The Best Riding Lawn Mowers for Hills in 2023

No matter what time of year it is, having a perfect lawn is always a top priority for homeowners. However, if your lawn has hilly terrain, then using a standard push mower can be quite challenging. Although a riding lawn mower is not mandatory to own if you have a small hill on your property, it can make the job of cutting your grass much easier.

It can be tough to find the best riding lawn mower for hills, especially if you’re not familiar with all the features and specifications of these machines. But that’s where we come in.

In this article, we will be discussing the best riding mowers in 2023 for a lawn with lots of hills. We will also provide tips on how to choose the right one for your needs. So, if you are interested in learning more, keep reading!

What is a Riding Lawn Mower?

A riding lawn mower is distinct from a walking lawnmower or a manual reel mower. It is a machine designed specifically to cut down on the amount of time it takes to mow huge yards. It has a seat on which you may sit and drive to trim your grass, as well as controls located behind the engine.

Because it is an industrial-size machine, a typical homeowner may believe that riding lawn mowers are difficult to use. In fact, they’re simpler to maintain and work with than push mowers thanks to their bigger engines and wider mowing decks.

A riding lawn mower is also known as a ride-on lawnmower or a lawn tractor.

Why They Are Useful

Riding lawn mowers are used to cut large grass areas quickly and efficiently. A riding lawn mower can trim lawns as little as a quarter of an acre to golf courses in size, depending on the model.

Additionally, some lawn mowers come with mulching attachments; this allows you to trim the grass and collect mulch for your soil at the same time.

Why Use A Riding Lawn Mower On Hills

Many people think that riding mowers are only for large, flat lawns. However, riding lawn mowers can actually be a great choice for hills and other rough terrain. There are a few reasons why.

First, riding mowers are more efficient than push mowers on steep hills. Push mowers require a lot of effort to push up hill, and can be difficult to control on the way back down. Riding mowers, on the other hand, do all the work for you. Just sit back and let the mower do its job.

Second, riding mowers are easier on your back and legs than push mowers. If you have a hilly lawn, you know how challenging it can be to push a heavy mower up and down inclines. A riding mower will take the strain off your body, so you can enjoy a more comfortable mowing experience.

Third, riding mowers are less likely to tip over than push mowers. If you live in a hilly area, there’s always the risk of your push mower tipping over when you’re trying to mow on a slope. Riding mowers are much more stable due to their low center of gravity, so you can mow with confidence knowing that your mower is unlikely to tip over.

Types of Riding Lawn Mowers

There are four main types of riding lawn mowers, and we’ll look at each type in depth so you can make an informed decision as to which one is right for you.

Rear-Engine Riding Lawn Mower

If you want a starter riding lawn mower, go for a rear-engine model. They’re built to improve mobility and energy by offsetting weight and strength, making them lighter. Their engines are less powerful, making them perfect for cutting grass but not for more demanding yard work.

A rear-engine riding lawn mower has an engine that is positioned on the back of the machine and typically has between 11 and 15 horsepower. One advantage to having an engine positioned behind the driver is that there is no risk of inhaling gasoline fumes.

It has a small deck, which is best suited for lawns with a few acres or less, and is safe to ride through flower beds, garden gates, and trellises. The small deck size and robust front axle also allow for more compact storage; simply park the machine on its rear deck to store it.

For homeowners with small yards, rear-engine riding lawn mowers are a cost-effective alternative. They’re also a compromise between heavier, more expensive machines and zero-turn lawnmowers.

Front-Engine Riding Lawn Mower

A front-engine riding lawn mower is great for more complex lawns. It is a life-saver if you find it difficult to mow around corners and hedges, or right up to garden fences.

This is because of the mower’s innovative design. The deck is positioned in the front and provides proper air pressure and gives a pleasant mowing experience.

Another advantage is that you don’t have to worry about your leftover grass clippings with a front-engine mower. This machine cuts grass clippings into small pieces and returns them to the earth, so there’s no need to empty it. These mulched pieces, in turn, function as natural fertilizers as they are fed back into the ground.

Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower

A zero-turn mower has a mowing deck that is placed in front of the machine rather than beneath it. Zero turns have two swiveling wheels in the front and two large rear wheels that you control using a pair of lap bars with a dual hydrostatic transmission to pivot through sharp angles.

