Unfortunately, not all of us were blessed with beautiful, perfectly level laws, or else gently rolling land that provides an easy surface for home and garden maintenance. Some homeowners may have to deal with dramatic level changes and steep hills when they do their weekly mowing in the spring and summer months.
That’s a hassle. And if you don’t quite know how to solve it, running your lawn mower over a steep hill day after day can be both incredibly tiring and incredibly frustrating. If you’re a senior citizen or not physically strong, doing that lawn care work yourself may even prove downright impossible; not everybody is in shape to push a heavy, metal machine up a hill repeatedly until their lawn is perfectly groomed.
That’s why here, we’ve outlined a couple of strategies to help you cut grass, even if it’s on a steep hill. Even if none of these solutions is a perfect match, you may find that you’re able to get by through combining multiple solutions. Keep reading for some tips on how to cut grass on even the steepest of hills.
Strategies For Cutting Grass on a Hill
Tip #1: Keep your mower on a ‘high’ setting.
The lower (in height, not in power) that your mower setting is, the more difficult it’ll be to push around. That’s just because you’re cutting off more grass with each push. If you need to decrease a bit of resistance while you’re mowing up a steep hill, consider simply switching your lawn mower to its maximum height setting. Doing so should make it easier to maneuver and push around.
It’s like using a vacuum on a hardwood floor versus using one on a thick, shag carpet. The first instance has very little resistance, so pushing is easy; the second is nothing but friction, so everything gets ten times harder. Just don’t set your lawn mower setting too high. Remember, you’re still trying to cut the grass, not give it a trim of a single millimeter.
Tip #2: Change the direction you’re mowing in.
Next, changing the direction you’re pushing your lawn mower in could prove to be a fruitful decision. For example, if you’re having a lot of trouble mowing up and down a very steep incline, try mowing it crosswise (i.e., push your mower from the left side of the hill to the right side of the hill, rather than pushing it up the hill and down the hill). You may find that you have to expand significantly less effort to do so, especially if you’re able to move crosswise while going down.
The same goes for using a riding lawn mower, however you want to do the exact opposite, since riding side-to-side could actually be pretty dangerous (you’re at risk for falling off or flipping the lawn mower over). If you’re riding side-to-side but you’re finding that it isn’t quite working for you, try going up and down the hill. Since you’re not pushing, it won’t take significantly more effort and you’ll probably get better results than you would riding your mower crosswise.
Tip #3: Change your lawnmower.
It seems obvious, but many people don’t realize that the model of lawn mower they’re using is actually not quite ideal. Push mowers, for example, are great for small lawns. They give you more control than the type of lawn mower you can ride. But once you move up to bigger and bigger areas that you need to mow on a regular basis, rideable mowers become a much, much better solution.
Cutting grass on a steep hill is much the same way. If you’re using a normal, everyday push mower but it just isn’t cutting it (see what we did there?) then try switching to a self-propelled model. Such lawn mowers can actually move themselves along as you use them, giving a little extra kick and making those steep hills much, much easier to mow.
Or, if you’re dealing with a steep hill that has a particularly large area, try switching to a rideable mower. It might be an expensive change, and there’s also a learning curve involved, but your legs and back will thank you after even a single session.
Likewise, you may not have to switch types of mowers, but it may pay off to upgrade to a newer model if yours is particularly old, heavy, or hard to move.
Tip #4: Call in a friend.
Another simple but effective strategy: get somebody to help you out! Steep hills are definitely not an easy task to tackle alone. As you get tired out, you may find that your technique takes a nosedive as well; you might not be able to mow in straight lines anymore, or maybe your results look different at the top of the hill compared to the bottom of it.
As such, calling in a friend or a family member to give you a hand is one of the easiest solutions you can try out. It won’t cost you a penny, unlike many of the other options on this list. And furthermore, it’s easy and doesn’t require any preliminary research or other work. All you need is one other person you can trust to do an equally good job with mowing the lawn. No matter what, it’s a win-win situation. You can even combine calling a friend with some of the other solutions on this list to make mowing your lawn easier in several different ways.
Tip #5: Mow more frequently than usual.
If you’re encountering a lot of resistance as you push your mower up that hill, one strategy you could try is to simply mow a little more frequently. The longer you let the grass grow, the more effort you’ll have to put in to cut it every time. Keeping it short will cut down on the resistance and simply make the mower easier to push, even when going uphill.
Just be careful, though; it’s easy to overmow, and if you mow too often, you could even end up damaging your grass, as it won’t be able to grow normally. According to some commonly-held advice, you should never cut more than one-third of your lawn’s height at a time; doing so could prove unhealthy.
That said, as long as you’re fertilizing enough, watering your grass an adequate amount, and watching out for any signs of overmowing, you can consider upping your regular mowing schedule a bit; you may find that you have to put in less effort per session than was absolutely necessary beforehand.
Tip #6: Don’t mow when it’s wet.
Finally, mowing grass that’s wet isn’t a good idea even under ideal circumstances, when you have healthy grass, a state of the art mower, and a flat, level plane to mow on.
This is the case for a couple reasons. Firstly, grass is best mowed when it’s consistently standing up straight. During or after a rain, even a light one, your blades of grass won’t all be at a consistent level. Some may be standing straight up, but others will be sticking to each other, laying flat on the ground, or simply bowing under the weight of the water on top of them. When you mow, it may seem like you’re hitting every area consistently, but afterwards you’ll notice that when your lawn is dry it has an uneven look.
Mowing your lawn when it’s wet is kind of like cutting your hair while it’s dry, right after you wake up in the morning. It might look good in the moment, but you’ll probably regret it later.
In addition, mowing while the ground is wet is bad for the soil that the grass sits on. Running a heavy mower over wet soil could put rut marks in the ground or even uproot some of the grass, resulting in a torn-up, uneven lawn when it all dries out.
Not to mention, mowing wet grass is bad for your lawn mower itself. It can gunk up the lawn mower’s blades or cause rust to set in faster than it otherwise would, had you only been using it during times when the grass was dry.
But back to the topic at hand: mowing while it’s wet is also just plain difficult. It takes a lot more effort to push or drive your lawn mower through wet, resistant mud than it does to move along over top of dry, consistent soil. It’s also a safety hazard, especially since we’re discussing steep hills here. There’s a high chance of slipping and suffering an injury if you’re pushing a mower up a steep hill after a rain, or even slipping and falling off of a rideable lawn mower.
For all these reasons, if you’re currently cutting your lawn on a steep hill while it’s still wet from a rain or from the morning dew, it’s probably a good idea to find a different time to mow. Not only will it be easier, but it’ll also be safer as well as healthier for your grass.
There are many strategies you can take to make cutting grass on a steep hill slightly more manageable, from calling in a friend or buying a self-propelling lawn mower to changing the way you ride or avoiding sessions when it’s wet outside.
Regardless, remember to stay safe when mowing your lawn! Cutting grass on a steep hill can be dangerous and tiresome. Nonetheless, if you try out some of the solutions listed here, you’ll be on your way to an easier and more relaxed way to mow your lawn in no time.