What is the Best Zero Turn Mower for Hills? — Powerful, Easy to Operate Models (2023)

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Navigating a hill with a mower can feel like quite the uphill battle – pun intended! Finding the right tool that’s both safe and powerful enough is no small feat. That’s why I rolled up my sleeves and dove deep into the world of zero-turn mowers. If you’re like me and want the best for those challenging slopes, stick around. I’ve got some top recommendations for you. Let’s tackle those hills together!

Best Overall
Ariens Edge 52in. 726 cc Zero-Turn-Radius Lawn Tractor
Editor’s Choice
Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
Ariens Edge No Background
Husqvarna Z254 No Background
The Ariens Edge zero turn tractor is perfect for inclines where you need a strong grip on the ground and excellent maneuverability. The wide deck also allows you to mow large lawns in less time than it takes with other tractors.
The Husqvarna Z254 is an excellent lawn mower because of how effective and safe it is. The mower has 26 HP, an adjustable cutting deck, and most importantly, an intuitive park brake system with automatic activation.
Best Overall
Ariens Edge 52in. 726 cc Zero-Turn-Radius Lawn Tractor
Ariens Edge No Background
The Ariens Edge zero turn tractor is perfect for inclines where you need a strong grip on the ground and excellent maneuverability. The wide deck also allows you to mow large lawns in less time than it takes with other tractors.
Editor’s Choice
Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
Husqvarna Z254 No Background
The Husqvarna Z254 is an excellent lawn mower because of how effective and safe it is. The mower has 26 HP, an adjustable cutting deck, and most importantly, an intuitive park brake system with automatic activation.

Reviews of the Best Zero Turn Mowers for Hills

1. Ariens Edge 52in. 726 cc Zero-Turn-Radius Lawn Tractor

I discovered that the Ariens Edge is more than just an efficient mower. It is also a tough, durable, zero turn lawn mower with a reinforced 11-gauge steel mower deck. The cutting deck is 52 in. large, allowing you to cover more ground in less time.

The zero turn mower for hills also has a powerful 726cc engine that can climb inclines, and a high-back seat with seat springs and sealed ball bearings. These ensure that you’ll enjoy a smooth ride even in the bumpiest hills. I was also fond of the intuitive Edge controls and the steering wheel that helped us maneuver around smaller areas.

What I Like

What I Don’t Like

2. Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

The Husqvarna Z254 is a pricey hydrostatic zero turn riding mower, but it’s also one of the best zero turn mowers to get the job done. This riding lawn mower has a 26 HP engine power that can reach top speeds of 6.5 mph on flat surfaces. When using this mower on hills, I discovered a smooth and efficient cutting experience.

The Husqvarna zero turn mower also has a wide cutting deck that makes mowing much quicker and a side discharge mechanism for safety. I also loved the lawn mower because of its patent-pending park brake system with automatic activation and deactivation.

What I Like

What I Don’t Like

3. Craftsman 17ARFACT091 46-Inch Hydrostatic Gas Zero Turn Mower

One feature that makes the Craftsman 17ARFACT091 hydrostatic zero turn riding lawn mower stand out is its v twin engine. The v twin engine churns out 23 HP, and doesn’t need a prime or choke to get going. The zero-turn radial mower also has excellent maneuverability, thanks to its zero turn radius.

Other great qualities include a robust cutting frame, a large deck size, adjustable cutting heights, and two-directional cutting. This riding tractor can accommodate an optional mulching kit and bagger to give you the perfect mowing conditions. And because it has a high seat with spring and ball bearing shock absorbers, every ride is smooth and comfortable.

What I Like

What I Don’t Like

4. Husqvarna Z14242 in. 17 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

The Husqvarna Z14242 is in such high demand that it regularly runs out of stock on Amazon. Like other reliable zero turn lawn mowers for hills, this mower has a wide cutting deck, strong body, and air induction features. The 17 HP engine is powerful enough to climb inclines with ease, and the side discharge mechanism keeps flying debris to a minimum.

The cutting width is 42 inches, large enough to clear most lawns in no time. Like most Husqvarna turn mowers for hills, this model can be fitted with a mulcher or bagging kit for a smoother workflow.

