A little fertilizer or an application of an herbicide can go a long way toward keeping your lawn healthy and vibrant. With the help of a spreader, you'll find it easy to keep your yard looking lush and green. Since fertilizers and weed killers are sold in granular form, spreaders allow you to load up enough product to treat your lawn and simply distribute the chemicals as you walk around, making the job go much more quickly and efficiently. Lawn spreaders are relatively simple devices that provide uniform coverage of lawn care products. Without one, you may end up with uneven clumps of fertilizer or too much herbicide applied in some areas and not enough in others. Lawn spreaders can also be used to spread grass seed for planting or to apply ice melting agents on icy sidewalks. Before you buy a lawn spreader, consider the following questions:
• Do you have a small or large lawn?
• Is speed or precision of distribution more important to you?
• Will you be spreading fertilizer, herbicide or grass seed?
• Is your lawn rectangular or irregularly shaped?
• Are there flower beds or gardens in your yard?
Types, Application Tips and Features
There are basically two types of lawn spreaders, drop spreaders and broadcast spreaders. Drop spreaders do just what they say -- they drop fertilizer or other material directly onto the lawn below, providing accurate placement. Broadcast spreaders throw fertilizer in a wide arc and allow you to accomplish the job in a quicker timeframe. The type of spreader you choose depends largely on the size and shape of your lawn. You'll also need to determine if you want a spreader that is mounted on wheels or one that is handheld. Be sure to choose a model that is big enough to accommodate the amount of product you need to treat the entire surface of your lawn to avoid needing to refill in the middle of a job.
Drop Spreaders: Drop spreaders are made up of a bucket-type container, usually mounted on two wheels. A raised handle allows you to push the device along as you walk while the spreader places the material on the ground beneath it. Drop spreaders are relatively inexpensive and work best if you have a small lawn or need precise application of the fertilizer, herbicide or seed you are distributing. Drop spreaders measure and distribute the fertilizer in a straight path directly on the lawn. Because they are more exact, they are the preferred spreader to use if you are applying a chemical that may harm other plants and flowers in your yard. By using a drop spreader, you can more easily control the distribution pattern.
• Drop spreaders are easier to use than broadcast spreaders
• Drop spreaders are ideal for applications that need greater accuracy
• They allow you to maneuver more easily in tight spaces
• Drop spreaders require more time than broadcast spreaders
• They work best on lawns measuring less than 5,000 sq. ft.
Broadcast Spreaders: Broadcast, or rotary, spreaders accomplish the same task as drop spreaders. However, they operate by throwing the fertilizer or other material in a wide swath in all directions. Because the rotary action of the spreader creates a pattern that fans out so the margins of each pass overlap each other, they provide more uniform coverage. Even though they offer more even coverage, they can make it difficult to adequately reach the edges of your lawn. Also, you need to maintain a steady walking speed to ensure even distribution.
• If you have a large lawn or other area, broadcast spreaders are ideal
• Broadcast spreaders require a little more effort and skill to use
• If speed of application is a primary concern, choose a broadcast spreader
• Do not use a broadcast spreader if you have flower beds in your lawn
• Available in both walk-behind and handheld configurations
Application: Always be sure to turn off your spreader before adding fertilizer or other materials. Next, set the spreading rate on the spreader's micrometer to the setting indicated on the package of the lawn product you are applying. Start walking, and then squeeze the trigger to apply the fertilizer. Some spreaders allow you to lock the spreader into the "on" position. Push forward, not backward, to avoid applying excessive fertilizer, which can damage the lawn. To avoid "striping" the lawn with a drop spreader, divide the fertilizer in half and set the spreader to apply one half the rate listed then cover the lawn two times and make sure the second pattern you make is perpendicular to the first. For even coverage, continue to push your walk-behind spreader during application, especially when using a broadcast spreader.
• Always fill your spreader on the sidewalk or driveway to prevent fertilizer burn
• With a drop spreader, overlap the wheel with the mark from the previous path
• Never leave product in the spreader and wash thoroughly after each use
• Lubricate wheel bearings with oil and store in a dry place
• Avoid spreading lawn products on a windy day
|Irregular shape||• Apply a header strip all the way around the lawn
• Apply product back and forth in the longest direction first
• Make sure spreader is closed when you make a turn
• Steer slowly and smoothly around objects in your path
• Shut the spreader off when you reach the header strip
|Rectangular shape||• Apply two header strips across each end so you have a place to turn around
• Turn the spreader off and on at the end of the strip to prevent uneven application
• Before starting back, set the spreader in motion before opening the device in the
• Steer slowly and smoothly around objects in your path
• Keep the wheel about 4' from objects that you do not want to fertilize
• Overlap to prevent missing an area
Handheld Broadcasters: Handheld Broadcasters: Handheld spreaders are the most inexpensive type and are best used for spot treating your lawn or applying fertilizer or herbicide to small lawns or isolated areas of a larger lawn. You can also use these devices to apply small amounts of ice-melt in the winter. This type of spreader looks like a small container with a handheld trigger that releases small amounts of product. Handheld models can hold approximately 6-pounds of fertilizer or 3- pounds of grass seed.
Walk-Behind Broadcasters: Walk-behind broadcasters are essentially a bucket, or hopper, mounted on wheels, with a trigger that throws fertilizer in all directions as you push the handle of the device from behind. Some broadcast spreaders come with defectors, which help you get close enough to sidewalks and flower beds without actually spreading fertilizer on adjoining areas. Larger spreaders can accommodate up to 10,000-square feet of fertilizer and 130-pounds of weight.
Walk-Behind Drop Spreader: Walk-behind drop spreaders are essentially a bucket, or hopper, mounted on wheels, with a trigger mechanism that drops fertilizer directly downwards onto the lawn as you push the handle of the device from behind. The spreader also comes equipped with a turning device that allows you to adjust to the particle size or the amount being spread. Larger spreaders can accommodate up to 10,000-square feet of fertilizer and 130-pounds of weight.