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:
- ensures an even spread of fertilizer on your lawn.
- saves time and effort having to manually spread fertilizer.
- there’s no need for direct contact with the fertilizer.
- 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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
Earthway 2150 Commercial 50-Pound Walk-Behind Broadcast Spreader
If you’re looking for a reliable broadcast spreader that’s of a decent size and won’t break in five minutes, then feast your eyes on this beast on offer from Earthway. The Earthway 2150 Broadcast Spreader is extremely easy to use and is great for fertilizing small to medium-sized gardens. It’s equipped with pneumatic tires that can handle pretty much any surface and has an extended handle to make pushing easier.
The heavy-duty frame is capable of supporting up to 175 pounds in weight while the poly hopper has a generous 50 pounds capacity. And, its patented EVE-N-Spread technology ensures you get a consistent spread each and every time you fertilize. Assembly can take a while, but once constructed, you’ll be pleased with the results.
Agri-Fab 45-0531 Deluxe Push 85-lb Spreader
With a frame that’s made from ½” tubular steel, a rust-proof poly hopper and spreader plate, and large pneumatic tires, you can be sure the Agri-Fab 45-0531 Deluxe Push Spreader will be around for quite some time. One of this spreaders best selling points is the generous 85-pound capacity hopper with a coverage width of an impressive 10-ft.
The parts are high quality and the large pneumatic tires make it easy to move around. It’s also pretty easy to assemble. And just in case you do run into any problems, there’s even a 5-year warranty replace any faulty parts. Just be aware that at 19 pounds it is a little heavier than many other spreaders out there.
Solo 421 20-Pound Capacity Portable Chest-Mount Spreader
Get full-on precision and accuracy with this portable chest-mount spreader on offer from Solo. It’s petite, portable design it’s perfect for getting to those hard to reach places where traditional spreaders can’t go. And because the controls are all at your fingertips, the accuracy on this spreader is better than most drop or rotary spreaders.
The Solo Chest-mount Spreader weighs in at just 7 pounds and has an adjustable shoulder strap attached, so it’s quite comfortable to use. And provided you walk at a steady pace, you’ll get an even coverage. Just make sure you clean this spreader after each use as is prone to blocking.
Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard Deluxe Broadcast Spreader
If you’re looking for a spreader that’s innovative, provides accurate coverage for your lawn, and is a great price then be sure to take a look at this fine example on offer from Scotts. Built with Scotts exclusive EdgeGuard Technology, and equipped with a mechanical control panel this spreader will only fertilize the areas you need to.
Its large capacity plastic hopper holds up to 15,000 sq ft of fertilizer, so is suitable for both small and medium sized lawns. There’s no assembly or calibration required. Simply pull it out of the box and it’s ready to use.
Scotts Turf Builder Classic Drop Spreader
Here we have another spreader on offer from Scotts, but this time of the drop variety. It’s made with a heavy-duty frame to ensure stability while on uneven ground, yet the wheels the hopper sits on are extremely flimsy and not quite up to the job. There’s no way to lock the control handle into position, and the spreader bar will only turn if the hopper is full.
This Scotts Drop Spreader comes already assembled and pre-calibrated which is good. And the price isn’t too bad either in comparison to most of its competitors. But, with the quality of most of the parts being substandard, who cares?
We hope you found the above information useful and are now feeling ready to purchase your next fertilizer spreader. Just as a quick recap, the best model out at the moment (in our opinion) is Earthway 2150 Commercial Broadcast Spreader. It’s solid, reliable and will get the job done well.
With pneumatic tires, it’s great at handling tough terrain and with a 50-gallon capacity, it’s more than adequate to fertilize both small and medium-sized lawns. It may be a little costly, but if it’s going to help keep your lawn looking fresh and green all year round, then surely it’s a small price to pay?