Choosing a Fertilizer Spreader

Spreading fertilizer will occur several times a year for the homeowner that desires a healthy, well manicured and weed-free lawn.

Essentially there are two types of fertilizer spreaders. They are the drop-spreader and the rotary style (sometimes referred to as a “broadcast” spreader). The drop spreader is better suited to smaller yards with few obstacles as it requires relatively straight lines to be followed in a overlapping pattern. As can be determined by the name, the drop spreader in fact drops the fertilizer or weed and feed product directly underneath it. A series of holes (20 or more) underneath the spreader meters the amount of fertilizer that is applied. This is by far the most precise way to apply fertilizer.

The rotary spreader “broadcasts” (slings) the fertilizer product outward from it in a pattern that generally encompasses a circle of about 3 feet in diameter. This spreader has just one hole underneath that drops the fertilizer onto a platform which rotates thus “broadcasting” the product in a predictable pattern. This pattern of spreading does not achieve the same degree of accuracy that is accomplished by the drop spreader, but will do well for most large yards. This pattern also means that less steps are required to complete the application process.

A small yard where a high degree of accuracy for the application of fertilizer is desired would probably dictate a drop spreader whereas a larger yard with several trees might be better suited to a rotary spreader. A yard that has many garden beds may be most suitable for a drop spreader as the precise application will prevent any product from getting into garden or vegetable beds as it may with a rotary spreader. Weed and feed fertilizers that get into garden or flower beds will prevent or kill desirable plants.

In either case, to insure proper coverage of the lawn area it is important to make parallel applications in one direction and then apply again in a path that is perpendicular to the first. This insures that all areas are well covered and prevents either over fertilizing or under fertilizing. Areas that have been missed or over applied will become obvious in about a week to 10 days.

In all cases make sure that the spreader is well washed after use. Fertilizers are corrosive and metal parts will deteriorate quickly if the spreader is not washed well. Plastic is often used in making spreaders and will normally last longer than metal ones.


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