automatic transmission that ensures a smooth ride. 

Mowing in reverse is possible in this mower and it features 5 different cutting height positions that let you choose how short or long you want the grass. 

Have a powerful yet comfortable mower with this Troy-Bilt riding mower.

Power and comfort go hand-in-hand in this mower, it has a mid-back padded seat for comfort and a soft touch steering wheel to make your work easier.

With its Step-Thru design, you’ll have enhanced legroom and can easily get in and out of the mower from either side.

Even the maintenance of this machine is an easy task since its desk wash function is easy to use and is very effective.

  • Built for large areas
  • 540cc Engine
  • Speed can reach 5.2 mph
  • 46 inches mower deck
  • CVT automatic transmission for  smoother transmission
  • Mid-back padded seat, soft touch steering wheel, and Step-Thru frame design for added comfort.
  • CVT transmission causes a jerky ride
Husqvarna TS354XD (54-inches) 26HP Kohler Lawn Tractor 960430290

Source: Amazon

Large areas with rough terrain and sloppy hills can be a pain to mow especially if you do not have the right machine.

The Husqvarna TS354XD gasoline-powered 26 HP Kohler V-Twin 7000 Series engine is one of the riding lawn mowers built for these tricky terrains.

ClearCut design cutting deck for a longer-lasting and tougher cut.

It features a 54 inches ClearCut fabricated cutting deck with 10-gauge steel with welded reinforcement for a longer-lasting and tougher cut.

A switch on the control panel easily engages the blade which ensures fast mowing anytime.

It also has four anti-scalp wheels to make sure you don’t cut too much grass and expose the earth.

Wider tires for more demanding operations. Since it’s expected to be used in more demanding operations, its rear tires are wider for tougher usage without overheating. 

It also has an electrical locking differential that gives additional traction for steep slopes and wet terrains.

Husqvarna TS354XD Additional Features

Speed and direction are controlled using a pedal-operated hydrostat transmission that allows the operator to control the mower with his two hands.

Its cruise control feature also helps maintain its speed even on rough terrain. It promises a comfortable ride with its high back seat and armrests. 

For a more comfortable ride, it has a high back seat with armrests and a comfortable and angled steering wheel.

LED headlights are also present in this mower, it allows you to have 50% more lighted area compared to the traditional incandescent light.

Maintaining and clean the underside of the mower is made easier with its deck wash port.

Maintaining this mower is made easier with its transparent fuel level indicator where you can easily check its fuel level(4 gallons tank).

It also has an Ammeter for its charging system status and an Hour meter to check the hours used.

Cleaning it is also made easier with its deck wash port where you can clean the underside of the mower by connecting the water hose to the port.

  • Can handle rough terrains
  • 54 inches ClearCut mower deck
  • Four anti scalp wheels to protect your lawn
  • Electrical locking differential for added traction
  • Pedal-operated hydrostat transmission
  • LED headlight
  • 4 gallons fuel capacity
  • Transparent fuel level indicator
  • Ammeter and Hour meter
  • Can get a little loud
Swisher ZTR2766BS Response 27 HP 66-Inch B&S ZTR Mower

Source: Amazon

Looking for a quick mower that gives an even and nice cut? This Swisher ZTR2766BS Response has both the speed and the power you’re looking for.

Equipped with a 27 HP Briggs & Stratton engine with 66" 11-gauge fabricated cutting deck, you can easily mow 2.75 acres in a little over an hour. 

Get the grass height you prefer with its foot assisted deck lift. It has 3 gator mulching blades that are lowered using a foot assisted deck lift. 

There are also 8 height options to choose from and the height ranges from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches. You’ll definitely get a precise grass height that you want. 

This mower lets you change speed and directions, and maneuver around obstacles easily. With its Hydro Gear 2800 hydrostatic transmissions, you can easily change speed and directions.

Plus it’s a zero-turn riding mower, which you can easily maneuver and even make a 360-degree turn.

This also ensures that you’ll never miss a patch of grass even when turning, lessening your work time. 

Its fuel tank can hold 8 gallons of gasoline allowing you to work for a longer period of time without refueling.

Hilly and rougher areas are also not a challenge for this automatic mower, it can easily pass through them and cut the grass effectively.

  • 27 HP Engine
  • 66 inches mower deck
  • Can mow 2.75 acres in a little over an hour
  • 8 deck height positions to choose from
  • Can easily change speed and directions with its Hydro Gear 2800
  • Zero-turn riding mower
  • 8 gallons fuel tank capacity
  • Too expensive
Troy-Bilt 382cc 30-Inch Premium Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower

Source: Amazon

Storing riding lawn mowers can be a challenge especially if you do not have enough space. So for medium-sized and flat landscape, the Troy-Bilt 382cc OHV 30-Inch Premium Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower is the one to purchase.

This entry-level mower is very easy to store and can fit in your garage or even in your shed. Reach tight spaces with its 30 inches cutting deck.

It features a 30 inches cutting deck with a 5-position adjustable blade that can be engaged easily using a lever.

Although smaller than other mowers, its ability to reach tight spaces and speed up to 4.25 mph makes up for its size.

It is controlled using a 13 inches soft grip steering wheel and has a 6-speed transmission. Its mid-back padded seat adds comfort to the operator, and it also has a cup holder. 

A quick dusting off with a leaf blower can work for this mower, but it also has a deck wash connection although some users had difficulty removing loose cuts and deposits.

The mower cannot handle slopes as well as the other mowers in the list.

