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Make Life Easier With a Lawn Fertilizer Spreader

by Alex Russel, All About Lawns Columnist

Lawn Fertilizer Spreader
Lawn Fertilizer Spreader

If you use dry fertilizer on your lawn, it's hard to get a uniform application without the help of a lawn spreader. Without one, you may find fertilizer ends up in clumps, too much in some areas and too little in others.

Lawn spreaders come in two types: drop and centrifugal (also known as broadcast).
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The Drop Fertilizer Spreader

A drop spreader is what you normally see at garden centers and hardware stores. It is basically a glorified bucket with wheels that you push around as it drops powdered fertilizer onto your lawn from the bottom of the bucket.

If you are a homeowner with a lawn smaller less than 5,000 sq.ft. say, this type of inexpensive spreader should be all you need. Besides, drop spreaders tend to be more maneuverable in tight, awkward spaces and are relatively easy to use.

The Centrifugal Fertilizer Spreader

Centrifugal spreaders are a bit like drop spreaders except that they throw the material out in a wider swath, sometimes as wide as 8'. If you have a large area to cover, the centrifugal spreader is the way to go.

They can be a little trickier to use, since you need to keep up a steady walking speed in order to maintain a uniform distribution over your lawn. It's also harder to fertilize the edges of your lawn, although some centrifugal spreaders come with side deflectors, which let you get close to sidewalks, flowerbeds and driveways without spreading material on these adjacent areas.

Calibrating a Lawn Spreader

Most lawn fertilizer spreaders require calibration, even if the manufacturer provides guidelines for setting the spreader with different products. It's easy to calibrate and, if you make a note of your results, you only have to do it once for each product. Calibration differs from each type of lawn fertilizer, but the internet or your local garden center should give you the proper directions for your specific model of spreader.

There are some important, yet easy, rules of thumbs when using spreaders. First, always load a spreader on a surface where a spill can be cleaned up and won't matter (driveway, walkway, etc).

Second, the best spreading practice is to go around the periphery of the area you are treating first, ensuring a consistent application around the edge of your lawn. Then, run the spreader back and forth within the area bounded by your first perimeter run.

While covering this main portion of the lawn, if you can, apply the fertilizer at half the recommended rate and make two sets of runs, first back and forth in one direction, then again another set of runs perpendicularily to the first set. This ensures a good consistent coverage and it compensates for any uneven patches that may have happened on the first run.

Cleanup and Maintenance

It's always best to clean up as soon as your done as you can do it with the simple use of a brush, later dampness will require you to scrub and scrape.

About the Author
Alex Russel is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Since graduating from Syracuse University he has worked at many different media companies in fields as diverse as film, TV, advertising, and journalism. He holds a dual bachelor's degree in English and History.

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