Riding lawn mowers, often called lawn tractors, are great for cutting the grass in a large lawn. But, they’re also surprisingly adept at towing small trailers and brush.
By installing a simple ball hitch tow kit to your lawn mower, you’ll be able to get more done around the yard without a large vehicle.
If you’re not sure how to put a ball hitch on a lawn mower, read this simple guide to get started today. It’s a simple process that can be done on most lawn mowers.
2 Ways to Put a Ball Hitch on a Lawn Mower
On most lawn mowers, the easiest way to install a ball hitch tow kit is to bolt it to the back. This can be done in a simple no-drill method if your mower is configured correctly. Otherwise, you’ll need to drill a few holes.
Method 1: Hitch Plate Installations
Many riding lawn mowers come with back panels which are already configured to allow tow hitch kit installations. The hitch plate on a mower allows a tow kit to be installed with little to no modification. This method works on any lawn mower with a hitch plate on the back, even zero turn mowers.
- Step 1: Planning the Installation
Inspect your mower to see what the back plate looks like. Check for pre-drilled holes and their locations on the plate. The hitch plate design will determine what kind of tow hitch you can install without modifying the design.
Look specifically for a place to secure the ball hitch a lower bracket to hold the ball hitch. For a higher mount, look for holes that are located higher up the hitch plate. If you want to tow heavier loads, see if there are holes on the upper part of the hitch plate for support brackets.
Once you purchase a tow hitch kit, line it up with the holes you’ll be using to secure it in place. This will help you ensure you can install it properly before you get started.
- Step 2: Attaching the Ball Hitch
Install the pieces one at a time by bolting them into place. Make sure you use a washer with each bolt for a stronger hold. Check each part for a tight fit.
With most ball hitches, you will install the tow ball last. It is interchangeable with other tow balls of various sizes, allowing you flexibility to get what you need to tow your trailer or other load.
Watch a ball hitch installation here:
Method 2: Drilling Installations
Not all lawn mowers come with hitch plates on the back. Some mowers have flat backs without any built-in mounting space. For these mowers, you will need to drill holes into the back first to allow the tow hitch to be mounted.
Step 1: Planning
Before you make any changes, inspect your mower closely and create a plan for the installation. You need to look at the mounting requirements of your ball hitch, the intended placement, and what’s behind the back plate of the mower.
Tow hitches are often made to be universal. Tow kits usually come with a few different types of mounting brackets to accommodate different mower, tractor, or small vehicle specifications. Take stock of what you have in your kit.
Bring your ball hitch tow kit pieces around to the back of your mower and identify which pieces you need to use. Look at the width of the bolts and ball hitch to determine how big of a hole you need to drill for each piece.
Once you know the configuration of the tow kit pieces, plan out where they will be mounted on your lawn mower. Consider how high up you want the hitch to be, where it will be centered, and how much metal is supporting the setup.
If you have a specific trailer you know you’re going to pull around with the mower, it may be helpful to bring it over to the mower and see where it would naturally rest. This is a good starting point for your hitch location, so that you know it will hold the trailer in a balanced, level tow.
Mark the spots where each bolt will need to be placed to mount the tow kit. If you’re just using a single ball hitch, mark the place where it will attach to the mower.
Mower Back Plate
Before you can drill any holes to start the installation, you need to know what’s behind the back plate of your mower. The metal plate itself might be sturdy, but it could be hiding parts of the mower that would be damaged by drilling.
If possible, remove the back plate entirely and inspect the area behind it. Look for pieces that could potentially be damaged by the bolts or which might block them entirely. Drill the plate while it’s separated, if possible.
Step 2: Drilling
Choose a drill head large enough to match the bolt sizes. Center your drill on each guiding mark, then drill a hole straight through. Measure the holes by placing the bolts through to check the fit.
Tip: If the hole you’ve drilled is not large enough for your ball socket, bolts, or brackets, you may be able to widen it without drilling a second time. Use a hammer to push a metal bar or pole through the drilled hole, rolling it around in a circular motion to expand the opening.
Step 3: Installation
Bolt each individual bracket into place. Make sure to put washers on each bolt before securing them into place. Check the hitch setup to ensure you’ve tightened it in place.
Test the rig by hooking up your trailer or other attachment. If the ball hitch is out of place or weak, you may need to reattach it or look to tighten the bolts again.
If you want to start towing trailers, brush, equipment, or other loads around the yard, it’s a good idea to learn how to put a ball hitch on a lawn mower. For mowers with pre-drilled back plates, it’s an easy process. Even if you have to drill the holes yourself, you can do it in matter of minutes.
Do you have any questions about installing a ball hitch tow kit on your riding lawn mower? Let us know in the comments below.