FWD self propelled walk behind lawnmower on hill, how much does it suck? (also RWD on flat)

I’ve heard that for self propelled walk behind mowers, if you have a flat lawn get FWD , if on a slope get RWD. I’m curious about 2 things here, why the difference especially on flat ground as it wouldn’t seem to matter much, and then on a personal level since I have a sloped lawn and if RWD really makes a difference from FWD.

IME, the issue with RWD, is that they tend to do a wheelie if you engage them to quickly, leaving patches of uncut grass.
The only thing I can think of wanting RWD on a sloped lawn would be because, when going uphill, you might not have enough weight on the front wheels for them to grip the lawn and pull the mower forward.

Just for giggles the other day, I cut our front lawn up and down instead of side to side, We have a FWD push mower. As Joey_P says there’s not enough weight on the front wheels to give a lot of grip for the uphill part. There’s more than enough for the downhill, where you don’t need the assist.

I have a RWD walk-behind mower and a relatively flat lawn. It has no problem handling the uphill/downhill sections. Whether an FWD mower would work better is anyone’s guess. If I had to do it all over I would pay a little more and buy an AWD since I bet it would work better than either RWD or FWD on a sloping lawn.

As a safety note, I had read somewhere eons ago* that a ride-on mower should be oriented up-and-down slopes on hills while a push mower should be driven perpendicular to the slopes.

The reasoning astride the riding mower direction is that there’s a chance the top-heavy (relatively high engine & driver) machine could tip sideways while running perpendicular to a slope and some of those have fold-up cutter-reels that will decidedly NOT do anything to stabilize the machine as it’s tipping. And then the rider/driver could get thrown off and injured (in the lucky cases) or trapped beneath it (and injured that much more).

The reasoning behind the push-mower direction is that there’s a chance the operator could slip on freshly-mowed (and therefore slightly wet & slick) grass while following the mower up a hill. Lacking the engagement of the clutch to make the drive-wheels (regardless of the FWD/RWD/AWD design) propel the mower forward, that machine with the spinning blade underneath could start rolling back down the hill – atop said operator.

And now back to your regular discussion program…


* Like back when I was in college, decades before I started working for this Workers Compensation insurance company that just happened to cover landscapers (for a very brief period).

I used a FWD for years, finally getting a RWD about 5 years ago or so. My front yard has no flat spot on it and rises at about 10 degrees (I measured it) by the driveway. I’ll never get another FWD. I do most of the yard side to side, the I cut the narrow strip between my driveway and the neighbor’s yard going up and down. With a FWD, I’d give it full throttle and it wouldn’t move. The first time I tried going uphill with the RWD, I gave it full throttle and it damn near ran away from me.

My backyard is mostly flat except for a short, steep hill on one edge of the yard. I do the perimeter of the yard first, then end with the easy flat part. With the FWD, I always needed a rest after doing the perimeter. With the RWD, I do it all at once.

One thing I hate about RWD is turning the thing. With FWD you just push down and lift up the front wheels and spin it on the rear wheels. If the rear wheels are driving the mower it makes this operation tricky.

I have a FWD and I mow across the slopes, not up and down, starting at the top and working my way down. It works especially well when I get close to the bottom of the ditch - I can walk on the relatively flat surface and control the path of the mower while the drive powers it forward.

And I agree about turning - it’s a piece of cake with the FWD - I don’t even have to release the handle - just turn on the back wheels and set it down ready to go. With luck, it’ll all be moot next year - spousal unit plans to build a remote controlled mower to handle our sloped areas.

Lawn mower and wood chipper accidents are the stuff of nightmares.

An adult friend was injured as a child by a lawn mower. Above the knee on right leg and several toes on her other foot amputated.