The ZTR (Zero Turn Radius) feature of zero-turn lawn mowers gives them an edge over other riding lawn mowers in that they are extremely maneuverable and move quicker than ordinary tractors while covering a larger surface area in far less time. They also have a razor-sharp cutting ability, making them excellent for trimming around flower beds.

The average horsepower of a zero-turn mower is from 12 to 25, with engine sizes ranging from 452 to 700 cc. Some of them feature single cylindrical engines, while others have robust V-Twin engines. Single engines are more cost-effective, but they can only operate in little lawns, whereas V-Twins are best for lawns with hills.

Lawn Tractor

The positioning of the cutting deck is the main distinction between a riding lawn mower and a lawn tractor. The cutting deck on riding lawn mowers is in the front, whereas it is positioned in the middle on lawn tractors.

Lawn tractors are one of the most popular types of lawn equipment for a number of reasons. They feature powerful engines with a cutting deck width up to 48 inches, allowing them to complete any difficult yard work in a timely manner. Furthermore, because their strong motors allow them to tow attachments, they are suitable for heavy-duty use.

All lawn tractor decks are detachable, allowing you to add extra attachments. However, they are a hefty investment, and can cost up to $2,500.

Buyer’s Guide – Features to Consider

Be on the lookout for the following features when buying a riding lawn mower to use on hills.

Deck Size

It is crucial to think about the size of the mower’s deck before purchasing one. You should go for a mower with a big deck. The deck should be between 36 and 54 inches in length. If you have a small lawn, you should go for a mower with a 36-inch-wide deck or similar, so you can more easily maneuver within your yard.

If your yard has an area of more than 5 acres, buy a mower with a 42 or 50-inch wide deck. A wider cutting deck will also provide more stability when riding your lawn mower up and down a hill.

Height Adjustment

If you want to maneuver over rolling hills, you’ll need the ability to alter the deck height. It’s also critical to mow the grass to your desired length. You may wish to keep the grass tall during a drought. On the other hand, spring is a good time to cut them short.

Engine Size

When you’re going up a hill, your mower will have to power you and it upward against gravity. As a result, you’ll need a decent powerful engine to get the task done. There are many different engine sizes available, ranging from 190 to 800 cc. The slope and size of your yard will determine how strong an engine you require most.


When it comes to hills, you must think about both speed and power. When working on a lawn with few obstructions, a riding lawn mower that can go faster will be beneficial, especially when you need it to power you up hills. If you are going to encounter roadblocks along the way, however, you will need to be more accurate when mowing.

Turning and Maneuverability

Whether you’re mowing on flat ground or hills, being able to turn is crucial. Turning may be more difficult if you are working on a slope. When purchasing your lawn mower, consider how much room you’ll have to turn around while mowing your grass.

A fantastic approach to find out about a mower’s turning radius is to read product descriptions and user reviews. Remember that zero turn mowers are ideal for maneuvering, but they aren’t necessarily more safe on hills.

Weight and Center of Gravity

When selecting a riding lawn mower for hills, weight will be a key consideration. A mower that is relatively hefty will be beneficial. On the downhill stretches, which can be the most hazardous, having a lot of “grip” with this type of equipment is advantageous. These mowers’ weight helps to keep them from flipping over.

Additionally, a mower with a high center of gravity is also more likely to have this issue. Because the engine is positioned at the rear, rear-engine mowers have lower centers of gravity.

Tractors, on the other hand, have a high center of gravity. This does not negate the existence of excellent tractor-style riding lawn mowers for hills on the market. You simply need to be cautious and do extensive research before making a purchase.

Tips for Mowing on Hills

We have some tips on how to mow a hill with a riding lawn mower.

The first and most important tips is to mow up and down the hills, not side to side. This may seem counterintuitive, but it is very dangerous, as you could much more easily tip and barrel roll to the side than you can pitch forward or backward. If you’re using a push mower, then you can mow sideways.

Also, use a consistent, low speed, with your lawn mower in its lowest gear. You want to keep a constant speed and provide enough torque to the machine so that it can climb up the hill. If the hill is very steep, only mow downward, and move the mower around to the top of the hill via a less direct path.

