Fertilizer Spreader Procedures-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. The material drops from the hopper onto a spinning disc that disperses it over the lawn. Overlap the coverage to avoid missing any spots. The further away from the spreader the material is thrown, the lighter the coverage. What you gain in coverage you may sacrifice in control. That same spinning disc can also scatter the material into a neighbor's yard or into the street. If you want complete control, think about getting a drop spreader. 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
Drop spreaders can easily cover straight lines with little waste, but they must be used with care. Since the material drops straight down in a width equal to that of the hopper, striping can occur if the entire area isn't covered equally. Striping is the distinctive pattern created when you miss or overlap rows.
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.
Push spreaders are very common. In small areas, a crank-operated handheld broadcast spreader is a great option. For larger landscapes, you'll find spreaders you can tow with a lawn or garden tractor, and even spreaders designed to attach to an ATV.
There are also spreaders designed to work only with specific lawn care products. With these models, you simply load the matching product package onto the spreader, lock it in place and go. There's no need for pouring or calibrating. These spreaders will not work with lawn care products not specifically designed for them, so make sure you get the right product.
Fertilizer Spreader Tips/Procedures
- Calibrate the spreader according to the manufacturer's specifications and the recommendations from the fertilizer, seed or lawn care product you're using.
- Follow the distribution pattern on the product package.
- Don't forget to close the spreader when you stop.
- Prolong the life of your spreader by cleaning it with a garden hose after each use.
- Fertilizer is caustic and can promote rust. An occasional oiling of metal parts in the wheels and spreader mechanism is a good idea.
- Move at a steady pace when spreading.
- Wear protective clothing and gear as recommended by the fertilizer or lawn care product manufacturer.
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?