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5 Best Zero-Turn Mowers for Hills: A Comparison of the Top Models (Fall 2022)

We've picked the five best zero-turn mowers for hills, analyzed their pros and cons, and compiled a buying guide to help you make an informed choice.
Last updatedLast updated: September 06, 2022
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If you have a hilly lawn, you know that mowing can be a real challenge. The wrong mower can leave your lawn looking patchy and uneven. But with the right mower, your lawn will look fantastic all season long.

To help you choose, we’ve put together a list of the five best zero-turn mowers for hills. We’ve compared them based on factors such as engine power, cutting width, and price. In addition to those factors, we paid close attention to their maneuverability, durability, and ease of use. A mower that is easy to maneuver around obstacles will save you time and frustration. It should also be quite durable to stand up to the wear and tear of rough terrain.

Top 5 Zero Turn Mowers for Hills Review 2022

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Editor’s Choice

DEWALT Z148

Features
  • Power: 23 HP
  • Cutting width: 48 in
  • Cutting height: not specified
  • Fuel tank capacity: 5.5 gal.
  • Warranty: 4-year

More features: 9 mph, dual Commercial Grade ZT-3100 transmissions, ultrawide foot pan, 17-position height adjustment

The DEWALT Z148 is our top pick for the best zero-turn mower for hills. It is a powerful and durable machine that can handle any terrain. The 23 HP Kawasaki FR Series engine provides plenty of power to tackle even the most challenging hills. The dual commercial-grade ZT-3100 transmission makes this mower extremely maneuverable. The 10-gauge deck is reinforced for added durability, and the caster wheels are offset for easy maneuvering around obstacles. The 17-position deck height adjustment allows you to customize the mower to your lawn. The impact-absorbing, automotive-inspired seat provides a comfortable ride even during long hours of operation. The ultrawide foot pan and adjustable lap bars make this mower easy to operate. The DEWALT Z148 comes with a 4-year warranty, making it a great choice for those who want a long-lasting investment. We found that the lawnmower also comes with a Pro Support Hub. The Hub provides access to online manuals, how-to videos, and 24/7 customer support. This is a great resource for anyone who wants to make sure they are using their mower correctly. It is also a great way to get help if you run into any problems while using your mower.

The DEWALT Z148 is pretty similar with its cousin, the DEWALT Z160. Both of them are a step down from the popular Z260 but are still solid options. The Z260 has a few additional features that make it a step up from the Z148. The first is the 21-position deck height adjustment. This allows you to get a closer cut on your lawn. The second is the gel-filled, automotive-inspired seat. This provides even more comfort during long hours of operation. The third is the addition of a cup holder and phone holder. These are great for those who want to stay hydrated and connected while they mow. The DEWALT Z148 and Z160 are both perfect for part time lawn care or for people with small to medium sized lawns between 4 and 10 acres. Otherwise, you would be better off adding $1000 on your budget to get the beastly Z260.

What makes it stand out?

  • Suitable for commercial use
  • Outstanding warranty and additional services
  • Hydrostatic transmission and wide wheels for smooth riding
  • Large capacity fuel tank

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • Rather heavy at over 1,000 lbs.
  • The deck width is quite average
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Upgrade Pick

Husqvarna MZ61

Features
  • Power: 27 HP
  • Cutting width: 61 in.
  • Cutting height: 1.5 in. – 4.5 in.
  • Fuel tank capacity: 5 gal.
  • Warranty: 4-year

More features: 8.5 mph, hydrostatic  transmission, 12-step cutting height, fabricated 11-gauge steel cutting deck, 9-bushel triple bag collection system

The Husqvarna MZ61 is our Upgrade pick for the best zero-turn mower for hills. It is a powerful and durable machine that offers an excellent cutting width. The 61-inch cutting width makes this mower perfect for those who have a lot of ground to cover. The 11-gauge steel cutting deck is reinforced for added durability, and the hydrostatic transmission makes this mower extremely maneuverable. The ROPS system provides added safety, and the 12-step cutting height allows you to customize the mower to your lawn. The high-back seat with armrests and foam-padded hand grips provide a comfortable ride even during long hours of operation. We also liked that the Husqvarna MZ61 comes with a 9-bushel triple bag collection system. This system allows you to collect up to three times the amount of grass clippings in one go. This is a great feature for those who have a lot of ground to cover. The triple bag system also makes it easy to empty the bags, so you don’t have to stop and empty them as often. The mower has a top speed of 8.5 mph, which makes it easy to get the job done in a timely manner. It also comes with a 4-year warranty, making it a great choice for those who want a long-lasting investment.

