How to Use Fertilizer Spreaders (The Right Way!)

No matter which fertilizer spreaders you consider buying, uniform coverage is the key to success. And that comes down to the quality of the spreader.

Using cheap, plastic spreaders often produces poor spreading results. And that’s a waste of seed, fertilizer, time, and money. There’s also a good chance it will harm (or burn) your lawn.

So, if you’re going to do fertilize your lawn yourself (rather than hire a professional), it’s important to buy the best fertilizer spreader you can afford and follow these instructions.

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What are Fertilizer Spreaders?

Fertilizer spreaders are essential tools for any do-it-yourself homeowner who wants to maintain a healthy, thriving yard.

A fertilizer spreader distributes fertilizers evenly over lawns and gardens, so your grass and plants get the nutrients they need to stay healthy and beautiful.

The size of the area covered by each type of device varies depending on its design. Some models are suitable only for small spaces while others can cover larger lawns without wasting any product in between applications.

3 Types of Fertilizer Spreaders

There are two kinds of fertilizer spreaders: rotary spreaders and drop spreaders.

1. Rotary Spreaders (or Broadcast Spreaders)

These measure the granules (or seed) and throw them out in a broad swath that is usually several feet wide.

Consider buying or renting a rotary-style spreader if:

Example of Broadcast or Rotary Fertilizer spreaders commercial grade
Example of a high-quality (commercial grade) rotary spreader. These are also called broadcast fertilizer spreaders. Look for the P20 model from Spyker for a great residential spreader.

2. Drop Spreaders

Drop spreaders measure out the fertilizer and then drop it in as wide a space as the spreader is wide. The fertilizer does not get “thrown out” across a wider path; it just gets dropped onto whatever area the spreader goes over.

It’s a good match for you if:

Example of drop fertilizer spreaders commercial grade
Example of the type of commercial-grade drop fertilizer spreader that a professional lawn care company like American Landscapes might use. A homeowner will buy a much less expensive model, but they should purchase they highest quality they can afford.

3. Liquid Spreaders (or Spray Spreaders)

Liquid fertilizer spreaders use a pump or pressurized tank to force the liquid through a sprayer or nozzle that delivers a fine mist onto your lawn.

Although the liquid fertilizer and the spreader can be more expensive than granular spreaders, they do provide many advantages. Consider using a liquid spreader if:

Example of liquid fertilizer spreaders commercial grade
Example of a Spyker brand drop spreader for fertilizing lawns and gardens.

How to Set Up a Fertilizer Spreader

Do the following if your spreader’s label has the recommendations for setting your spreader:

If your spreader does not have a label with recommendations (being good with math is a plus…this is one good reason so many homeowners opt for a professional).

How to Spread Fertilizer

Follow these guidelines to ensure fertilizer spreading patterns that prevent damage (or poor results) to your lawn.

lawn care services cincinnati - fertilizer maintenance zach fert

1. For Regular-Shaped Lawns

2. For Irregular-Shaped Lawns


Safely fertilizing your lawn is more difficult than it looks. It requires quality equipment, knowledge about nutrients such as nitrogen levels, spreading patterns, and even math calculations.

But if you follow the above guidelines for properly using fertilizer spreaders, your efforts should result in a healthy, growing Cincinnati lawn.

Need More Help?

Need help with a fertilizer spreader or fertilizing your Cincinnati lawn? Just contact American Landscapes here for a free, no-obligation estimate. Or call us at (513) 947-8727.

You can also learn more about our lawn care, landscaping, and outdoor lighting services by reading our blog. In addition to fertilizer and weed control, we also provide mosquito control, lawn aeration, lawn seeding, and much more.