How to Restore a Lawn Full of Weeds If your lawn is patchy and full of weeds, it will never be the envy of the neighborhood. What you’re after is a lush, green lawn with even grass and no Weed & feed is a mixture of fertilizer and broad-leafed herbicide, mainly used to make … Read More… The best fertilizer spreaders allow you to maintain a lush lawn easily. We put our top picks to the test to see how each performed. Check out our reviews here.
How to Restore a Lawn Full of Weeds
If your lawn is patchy and full of weeds, it will never be the envy of the neighborhood. What you’re after is a lush, green lawn with even grass and no dandelions poking their way through. That may sound hard to achieve, but it isn’t too difficult if you follow these steps.
If you only have a few pesky weeds punctuating your lawn, you may be able to dig them up by hand—paying careful attention to make sure you get them roots and all. But if your lawn is overrun with weeds, you may need to start from scratch. Here’s our how-to guide on restoring a lawn full of weeds.
Once your lawn is nice and green, we recommend hiring a professional lawn care company to help you maintain it to keep it weed-free. Our top recommendation goes to industry leader TruGreen.
Restoring a Lawn Full of Weeds in 10 Steps
Step 1: Identify the Weeds You Have
In order to make a successful game plan, you’ll need to know just what kind of weeds you’re dealing with. Weed treatments are designed to target specific weeds, so what may work on your broadleaf weeds may leave your grass-like weeds A-OK.
Weeds come in multiple categories, either broadleaf, grass-like, or grassy.
- Appearance: Broad, flat leaves
- Common types: Clover, ground ivy, dandelions, chickweed
- Appearance: Similar to grass, with hollow leaves in a triangular or tube shape
- Common types: Nutsedge, wild garlic, wild onion
- Appearance: Resembles grass, grows one leaf at a time
- Common types: Foxtail, annual bluegrass, quackgrass, crabgrass
Weeds can be broken down further into categories based on their life cycle—annual, biennial, or perennial.
- Annual: Produces seeds during one season only
- Biennial: Produces seeds during two back-to-back seasons
- Perennial: Produces seeds over many seasons
Step 2: Select a Proper Herbicide
Next, it’s time to select the proper weed treatment based on both weed classification and the stage in their life cycle. Pre-emergent herbicides tackle weed issues before they spring up. Post-emergent herbicides target established weeds.
Keep in mind that herbicides can kill whatever plant life they come into contact with—even if the label says otherwise—so handle with care. If your aim is to re-establish your lawn, as we recommend, killing your existing, thinning grass isn’t a big deal, since you will need to start fresh anyway.
Step 3: Apply the Treatment
For this step, it’s crucial that you follow the directions to the letter. Make sure you apply the proper product at the proper time. It’s a good idea to check out the forecast beforehand, since you don’t want any storms to wash away your herbicide.
*First application. See quote for terms and conditions.
Step 4: Wait It Out
How soon you can plant seed depends on the type of weed treatment you choose. Pre-emergent herbicides will prevent grass seeds from growing just as much as weed seeds, so it would be no good to sow seeds immediately after.
Depending on the type of weed treatment you choose, you may need to wait for up to four weeks. You can ask your local garden center for information about when it’s safe to plant.
Step 5: Rake and Till
Once the weeds—and grass, if applicable—turn brown, it’s time to bust out your rake. Rake up as much of the weeds as you can. Use your tilling fork to pull any extra weeds out and till the soil to prepare it for your amendments and seed.
Step 6: Dethatch and Aerate
Aerating your lawn can help break up thatch, the layer of decomposing organic matter between your lawn’s soil and grass blades. Thatch can be beneficial, since it can make your lawn more resilient and provide insulation from extreme temperatures and changes in soil moisture. But if it gets over a half-inch in thickness, it can cause root damage, including root rot.
Your raking and tilling from the previous step can help with dethatching, but you can also use a dethatching rake if the layer is too excessive.
Aeration improves your grassroots’ access to air, nutrients, and water. Use a spike or core aerator to break up the soil. If you use a core aerator, be sure to make two to three passes in different directions. Allow the plugs of soil you remove to decompose on top of your soil layer rather than remove them.
Step 7: Amend the Soil
Now, you can apply your soil amendment to ready your soil for the grass seed or sod.
Step 8: Lay Down Seed or Sod
You have a choice ahead of you. Do you want to lay down seed or sod? There are pros and cons to each.