We found that the Husqvarna MZ61 has a lot of similarities with the equally popular MZT61. It has the same cutting width and fuel tank capacity. It also uses a hydrostatic transmission and has a roll-over protection system. The only difference between the two mowers is their engines. The MZ61 has a 27 hp Briggs & Bratton engine while the MZT61 has a 24 hp Kawasaki engine. The MZT61 is more of an entry-level zero turn mower while the MZ61 is better suited for heavy-duty use because of its powerful engine. Both mowers offer maximum comfort and are easy to control but the MZ61 offers unmatched power and speed that will have you finishing your projects in no time.

What makes it special?

  • Wide cutting deck
  • Powerful 27 hp engine
  • Durable cutting deck
  • High back seat with armrests
  • Foam-padded grips
  • Vibration dampeners
  • Hydrostatic transmission
  • Large capacity fuel tank
  • Relatively quiet operation

What cons did we find?

  • Quite pricey
  • Could have a better traction
  • Not a lot of suspension
RELATED: 6 Best Zero Turn Mowers with Which You Won’t Miss an Inch! (Fall 2022)
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Features
  • Power: 23 HP
  • Cutting width: 50 in.
  • Cutting height: 1 in. – 4.5 in.
  • Fuel tank capacity: 3.5 gal.
  • Warranty: 4-year

More features: Kawasaki FR691V twin-cylinder OHV engine, 7.5 MPH forward and 3.5 MPH reverse speed, dual hydro-gear EZT-2200 transmission

The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 is a high-quality zero-turn lawn mower that offers excellent value for money. It features a 23 HP Kawasaki engine and dual hydro-gear EZT-2200 transmission that make it easy to mow your lawn quickly and evenly. The triple guard corrosion defense system protects the mower from rust and corrosion, while the fabricated triple-blade Aeroforce Deck ensures a clean, even cut. The fully adjustable premium H-back seat with an advanced polymer seat suspension system provide a comfortable ride, even when mowing for long periods of time. The adjustable lap bars on the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 zero-turn lawn mower allow you to customize the width of the mower to fit your body size. This ensures that you are always comfortable while operating the mower, and that the controls are within easy reach. The industry-exclusive ergonomic hand grips on the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 zero turn lawn mower provide a comfortable and secure grip, even when your hands are wet, and the removable floor pan makes it easy to clean the mower deck. The Precision trimming offset front casters allow you to get close to edges and obstacles, while the Electronic fingertip blade engagement PTO makes it easy to engage and disengage the blades.

There isn’t much difference between the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 and ZT2. The main differences we could find between them are the tires and the transmissions. The ZT2 is a lot pricier than the ZT1 but it is a worthy upgrade as it comes with a heavier-duty serviceable engine. If you have a small lawn or only do lawn care occasionally, there really is no point in ponying up the extra bucks as the ZT1 would do just fine. Except for the beastly transmission you wouldn’t be missing much from the ZT2.

What makes it special?

  • Comfortable adjustable seat
  • Durable frame
  • Powerful twin-cylinder engine
  • Wide cutting path
  • Decent speed

What cons did we find?

  • Quite pricey
  • Needs some assembly
  • Fuel tank could be bigger
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Best for Small Areas

Husqvarna Z248F

Features
  • Power: 21.5 HP
  • Cutting width: 48 in.
  • Cutting height: 1.5 in. – 4 in.
  • Fuel tank capacity: 3.5 gal.
  • Warranty: 3-year

More features: Kawasaki engine, 6.5 MPH, ClearCut™ fabricated cutting deck, hydrostatic transmission, LED headlights, rear engine guard

