Gone are the days when lawn enthusiasts had to sling a bag of grass seed over their shoulders and cast handfuls of seed haphazardly across the ground. The modern way to spread seed, fertilizer, or other such products over your yard is to use a lawn spreader. With the best lawn spreaders, you can help keep your yard healthy and attractive all season long.
Table of Contents
- The Best Spreaders for Your Lawn
- Materials to Apply with a Spreader
- How Big Is a Yard Spreader?
- Drop Spreaders Versus Broadcast Spreaders
- Tips for Using a Lawn Spreader
- How to Calibrate a Spreader
The Best Spreaders for Your Lawn
Your yard deserves the best. For quality lawn care, consider one of these five spreader models.
1. Scotts Wizz Hand-Held Spreader
The Wizz is a small spreader that fits easily in one hand. Because it runs on batteries, scattering lawn products is an easy task. There is a handle on top with a built-in trigger. Pull the trigger to start releasing product from the hopper. There is a fan-like distributor that helps broadcast granular products over a wide area.
If you are working near an area that shouldn’t be sprayed, turn on the Scotts Edge Guard. This protective feature helps prevent seed or fertilizer from flying into a delicate area or landing on your driveway.
In general, the hopper has space to hold enough product to cover a 2,500-square-foot-lawn, but this will vary depending on the size of the granules, the speed at which you walk, and the distribution rate setting that you select. An easy-to-turn dial on the front of the unit allows you to adjust the distribution rate.
2. Lesco High Wheel Fertilizer Spreader 101186
The Lesco broadcast spreader is useful for covering wide areas with fertilizer or other products. Its stainless steel construction means that you can rely on this device for years to come. A split handle makes it easy to push the unit, and black grips make touching the metal bars comfortable in any weather.
The hopper holds up to 80 pounds of material. It has three 1-inch holes for distributing products. An oscillating agitator helps ensure even ground coverage. There is a manual deflector included that you can use to help keep lawn products from straying out of their intended area.
The wide wheels of this Lesco broadcast spreader are equipped with rust-resistant rims and pneumatic tires. The tires are large, which increases the unit’s stability and allows you to use it on rough terrain or over tall grass.
3. Agri-Fab 45-0288 Tow-behind Drop Spreader
If you have the ability to pull a hopper with a lawn tractor, consider the Agri-Fab pull spreader. This device is especially handy for maintaining large properties since it can hold up to 175 pounds of material, which is enough to cover about 40,000 square feet of the ground.
The Agri-Fab drops seeds or fertilizer in an even path. With the help of a steel agitator, each pass distributes a line of product that is about 42 inches across. It’s ideal for fertilizer and weed killer and also handles grass seed well.
The poly hopper of the Agri-Fab tow behind the spreader rests on two pneumatic wheels. It hooks up to your tractor, and you can adjust the controls from the driver’s seat.
Materials to Apply with a Spreader
Don’t think of a spreader as a one-time-use item. Even if you’re buying it for a specific purpose right now, you’ll find reasons to pull it out again and again. The best lawn spreader can have a variety of uses around your home. Consider filling a spreader’s hopper with any of the following materials:
- Grass seed: Reduce the problem of having too much grass in one area and not enough in another by applying it with a spreader that evenly distributes the seed.
- Fertilizer: Keep your lawn or garden healthy by applying an even layer of fertilizer.
- Weed killer: Keep pesky plants at bay with an even coat of a product designed to eradicate them.
- Ice melt: During the winter months, use a spreader to distribute non-slip granules over your walkways and driveway.
How Big Is a Yard Spreader?
Lawn spreaders come in a full range of sizes. Some models are small. They fit right in your hand. There is a crank or trigger that you operate in order to distribute the product. Handheld spreaders are best for covering a small area of the lawn. Another name for this style of spreader is “applicator.”
Most spreaders are larger than this. Instead of carrying them, you push them. This type of spreader has a large bucket that is mounted on two wheels. There is an attached handle so you can walk behind the spreader while moving it forward.
There are also spreaders that attach to the back of lawn tractors. The best tow behind broadcast spreaders are typically reserved for professional use, but smaller ones may be useful for homeowners with large properties.
