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Steep grade self propelled or wb

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by tacoma200, Apr 6, 2007.

  1. tacoma200

    tacoma200 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,426

    I have one fairly good sized account that has a couple of steep hills. Not overly large. One will have to be mowed sideways and the other probably up and down. This hardly justifies a the price of a walk behind but a good self propelled may do the trick. The hills are just are more than would be safe with the ZTR. I'm guessing 30 degrees but more in some area's.

    1. would a 21" self propelled do well up and across the slope?
    2. never ran a walk behind, do they do well across slopes?
    3. I could probably even just us a simple but easy to push stable push mower
    so any suggestions on a model? Toro, Honda, price?
    4. In other words whats a good small mower for the occasional steep area that needs to be clean cut (not a trimmer)?
    5. Advantages of a walk behind over self propelled or the other way around in steep area's.

    Thanks for all replies, I'm not well informed in this area at all so just bear with me. Probably mostly side discharge, some is in front of a church so the cut needs to be crisp. One of the steep banks has a fence at the top. No room to turn. Steeper in some area's.
  2. john_incircuit

    john_incircuit LawnSite Senior Member
    from NC
    Messages: 310

    If I remember right, the Honda HRC we have are speced out for a 20 degree slope. Don't want to cut something much steeper with it. Up is not a big deal, going down is tricky, there is no break.
  3. tacoma200

    tacoma200 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,426

    The slope I'm looking at is a little steeper than this first pic. So would a 48" walk behind work? not nearly as steep as the second picture. You will slip every now and then when push mowing it. I have a guy wanting to show me a practically new 48" Toro Wb for $1500 tomorrow. But its not a hydro but then again I won't be using a WB enough to invest a huge amount of money. I think I can get the $1500 WB to eventually pay for its self it it will do the job. Once again I'm estimating 25 to 35 degrees on this bank which needs to be mowed across the slope. Its probably somewhere in between the two and I'm sure its out of range of the turf tiger going across. In fact the turf tiger would probably do the top picture but pictures are often misleading. I definately need to mow across the slope on this one because of a fence at the top and the fast angle at the bottom.

    Slope mower.JPG

  4. ribbie78

    ribbie78 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 150

    One account in the past was a house with steep hills on 3 out of the 4 sides around it. Like your situation turning was difficult and not an option. My opinion was: we used self propelled which were nice going sideways but turning and having controlled confidence was very low. Our best results were with the lightest pushmower we could find (and the cheapest lol) since we would push one direction and simply pull it backwards on each opposite swipe. I know it isn't the best mowing practice but it's all we could do with this place and it looked as good as it could. Also, with the lightweight pushmower we had more control and it was much, much easier than the expensive propelled one.

    If it's a long hill in-between the steepness of the two pics; then a wb might be fine, especially if it's smooth. Belt drive will have trouble gripping and turning, and a hydro would prob work better.... I hate hills and bid those accounts up more for the potential danger and difficulty.
  5. tacoma200

    tacoma200 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,426

    the hill is closer to the first pic, in fact the turf tiger could make the bottom swipe as long as it was dry but its just a few degrees steeper than I would be comfortable with the turf tiger going cross ways. It's not nearly as bad as the second picture but it was one I found in a search of Lawnsite. My helper mowed it crossways with a push mower the first time, but I saw him slip a time or two. I was thinking a WB and some cleated shoes would make it safer for him and less work. Hard to find good help so I want to take care of him with the right equipment. The slope runs along side a entrance drive and its only 15-20 ft to the top but probably 250 ft long and fairly steep as I have said but he did do it with a push mower. I just want to make it easier. He said his biggest problem was not the push mower wanting to turn over but basically the grass is a little slick after you mow over it. Any one use cleated shoes on steep area's? If I did get the WB it would probably open up a few more jobs that I usually turn down so I'm leaning in that direction.
  6. DiyDave

    DiyDave LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,695

    Just take a look at those two pictures again. Which would you want your lawn to look like? Going up and down with a 21" walk behind looks like hell compared to the professional appearance that the Dew-Eze leaves. Yes , I have a dog in this fight, ladies and gentlemen, I have a used Dew-Eze slope mower for sale (its listed waay back in the adds). If you want a good slope mower, Dew-Eze makes it (around $ 17K new). If you don't want to spend that much, call or p.m. me thanks.:waving: :waving:
  7. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,491

    Are you telling us that the Dew-Eze would cut a hill like the second picture?
  8. DiyDave

    DiyDave LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,695

    No, to quote Dirty Harry, " a man's got to know his limitations." What I would say is that what it does, it does well. Keep in mind that all machines will have limitations on how steep is safe, and operator experience, as well as a good smooth grade determine how far you can go on a steep hill. Plus, I was trying to steal the thread, and not have to post pictures, and get some free advertising, the lazy slob that I am!:dizzy: :dizzy:
  9. drumbo

    drumbo LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 336

    Ok...here's your answer.

    I use a hysdrostatic Exmark Viking 48inch walk-behind. We do some very steep places and one is right next to our interstate. We tried a push mower for fun just to see if it worked better than the walk-behind but it tipped over and wouldn't stay on all four tires.

    The walk-behind works like a champ. BUT if it is not a hydro, then you can count on either 1) Getting dropped from your insurance carrier or 2) Rated higher from your insurance company---Both as a result from losing a mower and/or worker from wrong equipment.

    If you can't afford the walk-behind, then pass on it OR go trim-happy! ;)
  10. drumbo

    drumbo LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 336

    We use a walk-behind going sideways on a hill like the one with the pushmower. The first hill picture is nothing that an Exmark or Deere can't handle easily.

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