The Husqvarna Z248F is a great choice for those who need a small, maneuverable zero-turn mower that can still pack a punch. It has a 48″ cutting deck made from fabricated steel, which gives it the strength to handle tough mowing jobs. The deck also has a powder-coated finish to resist rust and corrosion. The rear engine guard is a great feature of the Husqvarna Z248F. It protects the engine from debris and keeps it safe from damage. And the cast-iron spindle housings on the Husqvarna Z248F are designed to be durable and long-lasting. They help to protect the spindles from wear and tear, and they also provide stability to the mower. The mower also has a 3.5-gallon fuel tank, so you can mow for longer without having to stop and refuel. It comes with an ergonomic control panel, making it easy to use. The seat is 18″ high, so you can sit comfortably while you mow. And the foot area is anti-slip to keep you safe while you operate the mower. We liked that the Z248F has a hydrostatic transmission, which gives you infinite speed control and makes it easy to operate. It has a top speed of 6.5 MPH, so you can mow your lawn quickly and efficiently. The LED headlights on the Husqvarna Z248F allow you to mow in low light conditions. They provide clear visibility so you can see what you’re doing and avoid obstacles. Finally, the mower comes with a 3-year warranty for peace of mind.

If you are a loyal Husqvarna customer and you have a small lawn, the Husqvarna Z248F is your best bet. It is a fantastic choice if you do not have the budget for the premium MZ61 on this list as it gives the same value for money. The MZ61 has a higher top speed and a larger fuel tank capacity. Plus, the MZ61 is pretty powerful, with a 27 hp engine. You don’t need all that kind of power for your small backyard lawn. The 21.5 hp offered by Husqvarna Z248F will suffice.

What stands out?

  • Hydrostatic zero-turn transmission for simple steering
  • 21.5HP engine
  • Wide cutting deck
  • Additional safety features
  • Durable finish

What cons did we manage to find?

  • It has a tendency to miss the center grass stripe despite the deck hight and lawn mower speed
  • Grass clippings can occasionally get filled up in the deck and fall out in huge clumps
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5
Best Maneuverability

Ariens IKON XD 915267

Features
  • Power: 23 HP
  • Cutting width: 52 in.
  • Cutting height: 1.5 in. – 4.5 in.
  • Fuel tank capacity: 2.8 gal.
  • Warranty: 3-year

More features: 726cc Kawasaki® FR691V Twin engine, 7 MPH, dual-operated cut height, 13 cutting positions

The Ariens IKON XD is perfect for those who need to mow large areas of lawn. Its 726cc Kawasaki Twin engine is one of the most powerful and durable engines available in a zero-turn lawnmower. It is designed for commercial use and can handle heavy workloads. The Ariens IKON XD has a cutting width of 52 inches and its cutting deck is equipped with a dual-operated cut height lever, so you can easily adjust the cutting height to suit your needs. You can choose from 13 different cutting positions, so you can always get the perfect cut. The Hydro-Gear® EZT transaxles provide a smooth, efficient ride and can handle rough terrain. The fully welded tubular steel frame is extremely durable and can handle even the most demanding jobs. The Ariens IKON XD comes with a plush, high back seat that is extremely comfortable. This is perfect for those who need to mow large areas of lawn. Its 2.8-gallon fuel tank is enough to mow large areas of lawn without having to stop and refuel frequently. Moreover, the Ariens IKON XD has a speed of 7mph. This is fast enough to mow large areas of lawn quickly and efficiently. The mower comes with a 3-year warranty. This means that if any parts of the mower break or malfunction, you can simply get them replaced or repaired without having to pay anything.

This is the closest competitor of the Husqvarna MZ61 on this list. The mowers are both from reputable brands, are durably built, commercially rated and highly recommended for heavy duty work. The MZ61 has a more powerful engine. If durability is your top priority, you would be okay with either of the mowers. If power is all you care about, we recommend getting the Husqvarna MZ61 as it offers 27 hp against Ariens IKON XD’s 23 hp.

What do we love it for?

  • Powerful Kawasaki engine
  • Wide cutting deck
  • Adjustable cutting height
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy enough to handle
  • 12 gauge fabricated steel deck
  • Adjustable and high seat
  • Ergonomic design

What were we disappointed with?

  • Doesn’t come with headlights
  • Accessories are sold separately

Things to Consider

When it comes to mowing hills, you need a machine that can handle the incline and rough terrain. In the next section, we will take a look at what features you need to consider when choosing the best zero turns for hills.

