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Lawn Spreader Basics

You want your lawn to look the best it can. Choosing the right lawn spreader is a good way to start.

There are three basic types of lawn spreaders: hand-held, broadcast and drop. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks. A lawn spreader can be used to fertilize your lawn, seed and even melt ice. It all can be spread with the same unit. It’s a good idea to find the application strategy that will work best for you long-term.

Handheld Spreader

Choosing A Lawn Spreader
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This type of lawn spreader is great for use in small or tight spaces. Whatever you add to the hopper is distributed broadcast style by using a hand crank. Handheld spreaders give you the mobility you need to apply ice melt in the winter. If accuracy is important, these units also give you the ability to treat a small patch of your lawn with seed or fertilizer.

Broadcast Spreader

Broadcast spreaders are by far the most popular type of lawn spreader available. A rotating disc distributes its contents in an arc-shaped manner. If accuracy is your priority, a broadcast spreader might not be what you need. Speed is the main purpose of these units.

Push: Push broadcast spreaders are walk behind devices, similar to lawn mowers. By pushing the spreader, the wheels turn a mixer inside the hopper. The broadcast device spreads the material over a wide area. They are great for a standard sized lawn.

Tow: These spreaders are attachments that can be pulled behind a lawn mower or ATV. If you have a very large area that needs to be seeded or fertilized, this type is your best bet.

Drop Spreader

Drop spreaders apply the material in a line straight down from the hopper. The materials are not spread, but distributed in an even line. This makes drop spreaders the best option for accurate distribution. The tricky part can be making sure you overlap your rows, avoiding striping when fertilizing. Striping results in different colored rows along your fertilizer pattern.

Other Factors to Consider

Wheel type: You may want to invest in lawn spreaders that have pneumatic wheels. Standard plastic wheels tend to slide along the grass. This can lead to slipping or uneven distribution of seed/fertilizer. Use gripping pneumatic wheels if you use your spreader for ice melting in the winter.

Keeping it safe

  • Always be sure to calibrate the lawn spreader according to the product manual. You want to be sure you’re spreading the product on your lawn at the recommended rate.
  • Read the directions on the material you are spreading. Some fertilizers can be harmful to touch or breathe.
  • Wear clothing that will keep harmful materials from reaching your skin.
  • Follow the pattern recommended on the product for distribution. Most fertilizers start with the perimeter of your lawn, and then zigzag to cover the rest. The most important factor is pace consistency. This helps to avoid overspreading by walking too slowly or under coverage if you speed up.
  • Close the spreader door when you are done.
  • Rinse the spreader completely when you are finished, especially after applying fertilizer to avoid rusting.

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