Some ride on mowers are absolutely not suitable for mowing anything other than flat terrain. Be sure the mower you buy is built to handle slopes. Some can handle up to about a 15° gradient, others such as the Razorback are specifically designed for slopes much steeper. But even with one of these mowers caution should be taken. The following will provide you with some tips to help make the job a little easier and safer.
Mowing flat wet grass isn’t ideal, and mowing a wet slope is an even worse idea. Very dry grass is also not so safe and can be slippery and dangerous to mow but for different reasons. When the ground is very hard and dry, it does not provide the same grip that normal ground does ie. the tread slightly indents the ground therefore, giving more traction grip. Once you start to slip, you kick-start a chain reaction of physics principles and things can change, fast – it’s best to minimise the risk of slipping in the first place.
Set your mower to a very high cut to avoid scalping the grass.
For ride on mowers, go up and down (NOT side to side). This gives maximum traction to the drive wheels and lessens the risk of rolling. It also avoids the ‘crabbing’ that tends to happen when mowing crossways on any slope, where the heavy end of the machine keeps trying to slide downhill making slope mowing difficult.
Do a pre-mowing inspection to check for and remove any big debris or obstacles (holes, ruts, bumps, rocks, sticks/branches, etc) that could get in the way. This is particularly important if the grass is long.
The manufacturer will know exactly what their product is capable of so read the manual and follow their recommendation before getting started.
Many mowers are issued standard with a ROPS. If your mower has a ROPS that is fully up (e.g. not folded down), then you must wear the seatbelt that is provided. If you don’t have a ROPS, it is not recommended to wear a seatbelt, as this makes exiting the machine difficult should you get into trouble.
Choose a low or even the lowest gear and keep the RPMs up.
These type of ride on mowers are notoriously unstable on slopes for two reasons
Slope and brush mowers have a very low centre of gravity and are often four-wheel drive for added traction. They ‘hug’ the ground and some can even mow slopes of up to 35°. Often called ride on brush cutters, their decks are designed to efficiently process long grass, high weeds and even small trees, with mulching or rear discharge output. They’ll leave a fairly reasonable finish but are not as suitable for flat, wide areas. Their lug grip tyres may rip up the turf (however, turf tyres are often available).
TIP: Models with belt drive deck and chain assist drive are much less safe than shaft driven models. (The Razorback has No Deck Belts)
In some cases the terrain may be too steep for anything. Perhaps fence it and get some sheep or goats, or landscape it to be a wilderness area or shrubbery. How steep is too steep? If your slope gains 30cm of height every 90cm of distance it’s too steep for your average ride on mower and you need a specialist mower.
If you’re still unsure about mowing on a slope, please contact us to talk about your needs. 1800 088 567 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.