How to Choose the Best Zero Turn Mower for Hills and Rough Terrain

Best zero-turn mowers are designed to maneuver easily around obstacles and have a powerful engine that can handle the thickest grass. There are a few key things to look for when choosing a zero turn mower for hills. They are:

Engine & Power

5 Best Zero-Turn Mowers for Hills: A Comparison of the Top Models (Fall 2022)

For tackling hills and thick grass, you’ll need at least 22 hp engine.

The first thing you need to consider is the engine. A powerful engine is a must for cutting through thick grass and tackling hills. You want an engine that is at least 22 horsepower. Anything less than that will struggle on inclines and in thick grass.

Transmission

The transmission is what powers the wheels and helps the mower move forward. A hydrostatic transmission is the best type for a zero-turn mower because it gives you infinite speed control. This means you can go as fast or slow as you need to without having to shift gears. This type of transmission is more efficient than a belt-driven transmission and can handle the stress of hills and thick grass much better.

Speed & Control

When you are mowing hills, you need a mower that you can control. A zero turn mower with a high speed is not going to be easy to control on hills. Look for a mower with a top speed of around 8 mph. This will give you enough power to get through thick grass but won’t be so fast that it’s hard to control.

Deck Size

The next thing to consider is deck size. You want a deck that is at least 42 inches wide. This will allow you to cover more ground in less time. A wider deck also means that you won’t have to make as many passes over the same area, which will save you time.

Deck Material

The material of the deck is also important. You want a deck that is made of steel. Steel is more durable than aluminum and can handle the stress of hills and thick grass much better.

 Cutting Height

You will also want to consider the cutting height of the mower. This is important because you need to be able to adjust the height to accommodate different types of grass and terrain.

Look for a mower that has a cutting height range of 1.5 to 4 inches. This will give you the versatility you need to tackle any type of terrain.

Wheels

The wheels on a zero-turn mower are very important. You want wheels that are large enough to provide good traction but not so large that they make the mower difficult to maneuver. The best wheels for hills are 12-inch wheels in the front and 14 or 16-inch wheels in the rear.

These sizes will give you the traction you need to climb hills without sacrificing too much maneuverability.

Suspension

Another important feature to look for is suspension. This will help to smooth out the ride and make it more comfortable for you as you mow. A good suspension system will also help to protect the mower from bumps and vibrations.

Maneuverability

5 Best Zero-Turn Mowers for Hills: A Comparison of the Top Models (Fall 2022)

A lawn mower with an 18-inch turning radius offers the best maneuverability

Maneuverability is one of the most important features of a zero turn mower. You want a mower that can easily maneuver around obstacles. The best mowers have a turning radius of 18 inches or less. This will allow you to easily navigate around trees, flower beds, and other obstacles.

Comfort

Another thing to consider is the comfort and safety features of the mower. Look for a mower that has an adjustable seat and steering wheel. You also want a mower that has some type of safety feature such as a rollover protection system.

Safety Features

The last thing to consider is the safety features of the mower. Look for a mower that has a rollover protection system. This will protect you in the event that the mower overturns. You also want to make sure that the mower has an emergency shut-off switch. This switch will stop the blades from spinning in the event that you need to quickly stop the mower.

Fuel Capacity and Run Time

You will also want to consider the fuel capacity and run time of the mower. A large fuel tank will allow you to mow for a longer period of time without having to stop and refill.

Look for a mower that has a fuel capacity of at least 3 gallons.

Warranty

Finally, you want to make sure that the mower you purchase has a good warranty. Most zero turn mowers come with a 2 or 3-year warranty. This will protect you in case anything goes wrong with the mower.

Price

Of course, price is always a consideration when purchasing any type of lawn mower. Zero-turn mowers can range in price from around $2000 to $8000. It is important to find a mower that fits your budget but also has the features that you need.

How to Mow Steep Slopes with a Zero Turn Lawn Mower

Mowing hills with a zero turn lawn mower is much different than mowing with a traditional tractor. Here are some tips to help you get the best results:

Start at the Top of the Hill

5 Best Zero-Turn Mowers for Hills: A Comparison of the Top Models (Fall 2022)

When mowing hills, start at the top. Thus, you will see all the obstacles and avoid getting stuck.