Thirdly, make sure there is no debris anywhere on your lawn before you start mowing. Additionally, you shouldn’t mow on any slopes if there has been rain in the last few days. This will make the terrain slippery and you can get injured or the lawn mower could slide and be ineffective.

Finally, lawn tractors should not be used to mow if you have steep hills in your lawn. Their engine is in front, so the center of gravity is different for going up and down the hill. They also have a front axle that is able to pivot and tilt over a little, which then loses traction on one or both of the back wheels when coming down a slope.

Safety Tips

Using a riding lawn mower to mow hills isn’t always perfectly safe. To ensure your safety, follow these guidelines.

  • Wear the appropriate clothing and equipment. Because riding lawn mowers are so loud, ear protection is a must. Goggles or glasses should also be used.
  • Clear any obstructions from your grass so you don’t have to stop and get off your mower in the middle of it.
  • Make sure you understand how to use any safety measures and how to use the emergency brake.
  • Only one person on and operating the mower at a time.
  • Keep a consistent speed.
  • Avoid abrupt turns. Sudden turns are considerably more dangerous for both you and others around you.
  • Fully power off the mower before getting off of it.

Reviews For The Top 8 Riding Lawn Mowers For Hills

Land isn’t always flat. Sometimes, when you have a large enough lawn to justify a riding lawn mower, parts of that lawn are bumpy or even hilly. Because of this, we’ve listed the 8 best riding lawn mowers that can be used on hilly terrain. Check them out below!

#1. Husqvarna YTH18542 42 in 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Riding Mower

No products found.

The top riding lawn mower for hills on our list is the Husqvarna YTH18542 42-Inch Hydro Transmission Riding Lawn Mower. It comes recommended by the manufacturer for uneven terrain. This is a great lawn mower with an 18.5 HP, 540 CC Briggs & Stratton Intek engine and a strong flat-stock steel reinforced cutting deck. Because the control system is entirely foot operated, you can drive the hydrostatic transmission, speed, and direction using only the foot pedals – there’s no need to ever take your hands off the wheel.

The mower has a fender-mounted cutting height adjustment, an adjustable sliding seat, an ergonomic steering wheel, and a step-through for simple mounting and dismounting to provide maximum enjoyment while cutting the grass.

Husqvarna strives to make their riding mowers robust, and they are continually trying to perfect and enhance them. One of this machine’s greatest features is the Air Induction mowing system, which takes clean air from the top and bottom of the deck for smooth, efficient cutting regardless of how thick or rough the grass is. The lawn mower also has a safety switch beneath the driver’s seat, which promptly shuts off when the driver exits the seat.

#2. Troy-Bilt 30-Inch 382cc Riding Lawn Mower

No products found.

The Troy-Bilt 30-Inch 382cc Riding Lawn Mower is a great and cost effective riding lawn mower for any terrain type. This riding mower is one of the most compact models available on the market, and will save you room in your garage. It takes up about the same amount of space as a wide-cut walk-behind mower, so it’ll fit in with ease in your garage or shed and will easily go through most gates or tight areas in your yard. Although, due to its smaller size and narrower cutting deck that comes with it, we would suggest this riding lawn mower for yards of around 1.5 acres or less.

The Troy-Bilt 30-Inch mower, while small, is just as strong as the other mowers on this list, and it will be able to climb over your yard’s hilly, uneven, and rough ground. With its low to high back seats, as well as the signature vibrational-reducing Soft Touch wheel, it is effective at dampening the vibrations you might feel when riding. It also has a Shift-on-the-Go gearbox so you may change between 6 distinct mowing speeds while in the process of mowing your lawn. The attached rear hitch makes it simple to attach carts, sprayers, and spreaders, as well as an attachable mulching kit that helps you prevent thatch in your yard and returns the nutrients back into the earth by mulching your grass clippings.

#3. Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT50 FAB Riding Lawn Mower

No products found.

The Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT50 FAB is one of the finest overall riding lawn mowers available today. The XT1 is powered by a 24 HP Kohler 7000 series twin cylinder motor and features a hydrostatic transmission, which provides optimum command and control – you don’t have to worry about shifting any more, as you just push the pedal and go. The 50-inch wide, triple blade AeroForce cutting deck is one of this mower’s most appealing features. The AeroForce is built to maximize suction and airflow, resulting in less clumping during discharge and better bagging results – a more efficient cut and bagging performance.

The XT1 also has a more robust cutting system with stamped and manufactured cutting deck choices, ensuring that it stays level on its wheels over rough and hilly terrain. With its powerful engine, you can move it with ease in any driveway or lawn. It also has a small turning radius of 16 inches, and its optimized steering mechanism makes for nimble maneuvering in confined places and around turns. This model is available with a 3-year warranty on the engine and a 5-year warranty for the chassis and front axle, so you may use it as much as your grass demands. It also comes with a wide range of adaptable, all-season attachments so you can do any lawn and garden maintenance job required of you.

#4. Ryobi RY48111 Electric Riding Lawn Mower

Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower RY48111
  • Includes: (1) Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower RY48111
  • 3 Brushless motors for superior power and performance
  • Up to 2.5 hours of runtime or 2.5 acres of mowing
  • Charges through standard 120-Volt outlet
  • .

If you want a riding lawn mower that is entirely electric and does not produce fumes or require expensive gasoline, the Ryobi RY48111 Electric Riding Lawn Mower is your best option. This electric mower is powered by 48 volts, 100 Ah (amp-hour) lead acid batteries, which give the user 2.5 hours of cutting time on a single charge. On a full charge, it can run for approximately 2.5 acres before needing to be recharged. Even if your lawn is more than 2.5 acres, don’t worry; it can charge through a standard outlet in hours and be ready to use again rapidly. The three brushless motors on this mower provide enough power to work through tough, uneven spaces while being extremely quiet and cutting at 70 dB, allowing you to mow your lawn without disturbing your neighbors.

The RY48111’s reinforced, 12 gauge steel deck and sturdy structure are every match for frequent mowing sessions. Its cutting deck is 38 inches wide and has 2 sharpened steel blades, with 12 distinct manual deck adjustment settings so you can tailor your mowing to the needs of your lawn and really excel in the hills and uneven areas. This riding lawn mower has all the bells and whistles, including LED headlights so you don’t have to mow in the heat of the day, a USB phone charger, and a cruise control function.

#5. John Deere E130 42-inch Hydrostatic Riding Lawn Tractor

The John Deere E130 42-inch Hydrostatic Riding Lawn Tractor is the finest model in Deere’s renowned 100 series. The E130’s patented Edge cutting system, which includes a two-spindle, three-in-one blade system, gives it an edge over other riding lawn mowers in terms of performance and durability. It has a rolled lip for further strength and protection, as well as a deep-deck mower design that lowers the grass while also evenly distributing it and preventing build-up damage under the deck. 

This riding lawn tractor has a 22 HP V-Twin smooth running engine that is capable of handling any mowing, mulching, or bagging jobs you need it to do. It also has a cruise control foot lever, as well as several foot pedals for hydrostatic speed and direction control. The hand controls are easy to understand and use. It is also equipped with an Easy Change 30-Second Oil Change System, allowing you to change the oil swiftly and simply and get back to mowing as soon as possible.

#6. Husqvarna Z254 Zero-Turn Mower

Husqvarna is one of the world’s leading and most well-known outdoor power tool companies, and the Husqvarna Z254 Zero-Turn Mower is one of their most renowned products. This shows that the Z254 is truly the real deal, and we would even go so far as to call it the finest Zero-Turn riding lawn mower on the market. It has a 54-inch-wide cutting deck – the widest on this list – which is reinforced with heavy flat-stock steel for added strength and durability. This model is equipped with a spring-assisted lifting and lowering device, which allows the deck to be lifted and lowered with ease.

The 26 HP riding lawnmower uses cutting deck air induction mowing technology, which draws air from both the top and bottom of the cutting deck to produce a better cut by increasing grass lift. The average consumer may use this mower with ease because of the intuitive and comfy user experience, which is one of the most straightforward and pleasant lawn mowers available. It has an ergonomic touch screen right at your fingertips, a big anti-slip footrest zone, and a detachable foot plate for easy repair. A new, patent-pending automated park brake system automatically activates and deactivates as steering levers are adjusted, making this mower safer and easier to use than previously available versions and other comparable riding lawn mowers.