- Pros: Less expensive, more variety
- Cons: Takes longer to germinate, can only lay at certain times of year depending on grass type
- Pros: Instant grass, can lay any time of year, requires little maintenance
- Cons: More costly, less variety in grass can mean less healthy lawn overall
To prepare the soil after either method, make sure you till it down to roughly 6 to 8 inches.
First, you need to choose the right type of seed for your lawn. That will depend on the region you live in—one that needs cool-season grasses, warm-season grasses, or a transition zone that allows more flexibility. After you determine which category you need, you can select specific grasses that may have attributes you’re after, like heat- or drought-resistance.
To seed your lawn, lay down approximately 1 inch of topsoil, then use a spreader to apply the seed to the soil.
We recommend using two different types of spreaders. For the majority of the work, you should use a broadcast spreader because they distribute seed evenly, allowing for thorough coverage. But you’ll want to use a drop spreader around the edges of garden beds to make sure you don’t inadvertently drop seed into them.
Always set the spreader to half the recommended drop rate and spread the seed in one direction, then one or two more in different directions to make sure the coverage is nice and even. You don’t want your lawn to have weird patterns or stripes.
Applying the right amount of seed is key. As a general rule of thumb, apply roughly 15 seeds per each square inch, then rake over the seed.
Top the seed with top dressing no greater than ¼ inch thick.
Then, it’s time to add starter fertilizer. Your best bet is to use a starter fertilizer high in phosphorus. However, due to concerns about water pollution, many states prohibit the use of phosphorus in fertilizers. Some states may allow phosphorus in fertilizers for establishing new lawns. If so, you’ll find fertilizers labeled “new lawn” or “starter fertilizer.”
Step 9: Water Your Lawn
Deep, infrequent watering can help establish your lawn by allowing it to grow deep roots, which can compete against weeds. Try to water your lawn about twice a week, in the morning before the heat of the day sets in. Lawns typically need about 1.5 inches of water per week, but that could vary based on the climate you live in and the type of grass seed you chose.
Step 10: Maintain Your Lawn
Proper maintenance is critical if you want your newly established lawn to stay weed-free. Mow at either the highest or second-highest setting. Vigorous grass won’t be choked out by weeds. Fertilize your lawn as needed to help it thrive.
Can I Use A Hand Spreader For Weed And Feed? How to Use a Fertilizer and Seed Spreader?
Weed & feed is a mixture of fertilizer and broad-leafed herbicide, mainly used to make grass strong and thick while killing harmful weeds. Utilize your bare hands or a gardening tool to remove weeds from your yard.
Now the burning question is, can I use a hand spreader for weed and feed?
Yes, you can use a hand spreader for weed and feed since it contains fertilizers too. But the knowing the right way to use this gardening tool is necessary. If you spread weed and feed wrongly, you may harm grass and other plants.
Can I Use A Hand Spreader For Weed And Feed?
A hand spreader is an affordable gardening tool to spread fertilizers equally and effortlessly. So, you are here to know, can I use a hand spreader for weed and feed?
If you know the right method of using a hand spreader, you can use it for Weed & Seed. This small gardening tool features a container to keep fertilizers or seeds.
Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Spreader
The following hand spreader is the best hand spreader for weed or seed available in the market.
The device has a crank handle to spread fertilizers evenly. So, you can start or stop dispersing the materials instantly whenever you want.
How to Use a Fertilizer and Seed Spreader?
Most beginners won’t face any hassle using a hand spreader for weed and feed—all you need to walk behind the spreader to spread the materials evenly.
However, hand spreaders come in various types. So you want to follow the instruction manual based on the model you have.
- If your hand spreader features the setting for the broadcast area, select a particular option.
- Keep the hand spreader to the garden pathway before adding the product. If you spill it accidentally, the cleaning task will be trouble-free.
- Now, add the right amount of weed and seed to the container. Follow the product label to learn how much you should use. Since it is a chemical substance, avoid over-feeding.
- Finally, start pulling the machine forward while walking behind it. Apply pressure on the handle to disperse Weed & Feed equally in your lawn.
- If you want to stop on the midway, crank the handle. Make sure you apply the solution evenly without overdoing it in any spot.
- Once the application process is complete, clean the tool properly since chemical substances are in the container.
When to Apply Weed & Feed in Lawn?
Everything has a perfect time to do, and so does for Weed & Feed. When weeds reach their active growth stage, they can absorb the chemical fast and better.
So, when to apply weed & feed?