When you start at the top of the hill, you will be able to see what is in front of you and avoid any obstacles. This will also allow you to mow in a straight line and not have to worry about the mower getting stuck.

Use the Right Blade

Be sure to use the right blade for the job. If you are going to be mowing thick grass, you will need a blade that is designed for that purpose. A standard blade will not be able to cut through thick grass.

Mow Up and Down the Hill

When mowing, be sure to go up and down the hill instead of side to side. This will help to avoid ruts in the lawn and will make it easier for you to mow.

Take Your Time

Mowing hills is not a race. Take your time and go slowly. This will help to avoid any accidents and will also help to ensure a neat and tidy lawn.

These are just a few tips to help you mow hills with a zero-turn lawn mower. Be sure to follow these tips and you will be able to mow any hill with ease. If mowing hills with a zero turn mowers seems too dangerous or complicated for you, and you want to have more options to choose from, take a look at our list of the best mowers for hills.

Safety Tips for Using a Zero Turn Lawn Mower When Mowing Hills

5 Best Zero-Turn Mowers for Hills: A Comparison of the Top Models (Fall 2022)

Wear sunglasses or goggle to protect your eyes from flying debris.

When mowing hills with a zero-turn lawn mower, there are some safety concerns that you need to be aware of. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while mowing:

Wear the Right Clothing

Be sure to wear the right clothing when mowing. Wear closed-toe shoes and long pants to protect your feet and legs. You also want to wear a long-sleeved shirt to protect your arms from the sun.

Wear Eye Protection

Another important safety tip is to wear eye protection. This will help to protect your eyes from flying debris. Be sure to wear sunglasses or safety goggles when mowing.

Be Cautious of the Weather

Be cautious of the weather conditions when mowing. If it is windy, be sure to hold onto the mower with both hands. You also want to be aware of any sudden changes in the weather such as a gust of wind.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

When mowing hills, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Be sure to watch for any obstacles such as rocks or roots. You also want to avoid any areas where the ground is uneven.

Take Your Time

As with any lawn mowing job, it is important to take your time. Do not try to rush through the job. If you take your time, you will be able to avoid any accidents.

Following these safety tips will help to ensure a safe and successful mowing job. Be sure to follow these tips every time you mow hills with a zero turn lawn mower.

FAQ

A zero turn lawn mower is a type of riding mower that is designed for greater maneuverability than a traditional tractor. Zero turn mowers have a turning radius of 18 inches or less, which allows them to easily maneuver around obstacles. If you want to know more, check out our article on the best riding lawn mowers.

Yes, zero-turn mowers are designed to work on uneven ground. They have large wheels and a powerful engine that allow them to maneuver over any type of terrain.

A zero-turn mower can work on any type of terrain, including hills. However, it is important to take your time and go slowly when mowing hills. This will help to avoid any accidents and will also help to ensure a neat and tidy lawn.

Our Verdict

There are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing a zero turn mower. You’d want to make sure that the mower you purchase has all the features you need.

Our top pick, the DEWALT Z148 is easy to maneuver and has a nice cutting width, making it perfect for mowing hills. The engine is 23 HP and the fuel tank capacity is 5.5 gallons. It comes with a 4-year warranty.

The Husqvarna MZ61 has a really wide cutting width of 62 inches and a strong 24 hp engine. The cutting height can be easily adjusted. This mower comes with a 4-year warranty as well.

The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1, the third pick for the best zero turn lawn mowers for hills, is a powerful and versatile machine. With its 23 HP engine and 50 in. cutting width, it can handle even the most challenging terrain.

References

1.
What's a zero-turn mower? Let us explain... | Ariens
​​​At Ariens, we like to consider ourselves experts in manufacturing zero-turn lawn mowers. In fact, we were one of the first in the industry to embrace zero-turn technology. And even though we've been living and breathing zero-turns for the past few decades, we know that some of our consumers are still unsure about making the switch from their current lawn tractor to a new zero turn.
2.
The Best Way to Mow a Hill | Home Guides | SF Gate
The Best Way to Mow a Hill. Mowing on a slope presents a challenge to many home owners. Before undertaking your project, you'll need to determine whether or not your slope is safe to mow at all.
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