▷ Choosing the Best Fertilizer Spreader for Your Lawn (2020 Update)
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Choosing the Best Fertilizer Spreader for Your Lawn

Written by Joseph Biggs and updated on May 30, 2018

Having a well-maintained lawn is something to be proud of as it takes a lot of hard work and effort to keep gardens looking their best. It also takes a lot of time, which is something many of us are short of these days.

You can make your life a little easier by investing in decent gardening tools, one of which is a fertilizer spreader. Here in this article, we aim to help you choose the best fertilizer spreader to suit your needs.

Why do I need a fertilizer spreader?

Before we delve too deeply into the different types of fertilizer spreaders there are and what to consider when making your purchase, just a quick look at some of the many benefits of using one:

  1. ensures an even spread of fertilizer on your lawn
  2. saves time and effort having to manually spread fertilizer
  3. there’s no need for direct contact with the fertilizer 
  4. more accurate than manually spreading

Types of fertilizer spreaders

Fertilizer spreaders come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and some are better than others depending on the type of lawn you’re dealing with. The following are the most common type of fertilizer spreaders you’re likely to come across:

Rotary/broadcast spreader

This type of spreader is used to spread dry fertilizers. It’s easy to use and provides even coverage. Many farmers prefer to use this type of spreader as it can cover a large area in a short space of time.

These spreaders consist of a bucket/hopper that releases fertilizer onto a disk which then distributes it in a small circle ahead of the machine. Provided you walk at a steady pace, they’re great for applying fertilizers to areas that are uneven. The application isn’t as accurate as if using a drop fertilizer spreader but you will get the job done much quicker.      

Hand-held fertilizer spreader

These spreaders are best used for small gardens or areas where a traditional spreader can’t get to, including walkways and patios.   

Drop fertilizer spreader

If you’re looking for accuracy, then a drop fertilizer spreader is the way to go. These spreader come in two further subtypes: those that are push-along and those that are pull-along. Push-along models are very effective for use on small lawns or in hard to reach areas, while pull-along models are usually attached to a riding mower.

Just like rotary fertilizer spreaders, these devices are regulated by the size of the opening at the base of the bucket/hopper and the pace in which you walk. As you move along, fertilizer will drop out in an even spread between the wheels. These spreaders are suitable for use with both granular fertilizer or uneven materials such as compost or mulch.

Liquid fertilizer spreader

This type of fertilizer spreader is best used for light fertilizing jobs. The problem is that while they’re quick and easy to use, they’re nowhere near as accurate as a drop or rotary fertilizer spreader.

Liquid fertilizer spreaders work by attaching a garden hose to a canister with an adapter nozzle. Fertilizer used in this kind of spreader is dry and quick dissolving. To apply it, simply hold down the sprayer’s handle and watch as it’s dispensed through the end nozzle.        

Considerations when purchasing a fertilizer spreader

As well as the type of fertilizer spreader that’s going to best suit your needs, there are a few other things you may want to consider before making your purchase:

Capacity

The size of fertilizer spreader you need will depend largely on the size of your lawn. If you have acres and acres of land to fertilize, a handheld spreader just isn’t going to cut it, and you’re best off using a rotary spreader. If however, you have a very small space to take care off and want something quick and easy to do the job, then a liquid fertilizer may be a better option for you.

Manual or electric?

This option comes down to personal preference (and budget, of course). A lot of people opt for manual spreaders as they have more control over the whole fertilization process. On the other hand, some people prefer electric spreaders as they require less effort and ensure a more even spread.

Durability

Fertilizer spreaders endure a lot of use and for that reason, they need to be durable. Stainless steel spreaders are more resistant to rust and are good at standing up to hard use. On the other hand, poly made spreaders are usually cheaper and more economical.    

Price

While the price does tend to vary according to the type of fertilizer spreader it is, most are relatively inexpensive. So for that reason, you should first focus on the type of spreader that’s best for your garden. Then from there, you can choose a spreader that’s of the highest quality and falls within your budget.

General tips on fertilizing and using a fertilizer spreader

Although fertilizer spreaders aren’t particularly difficult machines to operate, they can take a while to get used to if you’ve never used one before. And if you’re only just getting into gardening, you may not know very much about the whole fertilizing process. To help you along your way, the following are a few general tips that should make fertilizing and using a fertilizer spreader hassle-free:

  • Always load the hopper on a driveway, path, or another hard surface.

  • Clean up any spill immediately by simply scooping up the fertilizer and putting it back in the hopper.

  • To ensure an even spread across your lawn, always walk at a steady pace.

  • To prevent your spreader from corroding or rusting always wash it with water and oil and metal parts after fertilizing. 

  • Make sure the spreader has been calibrated as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Always close the opening of the spreader when turning or stopping.

  • Making crisscross patterns on your lawn is the most effective way to spread the fertilizer.

  • Spring is the best time to fertilize your lawn. Or, when the soil temperature reaches 55 degrees Fahrenheit, to be more precise.

  • Fertilizers come in two types: slow-releasing and fast-releasing. Those that are slow-releasing, break down the nutrients over a longer period of time, meaning you can fertilize your lawn less frequently. This is ideal for anyone who has very little spare time on their hands.

  • Whereas fertilizers that are fast-releasing dissolve quicker as they’re more water soluble. With this kind of fertilizer you can see lawn growth almost immediately, which is great if you’ve just planted a new lawn, but beware if using on an established lawn as the fast growth can create more work than necessary.    

  • The more frequent you water your lawn, the more you’ll need to fertilize it. So, if you use a sprinkler system you’ll need to apply fertilizer around every six weeks or so. Without a sprinkler, you can get away with around eight weeks in between applications.

Fertilizer Spreader Reviews

To help you come to a decision (if you’ve not already) as to which fertilizer spreader may be best for you, the following are a few short reviews on some of the more popular models available right now.