What I Like

What I Don’t Like

5. Husqvarna Z254F 747cc Kohler Engine

While reviewing the best zero turn mower for hills, I found the Husqvarna Z254F. It’s very similar to the Husqvana, but it has an electric clutch deck engagement. Other incredible features of this zero turn mower are the large 3-blade cutting deck, 24 HP twin engine, and the cutting edge design.

I preferred the Z254 to other zero turn mowers because of its ergonomic and comfortable design. It has a high back seat with tons of shock-absorbing features, a large gas tank for longer mowing periods, and an adjustable deck. The product also has a 2-year warranty.

What I Like

What I Don’t Like

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

During the research, I found that this zero turn mower costs more than most other riding mowers. However, it is also one of the fastest-selling products on Amazon. The zero turn mower has premium features like a 24 HP Kawasaki engine, high ground speeds, and a roll-over protection system.

Besides the high-rated Kawasaki engine, the Husqvarna MZ61 zero turn mower also features an 11-gauge steel cutting deck, a large 61-inch cut, and an ergonomic deck lift system. I also loved that the clippings can be discarded, bagged, or mulched, thanks to the multi-accessory compatibility.

What I Like

What I Don’t Like

7. Ariens IKON X 52 inch 23 HP (Kawasaki) Zero Turn Mower 915267

The Ariens IKON X is a powerful zero turn mower capable of reaching a speed of 6 mph. The riding mower has an advanced airflow system for improved cutting performance and a superwide deck for efficiency.

I love the plush high back seat with armrest because it keeps riders comfortable while cutting. I also like that the deck is fully adjustable with 13 different positions and quarter-inch increments. They make cutting on hills an absolute breeze.

One thing I didn’t like about the Ariens IKON zero turn mower is that it performs poorly on wet grass; the mud and debris can clog up the blades.

What I Like

What I Don’t Like

8. Craftsman Z525 Zero Turn Gas Powered Lawn Mower, Red

As far as riding lawn tractors go, the Craftsman Z525 is one of the best products out there. It has a powerful 679 cc engine that provides enough power for most inclines. The engine also has an autochoke feature that delivers quick and efficient starts, and a smooth transmission for easy speed changes.

I also love the reinforced cutting deck and the ability to mow in reverse. Two other cool features are the 360 degree turning radius and a supportive high-back seat. The Craftsman also has an included deck wash that makes cleaning the underside effortless.

What I Like

What I Don’t Like

9. Troy-Bilt 382cc 30-Inch Premium Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower

The Troy Bilt riding tractor isn’t one of the zero turn mowers, but it is highly efficient on hills. As far as lawn mowers go, this machine gets the job done with a powerful 382 cc engine and a modest but competent 30 inch cutting deck. The lawn mower features 5 adjustable settings for versatility while cutting. It will not exhibit any Troy Bilt lawn mower problem with this adjustable extra feature. 

The Troy Bilt 382cc 30-Inch Riding Lawn Mower has a large capacity 1.3-gallon tank with an adjustable mower deck and a manual power take-off. I also loved the adjustable seat and ergonomic steering wheel because they provided tons of comfort. The manufacturer offers a 2-year warranty for all their riding lawn mowers.

What I Like

What I Don’t Like

10. Ariens Edge 34 inch 19 HP (Kohler) Zero Turn Mower 915243

During the search for the best zero turn mowers, I discovered that the Ariens Edge 34 Inch Zero Turn Mower is precise and efficient. The machine has a modest cutting width that’s just enough to get the job done. It also has a powerful Kohler engine that can drive it up most inclines.

The product also happens to be one of the cheapest available zero-turn mowers, which means you can get all these features for a smaller price. I was surprised by its performance because even though it’s affordable, the mower reviews showed that the blades were sharp enough, and all features worked as expected. I was particularly impressed that it ships with all relevant accessories.

(For another affordable lawn mower option, see the Scag Patriot model we reviewed.)

What I Like

What I Don’t Like

Zero Turn Mowers for Hills Buyer’s Guide

Size and Build

Size and build are on top of the list for zero turn mowers for steep inclines. The size has a direct effect on how well you can cut because heavier zero turn mowers will climb the incline with more difficulty. A powerful engine goes a long way to ensure that the machine can tame inclines. But the lighter your mower, the easier it is to drive up the inclines.

