How to Safely Use Stand-on Mowers on Slopes

Stand-on mowers are popular, in part, for their hillside stability; but there are limitations to safe mowing on slopes

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Stand-on mowers have continued to gain in popularity—largely due to their compact size and maneuverability, but also their visibility and hillside stability.

Manufacturers of stand-on mowers point out the fact that the operator, when standing, can more easily shift his weight from one side to the other, helping to counter a slope’s incline. Additionally, the stand-on mower’s lower center of gravity helps reduce the possibility of tipping over.

Some contractors, particularly those fixated on mowing speed and overall fast job completion, might view all of this as a green light to tackle any and all “hilly” properties with unfettered confidence. But even manufacturers such as Wright, who pioneered the stand-up mowing concept, offer some cautionary advice with respect to slope mowing.

Read next: Stand-on Mower Safety Tips

For instance, in the operator’s manual for its Stander ZK mower, Wright says “Do not operate the mower on slopes steeper than you can feel secure about the traction of the tires and the stability of the mower. Do not operate the mower on slopes at all when the grass is wet; there is a danger of suddenly sliding sideways or down the hill. When operating on a slope, travel across the grade whenever possible, not in an up or down pattern. Reduce speed and exercise extreme caution on slopes and in sharp turns to prevent tipping or loss of control. Be especially cautious when changing direction on slopes.”

Those safety precautions are quite enlightening with respect to the nimble stand-on mower. Nonetheless, one contractor’s interpretation of “feeling secure on a slope” might be much different than another’s. That’s why Toro advises its stand-on mower users to never mow on a grade steeper than 20°. On a similarly sized Toro sit-down zero-turn, the recommendation is a tad more stringent at 15°. Gravely says that 15° is actually the threshold on its stand-on mowers. One further, Dixie Chopper says you should never exceed 5° slopes when mowing sideways, 10° when mowing uphill and 15° when mowing downhill.

Read next: Benefits of Using a Stand-on Mower

These slight variations from one mower maker to the next help illustrate the importance of always consulting the safety section of your specific mower’s operator manual for recommendations. You must always read, understand and follow the instructions in your safety instruction manual, along with the various safety symbols and warnings that appear throughout the manual and on the product itself.

That said, now’s a good time to review some basic safety reminders with respect to stand-on mowers, and really just riding mowers in general.

  • Always drive with caution and keep your speed to a comfortable level.
  • Remain well aware of your surroundings, which could include ditches, drop-offs, water hazards, wet grass and various obstacles around the property, including sticks, sprinkler heads, stumps, etc.
  • In the event that your stand-on mower does begin to lose traction on a slope, Wright Manufacturing recommends that you abandon the mower by jumping off to the high side of the mower; that way you won’t be in its path as it tumbles down the slope.
  • Ensure that the mower’s drive tires remain in good working condition. This means proper inflation and the swift replacement of tires with excessively worn treads.

*This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2019.