How to Use a Lawn Fertilizer Spreader

A lawn fertilizer spreader is not only a labor saving device; it's a great way to make sure you apply materials in a uniform manner. A lawn fertilizer spreader is useful for spreading a range of materials: fertilizer, grass seed and even salt on your driveway.

Larger spreaders are push-behind devices similar to a lawnmower. As you push a fertilizer spreader, the wheels turn a mixer that keeps the material in the spreader loose. Openings in the bottom of the hopper drop the material either directly to the ground or to a broadcast device that spreads the material over a wide area.

Types Of Fertilizer Spreaders
There are three main types of fertilizer spreaders: broadcast, drop and handheld.

A broadcast spreader uses a rotating disk to spread fertilizer over an arc-shaped area. Broadcast fertilizer spreaders are good at covering a large area quickly. Accuracy is sacrificed for speed, however. Be careful around the edges of the fertilized area to avoid over-spray.

A drop spreader applies fertilizer in a zone equal to the width of the hopper. The material drops straight down, making a drop spreader the perfect choice where accuracy is at a premium. Using a drop-type fertilizer spreader can be tricky. Failing to correctly overlap your rows can lead to striping in your lawn. Striping will be obvious to you (and your neighbors) as different colored rows along your fertilizing pattern.

A handheld fertilizer spreader works just like a broadcast spreader, using a hand crank to rotate the delivery disk. A handheld spreader gives you the mobility and accuracy to spread material in small or tight locations.

Using a Fertilizer Spreader
Calibrate first. Always calibrate your fertilizer spreader before use. Following the manufacturer's instructions for calibration will ensure that you apply fertilizer at the correct rate.

  • Know the material that you are spreading. Some materials can be hazardous to touch or breathe. Check the labeling on the material that you are spreading and wear protective gear as needed.
  • Choose the right setting. Follow the product's recommended delivery rate and set the rate on your spreader. If your spreader is not listed, check your owner's manual for a generic setting.
  • Follow A Pattern. Follow the distribution pattern recommended on the product's packaging. Generally, you'll want to apply fertilizer around the perimeter of your yard first, then in a zigzag pattern to cover the rest of the lawn.
    Be consistent. Try to walk at a consistent pace when using a push-behind fertilizer spreader. Slowing down or speeding up will result in uneven application of your fertilizer.
  • Close the door behind you. Always close the drop door of your spreader when you stop. Excess material will collect under the spreader and could lead to "burning" your lawn with too much fertilizer.
  • Clean up after yourself. Fertilizer and other chemicals can be caustic and rust metal parts of your spreader. Be sure to hose off your fertilizer spreader after every use.
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