When considering build, the transmission [1] of zero turn mowers is also important. Mowers with hydrostatic transmission tend to handle shifts better. You can change gears and reach higher speeds with ease. However, other kinds of transmission will give you little kickback. Besides the obvious discomfort associated with this, kickbacks are also less energy efficient, which means climbing the incline will be more difficult,

Weight distribution on a z turn mower is critical to usability and overall rider safety. You want your mower’s weight to be evenly distributed to improve stability and prevent flipping. When the weight is concentrated on one side, the mower becomes imbalanced, even if you don’t notice it. This also makes it much easier to fall to the side and injure the rider. More on mower safety under “Safety features and comfort” below.

One more thing I love to consider is the tire build. When mowing hills, you need tires with traction because they facilitate a more efficient power delivery. Traction tires will also keep you glued to the ground, reducing the possibility of a flip. When going down the list of conditions for getting a zero turn mower for hills, it’s critical to consider the size and build in all these areas.

Engine Power and Type

You may have noticed that some of the products above are rated in HP (Horse Power) while others are rated in CC. During the reviews, I found that even though these metrics refer to overall engine power, manufacturers often use them to describe the engine type.

Two of the most popular engines for zero turn mowers are HP Briggs & Stratton and Troy Bilt. You don’t need to worry about the kind of engine in your lawn mower, for the most part. As long as it delivers enough power and meets your needs, you’re good to go (whether it’s Briggs and Stratton or Troy-Bilt).

When deciding if the mower meets your needs, consider the engine rating. The best zero turn mower for inclines should have at least 17 HP Briggs and Stratton engine, or its equivalent. This ensures that it’s powerful enough to drive the mower, rider, and the accompanying accessories up the hill; the higher the mower’s rating, the better for performance. Some mowers for hills have lower power ratings and still get the job done.

I found that the most powerful mowers for inclines can reach top speeds of up to 6.5 mph. Most users won’t need to go that fast because slower is always better when mowing grass.

However, it helps to know that your mower has more power in the engine if you ever need it. Higher top speeds are also crucial for climbing steep inclines. The faster your mower, the steeper the incline it can tame.

(For more powerful models, you can check our review of top-performing commercial-grade zero turn mower here)

Cutting Deck

Decks are the crux of a zero turn mower. The best looking zero turn mowers are worthless if the cutting deck isn’t up to snuff. Some of the factors to consider when evaluating the decks are adjustable height, width, ease of maintenance, and air induction system.

The air induction system facilitates the smooth flow of air through the decks, and improves cutting efficiency. Unfortunately, not all lawn mowers have air induction systems, and that’s one of the features that separates premium brands from regular ones.

The height of cutting decks is also critical to their performance and ease of use. Depending on your needs, you may want your grass to be lower or higher. You may even want some places to be higher than others. With adjustable decks, you can achieve this. I love the design on mowers like the Ariens IKON because the deck can be adjusted in small increments.

Most mower decks are easy to clean. They usually have slots where you can attach a hose and run water through the deck. This does most of the work for you. The ease of cleaning is particularly important when you’re mowing areas with moist soil. A damp yard tends to clog up the mowing decks, making your entire operation slow and inefficient.

If you can, I recommend mowing in dry weather for the best possible result. If that’s not an option, be sure to have a hose ready so you can clean the deck as needed.

Ease of Use

The majority of the mowers I evaluated are designed for user-friendly operation. Their controls are conveniently located within easy reach, allowing you to adjust the deck height, change speeds, or modify your seat position by pulling a lever or utilizing foot controls. This intuitive setup enables you to make necessary adjustments without diverting your attention from the task.

Ease of use also extends to other features, like the parking brakes, the ease of turning, and maintenance. Brakes are essential components of riding mowers, and even though I don’t use them as often, they can mean the difference between a pleasant afternoon and a nightmare.

For example, the Husqvarna Z254 has a patent-pending park brake that automatically comes on or off as you move the steering levers. This design is so great because it makes things easier for the rider. You no longer have to remember turning on the break because of the automatic activation. It also comes in handy when you have unexpected interruptions, like a pet running across the yard, or example.