Drop Spreaders Versus Broadcast Spreaders
The main distinction between push spreaders is whether they use a drop method or a broadcast method to distribute their contents.
1. Drop Spreaders
The hopper on a drop spreader has openings along its length, and seed or fertilizer is evenly distributed from those holes. Because the product falls directly from the bottom of the spreader, it will land only in the places where you walk.
When using a drop spreader, you must make sure to push the unit in even rows. When starting a new row, one wheel should line up with a wheel mark from the previous pass. This can be a time-consuming process, so this spreader style is often recommended exclusively for fairly small lawns.
You may want to use the best drop spreader in places where space is tight. For example, near your garden, a drop spreader allows for precise application so that you don’t accidentally fling lawn fertilizer into your vegetable patch.
2. Broadcast Spreaders
Instead of the product falling straight down, the seed in a broadcast spreader is scattered around. There is a rotating piece under the hopper that flings the product outward as you push the spreader. This fan-like addition can help you cover a broader area. Because of this feature, a broadcast spreader may also be called a “rotary spreader.”
Using a broadcast spreader can go more quickly than using a drop spreader does. Therefore, this style is often recommended for large lawns that would take a long time to cover with a drop spreader. Also, it can be easier to achieve an even application with a broadcast spreader, but you should still take care to make careful passes across your lawn.
However, a broadcast spreader is not recommended for areas where precision is critical. If you need full control over the application, it’s best to use a drop spreader.
In some yards, it may be best to use two different applicators. The drop spreader can take care of the tight spots, and the broadcast spreader can take over in the wide open areas.
Tips for Using a Lawn Spreader
- Fill the hopper of the spreader on a hard surface, such as a driveway. If you do it on the lawn and accidentally spill excess product, you could damage your lawn.
- Clean up any fertilizer that falls onto hard surfaces, such as walkways. In some states and municipalities, this is a law.
- Consult the seed or fertilizer package to see what setting the spreader should be on.
- Place a header section at the beginning and end of your work area, or create a full border. To make a header, do one pass with your spreader. Then turn around, align the spreader so the wheel tracks overlap, and make a pass going the other way. The header provides an area to turn the spreader around at the end of a pass. Whenever you reach this part of your lawn, temporarily stop the flow until you have completed the turn and are ready to put down the product on a fresh swath of ground.
- Consider setting your spreader at half of the recommended distribution strength. After making passes across your yard in one direction, repeat the distribution by making passes in the opposite direction. This cross-hatch method usually results in a more even finished result.
- Thoroughly wash the spreader between uses.
How to Calibrate a Spreader
Spreaders have the ability to distribute products at varying rates. A dial or other adjuster allows you to set the spreader for the correct rate for the product that you are using.
Often, you can find the correct rate setting for your seed or fertilizer by consulting the product package. If you do not see this information from the manufacturer, an online search may provide a general guideline of the correct rate to use.
Even with this information, however, it can be a good idea to calibrate your spreader. Because each manufacturer’s spreader is slightly different, a “5” setting on one spreader could release a different amount of product than a “5” setting on another unit.
Calibrating your device can help ensure that you are casting the right amount of product with your spreader. Here’s how to calibrate your spreader:
- Determine your target distribution density. You might be able to find this information on the product package. For example, you may need to distribute 2.5 pounds of the product over a 500-square-foot area.
- Place a specific weight of the product in your hopper. 5 to 10 pounds is normally a reasonable test amount.
- Mark off a 500-square-foot area in an inconspicuous area of your yard.
- Evenly distribute the product over the test area.
- Weigh the amount of product that remains in the hopper. Subtract that from your starting weight. The difference is the weight of the product that was used.
- Compare the amount of product used over 500 square feet to your target distribution goal. Adjust the hopper’s rate up or down accordingly.
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Both a drop spreader and a broadcast spreader can help you maintain a healthy lawn that impresses the neighbors. Fill its hopper with the yard product of your choice, and get to work spreading it across the lawn. The best lawn fertilizer will help you distribute the product evenly without spending all day on the job.