With its size and weight, it’s expected that it won’t be able to handle slope that much. It’s really more suitable for a flat and even terrain.

  • 382cc OHV Engine
  • Entry-level mower that’s easy to store
  • 30 inches cutting deck
  • 5-position height option
  • 6-speed transmission
  • Cannot handle slopes

Best Riding Lawn Mower for Hills 2021 WINNER

Best Rated Riding Lawn Mower For Hills
Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

Source: Amazon

Have you decided on what Riding Lawn Mower to buy? If you’re looking for a riding lawn mower you can use for a long time and will work well on steep hills, we recommend buying the Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower.

Its engine is powerful yet works smoothly and quietly. It’s also built to last long and longer with proper maintenance.

How to Use the Best Riding Lawn Mower

Here’s how to use a riding mower to mow your lawn for the first time.

    Check the gas and oil levels and add any fluids as instructed in the manual.
  1. Sit in position on the seat of the mower and start the engine. A manual model may require you to press on the brake and clutch as you activate the ignition in order to start the engine.

    Automatic and hydrostatic models will start when you turn the key or switch on the ignition, just like an automatic vehicle.
  2. Drive to where you want to start cutting your grass and set the blades to your preferred cutting height. When you are ready, touch the blade engagement lever or switch to start the blades.
  3. Mow your lawn, steering as you go. Make slightly overlapping paths as you progress. 

You can also check the following video to get the full details of using a riding mower efficiently on a sloping land

Accessories for Riding Lawn Mowers

  • Stripe kits - If you want to get those stripes you see on sports fields, you can attach a striping kit to your riding lawn mower.

    It’s basically a roller that bends the grass in either direction as you make your paths, and it leaves a beautiful manicured result.
  • Mulcher – Mulcher attachments make lawn maintenance a breeze, mulching leaves and grass as you mow and saving you from having to bag it all.

    Some riding mowers come with a mulcher, but most offer them as a separate attachment.
  • Grass catcher – You can also get separate grass catching attachments for riding mowers, so you clean up as you go, making this chore even easier.

    It’s a great way to keep a clean lawn and capture organic materials for composting.

Riding Lawn Mower Safety Tips

Stay safe while using the best riding lawn mower by:

  • Wearing protective eyewear.
  • Mowing only in daylight hours when visibility is good.
  • Removing obstacles from the lawn first, such as children’s toys, rocks, and pet toys.
  • Keeping young children and pets out of the mowing area.
  • Always keeping all four wheels on the ground.
  • Taking hills and uneven ground slowly and carefully, even if you are using the best riding mower for hills.
  • Never leaving the mower unattended or switched on.
  • Turning off the mower when crossing pavements or driveways.
  • Leaving safety settings on.
  • Not repairing a mower while it is running.
  • Staying clear of the engine. They get incredibly hot while running and can stay hot for some time after being switched off.
  • Always reading and adhering to the instruction manual.

How to Maintain and Store Your Riding Lawn Mower

How to Maintain and Store Your Riding Lawn Mower?

Source: Amazon

Maintaining and storing your riding lawn mower properly will help it last longer and maintain great performance. Here’s what to do.

  • Clean – Use compressed air, a vacuum or a leaf blower to remove grass, leaves, debris and dust from the mower.

    Do this after every use of the mower through the season.
  • Refuel – When storing the riding mower for the winter, drain the fuel from the tank or use fuel that has a long-lasting fuel preservative in it.

    Fuel degrades over 4-6 months, and releases moisture that causes corrosion in the engine. Be sure to follow hazardous waste disposal regulations for old fuel.
  • Oil filters – Each season, change the oil and oil filter. You need to make sure you are using the right oil for your mower. If you live in a particularly dusty area, you may need to do this again midway through the season.

    Wipe up any spills on the engine and check oil levels before you run your mower.
  • Air filters – Clean or replace your air filter at the beginning of the season. Your manual should tell you how often you can reuse your filter, as reusable filters can be washed with soap and water a number of times before they need replacing.
  • Spark plugs – Spark plugs should be replaced after 25 hours of use. This will help the mower start smoother and run well.
  • Tires – Make sure the tires are in good condition and are properly inflated according to the manual.
  • Blades You can sharpen the blades on your own or have it professionally sharpened and balanced. This is recommended for safety purposes.
  • Store – Cover your riding mower with a dust sheet and store it in a shed or garage where it is protected from the elements.

Now it’s Time to Buy the Best Riding Mower for Hills!

We hope our reviews as well as our safety, use, maintenance and storage tips helped you find the right riding lawn mower for your yard! 

Remember, the best riding lawn mower for hills is on that offers a powerful engine and hydrostatic or automatic transmission along with a robust design and a low profile to ensure it doesn’t slip or slide.

They work best for bigger lawns. Should you need one for small to medium size yards, then check out our best corded electric lawn mower review.

We hope you enjoy using your choice of the best riding lawn mower for hills!

Best riding lawn mower for hills

About the Author Pat Moreno

Pat is our gardening tool expert here at Sumo Gardener. Working for many years as a private and commercial landscaper, Pat has used almost every type of gardening tool there is. Along with a vast knowledge for types of plants and putting together an amazing looking and maintainable garden, Pat developed a passion for gardening tools as he found that using the right tools vastly improved the ease and outcome of any landscaping job he undertook. When spending hours, days or years using a particular tool, you want to make sure you’ve got the best one for the job, and Pat is the right guy to guide us to the best gardening tools.

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