Winter is not a perfect time to use this chemical because most weeds are not active when low temperatures. When the grass is wet or damp, it is the best time to apply Weed & Feed. In such conditions, the substances stay properly on the verdant area of the weeds.
However, you want to be more cautious about the post-timing of the chemical. Choose a date when no possibility of rain for the next 48 hours after application. The solution will properly enter inside the leaves within this time.
Accidental rain may wash off the solution from the weed leaves. Re-applying it instantly after rain is not recommended. Over-feeding will incur. It may burn much grass along with weeds.
How to Spread Weed & Feed in Your Lawn?
Though spreading Weed & Feed is easy, you want to consider few essential factors while doing it. Taking the appropriate steps will help you to get your desired results. However, we want you to give more priority to the manufacturing company recommendation.
1. Big Enough!
Before applying the solution, confirm that your lawn has around 3-5 inches tall. The solution won’t be effective to use on the too-short lawn.
2. 3-4 Days Gaps
If it is excessively tall, mow it and keep a 3-4 days gap before applying the product. This small break allows the
3. Don’t Pick Summer Season
You don’t want to apply any water for 3-4 days after applying Weed & Feed. So, the summer season won’t be a perfect time to apply granules.
4. Not More; Not Less
As the product is powerful, avoid over-application. You may end up burning or killing your whole lawn. Follow the producer’s instructions.
5. Two Times Application
Two times application throughout the year is enough. You don’t need more. The solution may move from your garden to nearby ponds or gardens and harm the plants, fishes, and animals.
6. Choose Perfect Gardening Tool
Choose an effective gardening tool such as a hand spreader to spread Weed & Feed. It will ensure balanced distribution. Instead of using them in one pass, make two passes by dividing the whole quantity.
This will prevent both overdoing and underdoing. The reason is that after one application, you can check out which area got more solutions and which site got fewer. Then re-apply them properly.
7. Be Cautious!
Since it is a chemical-based product, be careful while applying it. Make sure you don’t use it on nearby flowers, fruits, or other plants.
If they are close to the lawn, cover them with a large plastic sheet before using the product. Remove the sheet after spreading and drying them properly.
EarthWay 3100 Professional 40 LB Portable Chest Mount Hand Crank Broadcast Spreader Including Even Spread Technology, Comfortable & Adjustable Harness Strap And Rain Cover
What if You Apply Too Much Weed & Feed?
Applying a perfect amount of Weed & Feed is necessary. It should be neither too much nor too less. A low amount neither adequately kills all the weeds from your lawn nor makes your yard strong. However, an excessive amount may burn or kill grass or other plants.
So, what if you apply too much weed & feed?
After using the weed and feed, unintentional water collected in void spaces is occur by the salt composition. But when you over-apply it, it becomes extremely dehydrated.
The original color of the lawn will fade, and it may become brown or yellow. This type of situation is called overabundance. But the good news is that you can restore its original structure if you take action instantly.
What If You Apply Too Much Weed & Feed?
However, if the color of your lawn has already become too dark, it may not be possible to treat your lawn. In such a situation, you have no option but restart your lawn garden again for a particular area.
So, how will you know if you have applied too much Weed & Feed?
Checking the product label is one of the essential tasks you want to do. You will learn how much you are recommended to use for each square foot.
Here are other crucial factors you can also add to your list while wondering, “What if you apply too much weed & feed?”
|1||What are the ingredients included in the Weed & Feed?|
|2||What is your arrangement of soil particles and soil shape?|
|3||How many weeds have grown, and how old are they?|
Misused Weed & Feed, Repairable? How to Repair? Step by Step Guide
Here comes the important part if you already misused Weed & Feed. It is probably on your mind how to correct the problem. We have already mentioned when it is possible to tackle the condition and when not.
Step 1 —Removing The Substances
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Whenever you think you have overdosed on your lawn, remove the substance along with the soil from the particular area. It will prevent the solution from spreading to other sites.
So, how will you remove it? You can either use your bare hands or a handy gardening tool such as a hoe to dig out the soil and remove them.
Step 2 —Applying Water
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The next task is applying water properly. Since you have overdosed on the grass, they might be burned moderately or heavily. Watering them will regain the situation.
Initially, you may soil fully dry and dull even after water application. The reason is that the salt level on the ground increased heavily.
Hence, one or two times application won’t give you effective results. You want to apply water for a minimum of one week to reduce the salt level sufficiently.
