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I've got a lawn with a rather steep drop that I'm finding difficult to mow.

My wife thinks we should get a self-propelled push mower, but I don't think anything in a consumer range is going to be mighty enough to go up that hill.

What are my options? Am I wrong to think a mower in the $300-$400 range can't handle this?

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can you provide a picture or diagram of the hill? The "consumer" self-propelled models are pretty good (in my experience) – warren Apr 4 '11 at 15:45
One other option is plantings -- flowers or some sort of ground cover that doesn't require mowing. – Joe Apr 9 '11 at 3:21
up vote 2 down vote accepted

When I was younger and mowing my parent's lawn (with a fairly steep hill out back), I always just went across the hill, starting at the top and working my way back and forth and moving downward with each sweep across.

At the time I was using a gas mower that wasn't self-propelled, and I didn't find it much harder than doing the flat parts of the yard - you just need to be careful that the thing doesn't tip over toward the downhill side.

The only real downside is that when you hit the bottom, you then have to drag the thing back up the hill, but it's only once for the whole job.

The important mower characteristics are that it have a nice low center of gravity (keeps it from wanting to tip over too much), and that it have a working kill switch (modern mowers all have some kind of lever or bar that you have to hold in order to make them keep running).

Also, don't cut when things are muddy or wet - you don't want to risk slipping and ending up with a foot in the blade.

If you can't hold the mower upright as you walk across the hill, then my only suggestion is to rig some kind of winch at the top of the hill, and slowly drop the down the hill, then winch it back up for the next pass.

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Like a tool, I was moving sideways from the bottom up. Doh! – Caveatrob Apr 8 '11 at 19:31

Several options come to mind:

  1. Mow across the slope instead of directly up and down the hill, assuming it's not so steep that the lawn mower would tip over.
  2. Use a weed eater to trim the grass on the slope.
  3. Regrade the yard to reduce the slope.
  4. Replace the slope with a retaining wall.
  5. Replace the grass with a mulched bed.

I suspect if the slope is so steep that a self propelled mower would tip over, then a more expensive mower will just give you something more expensive to break.

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I'd go with the weed eater for the slope plus a $300-400 range mower for the rest of the yard. If you've got a lot of area that needs trimming, I'd recommend the Echo SRM-225. I've had mine for a year now, and I'm loving it. – Doresoom Apr 4 '11 at 4:27

If you want to do the self propelled push mower, make sure its rear wheel drive. A front wheel drive will have zero chance of making it up the hill especially if you have a bag. That being said I don't really know how well a rear wheel drive will do either. I have a Toro Super Recycler (been many years but I think it was close to $500). It does great and moves quick and I have never had a problem with traction. However I don't have any large slopes.

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+1 for the rear wheel drive recommendation on steep slopes. I've got a flat lawn, and prefer front wheel drive since it's easier to control on turns. – Doresoom Apr 4 '11 at 4:24

What about tying in with a rope anchored at the top and mowing across the slope in decreasing arcs. I think I've see guys doing something similar on motorway verges.

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