Finally, it’s important to understand the ease of assembly of your riding mower. The product will most likely come unassembled with detailed instructions on how to proceed. These instructions are usually straightforward — you can make the choice to assemble the mower without instructions. However, these reviews show that some mowers can be tough to assemble, reducing their ease of use.

(For a clean and more manicured lawn, you can also check the best riding mower with bagger here)

Safety Features and Comfort

Safety and comfort often go hand-in-hand where riding mowers are concerned whether it is a zero-turn mower or a powerful rear engine riding mower. For example, a safety feature like effective brakes works well when it’s within reaching distance of the seat.

While I was on the seat, be sure to get a riding tractor with a high-back seat. These offer the best possible comfort and support for your lower back. If you have a large yard and will be on your mower for a long time, convenience should be on top of your priority list.

Besides a high-back seat, other cool features to look out for include shock absorption and seat controls. Manufacturers shock-proof their seats by using a combination of springs and ball bearings. These ensure that you’ll enjoy a smooth ride, regardless of the terrain. Adjustable seats also enable you to raise or lower your seating level.

One safety feature that I love is the side discharge mechanism. It addressed safety concerns because mowers with rear discharge are dangerous because they tend to launch debris where you can’t see. This makes it difficult to turn off the mower in time to prevent a zero-turn mower accident. But with side discharge, you’re pointing in a direction that can be easily monitored and can potentially reduce the hazard of using a zeron turn lawn mower

Type of Zero Turn Mower

When choosing a zero turn mower, you have to think about the manufacturer. The list features the best brands on the market, from Ariens to Husqvarna. These are the most popular mower brands, and they also tend to be the most reliable.

Besides the assurance of durability, top manufacturers also offer a warranty on their products. This way, you can order a replacement part at no cost to you. Besides Ariens and Husqvarna, other reputable zero turn mower brands include Troy-Bilt, Craftsman John Deere, Ryobi, and Cub Cadet.

(For bigger work area, here are the best zero turn mower for 1-acre job site)

How Does a Zero Turn Mower for Hills Work

If you’ve ever used a riding mower such as the Ferris mower, the odds are that you’re already familiar with how these machines work. The engine is responsible for most of the propulsion and that’s why it’s necessary to have a powerful engine.

The tires also play a critical role because they help to maintain traction and keep the mower glued to the ground. High grip tires plus a powerful engine makes the best mower for hills.

Maintaining a Zero Turn Mower for Hills

Maintaining a zero turn mower can be simple if you know what to do. You can begin by checking the air filter. Air filters become easily clogged, especially with mowers that launch dirt and debris all day. Clean the filter regularly, and replace it when necessary.

It’s also important to sharpen your blades. They will dull over time, and mowing a lawn with debris and stones will only make it worse. I recommend sharpening your blade up to 3 times a year. If you don’t have experience with sharpening mower blades, don’t hesitate to contact a professional. 

You should also observe incidents when your zero turn mower drive belt system keeps coming off, and know how to troubleshoot it. This will ensure a better user experience with your lawn mower, too. 


Do zero turn mowers work well on hills?

Yes, some zero turn mowers work well on hills. However, this depends on the manufacturer and specifications of the mower. Mowers for hills usually have high-grip wheels, powerful engines, and other safety features. However, it’s important to remember that mowing on hills is quite dangerous and should be handled with care.

How steep of a hill can a zero turn mower?

Zero turn mowers can climb inclines of up to 15 degrees on average. However, how steep a zero turn mower can cut is usually specified in the owner’s manual or guide. Most brands can’t handle inclines of more than 15 degrees; anything steeper will task the engine and put the rider at risk.

Top Pick For a Zero Turn Mower for Hills: Ariens Edge 52in. 726 cc Zero-Turn-Radius Lawn Tractor

The Ariens Edge is the best zero turn mower for hills. The mower delivers an exceptional cutting experience, thanks to the large deck size and sharp turning radius. I also loved safety features like the side-discharge mechanism and reactive brakes. They allow users to cut their grass without accidents.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson
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