#7. Ariens 915223 IKON-X 52″ Zero Turn Mower

Ariens 915223 IKON-X 52" Zero Turn Mower 23hp Kawasaki FR691 Series
  • This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process includes functionality testing, basic cleaning, inspection, and repackaging. The product ships with all relevant accessories, and may arrive in a generic box

The Ariens 915223 IKON-X 52″ Zero Turn Mower is a large and strong riding mower that can easily tackle difficult, uneven, and hilly ground and high, unruly grass. It would be ideal for a business lawn mower or landscaper, as well as someone with a lot of land. It has a strong 23 HP, 726 CC Kawasaki FR V-Twin engine that is extremely robust on its large front and rear wheels. 

The cutting deck is 52 inches wide, 4.5 inches deep, and constructed of 11-gauge steel. This, as well as the full tubular steel frame and padded rear seats and armrests, ensures that you will enjoy a smooth ride on any surface in your backyard. The IKON-X has a commercial-grade 4-point dual-arm deck hanging system and dial-operated cutting height selection, for an individualized lawn mowing experience every time.

#8. Husqvarna YTH24V48 48 in. 24 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Riding Mower

No products found.

The Husqvarna YTH24V48 48 in. 24 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Riding Mower rounds out our list of the best riding lawn mowers for yards with hills and uneven terrain. This is a large and powerful mowing machine – its Intek 24 hp Briggs & Stratton V-Twin has a ReadyStart feature for easy starting and strong performance. The 48 inch reinforced cutting deck is fitted with three blades, 4 anti-scalp wheels, and an innovative air induction technology.

The YTH24V48 is also incredibly easy and comfortable to ride. It has a foot-pedal controlled hydrostatic transmission, so your hands never have to leave the steering wheel to shift gears or change directions, and a cruise control features, both of which aid in creating a safe mowing environment. It also turns in a 16 inch radius, and you can turn on the mower deck with the pull of a switch in the control panel due to its electric cutting deck engagement.


How Do You Start a Riding Lawn Mower?

Starting a riding lawn mower is simple. Just follow these five steps:

  1. Sit down on the seat – this engages the mower’s battery.
  2. Hold down your brakes – either a lever or a pedal, depending on the mower.
  3. Make sure the mower gear is in N, or Neutral. The lever can be found adjacent to the steering wheel.
  4. Set the throttle to choke. The throttle is used for choosing your mower’s speed and can be potentially identified by small pictures of a turtle or a rabbit. The choke setting should be a circle with a slash through it.
  5. Insert the key into the ignition and turn it clockwise. Hold it there for a few seconds and then release. Your riding lawn mower should be all started up!

How Often Should I Change the Oil on a Riding Lawn Mower?

The recommended frequency of changing the oil on a riding lawn mower is about once a season, or approximately every 100 hours of run time, whichever comes first.

How Much Does a Riding Lawn Mower Weigh?

On average, a riding lawn mower can weigh anywhere between 350 and 700 pounds. A zero turn mower is typically about 600 pounds. A 12 horsepower riding lawn mower weighs less on average, around 350-400 pounds, and a 24 horsepower mower would be around 500-550 pounds.


So there you have it. We have provided a buying guide and a list of 8 of the top riding lawn mowers to help you choose the best one for you and your lawn. Keep in mind that not all lawns are made equal, and finding the best mower for your particular job might take some sleuthing.

Feel free to reach out – we can help you navigate this process and find you exactly what you need! If you’re still on the fence about which mower would be right for you, we would again recommend the Husqvarna YTH18542 42-Inch Hydro Transmission Riding Lawn Mower. It is a great machine from a prestigious manufacturer and it ticks every box for your lawn and garden needs.

Photo of author
Written by Linda Chan
Linda Chan is a passionate gardener and writer with a background in horticulture and landscape design. She has over 10 years of experience working in the lawn care industry and has a deep understanding of the science and art of keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful.

Leave a Comment