Step 3 — Showing Forbearance
One of the most patience-requiring tasks is gardening. Without patience, you will not get your desired results.
You might be thinking I should immediately plant new grass since my garden soil finally comes to normal condition. But, No!
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You want to wait a minimum of 2-3 months to replant new grass. We know it feels a little bit awkward. But most gardeners suggest it.
If you replant grass before the time, your lawn won’t be healthy, rich, and super strong. Nothing you have worked for will be worth it.
You should also use a lawn repair.
Scotts EZ Patch Lawn Repair For St. Augustine Lawns – 3.75 Lb., Ready-to-use Mulch, And Fertilizer Lawn Repair, Repairs St. Augustinegrass, Does Not Contain Grass Seeds, Covers Up To 85 Sq. Ft.
How To Get A Great Lawn: 5 Easy Tips
- Never forget to cut your lawn when they reach the perfect height.
- Use various advanced gardening devices such as rain sensors, smart controllers, soil moisture sensors, etc, to improve in-ground irrigation systems.
- Fertilize the lawn correctly, properly, and timely.
- Kill existing weeds soonest.
- Reseed lawn each year.
Hopefully, the query to the question “Can I use a hand spreader for weed and feed?” is clear from the above discussion. Make sure to take care of your lawn properly by following our instructions and tips. Happy Gardening!
Last update on 2022-01-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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clean the tool properly – Etsy, eBay
About Lee Safin
Lee Safin was born near Sacramento, California on a prune growing farm. His parents were immigrants from Russia who had fled the Bolshevik Revolution. They were determined to give their children a better life than they had known. Education was the key for Lee and his siblings, so they could make their own way in the world. Lee attended five universities, where he studied plant sciences and soil technologies. He also has many years of experience in the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a commercial fertilizer formulator.
The Best Fertilizer Spreaders of 2022
A high-quality fertilizer spreader saves time and money while helping users grow and maintain a lush yard.
By Mark Wolfe | Updated Dec 29, 2021 11:27 AM
BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Photo: Mark Wolfe
Whether seeding a new lawn, feeding an existing garden, or treating a yard for bug infestations, a fertilizer spreader is an invaluable tool. Sure, seeds and fertilizer can be spread by hand, but it takes longer, produces inconsistent results, and it puts the user in contact with potentially dangerous chemicals.
A fertilizer spreader may be used to apply any lawn treatment, including grass seed, lime, insecticide, fungicide, and of course, fertilizer. These machines apply products evenly so that the entire yard can be treated, resulting in less product waste and less time and effort. A fertilizer spreader may also be used in the off-season to spread salt on icy walkways and paths.
We researched and tested some of the highest-rated fertilizer spreaders available. Just ahead, our results and the shopping considerations we’ve outlined will help narrow the field and help you find the right kind of spreader.
- BEST OVERALL:Earthway Even Spread 2150 Commercial Spreader
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard Mini Spreader
- UPGRADE PICK:Scotts Elite Spreader
- BEST FOR LARGE YARDS:Agri-Fab SmartSpreader 130 lb. Push Spreader
- BEST PULL-BEHIND:Agri-Fab 45-0463, 130-Pound Tow Behind Spreader
- BEST DROP:Scotts 76565 Turf Builder Classic Drop Spreader
- BEST HANDHELD:Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Spreader
Photo: Mark Wolfe
Types of Fertilizer Spreaders
Two basic types of spreaders exist for dry applications––rotary spreaders, also known as broadcast spreaders—and drop spreaders. There are also spreaders designed for liquid chemicals.
A rotary spreader uses a rotating base plate to disperse seeds or granules that pour slowly from a hopper. They are called broadcast spreaders because they throw the product several feet to the front and sides of the spreader path.
Rotary spreaders cover an area three times their width, or broader, on every pass. These are the fastest tools you can use to spread dry materials, but their spreading abilities are less accurate than those of drop spreaders. Rotary spreaders are available in several sizes, so you can buy one that works for a tiny garden, a large estate lawn, and anything in the middle.
When precision is critical, choose a drop spreader. These devices drop a swath of product through a wide, narrow opening directly beneath the spreader. They provide calibrated coverage, but the precision boosts the chance that the user will miss or double-cover an area.
For users who have a precise area to cover, this tool is ideal. Users can easily control where a drop spreader distributes the product because it only drops between its wheels. The downside is that users spend more time covering a lawn if using a drop spreader instead of a rotary spreader.
The most efficient way to spread liquid fertilizer and other liquid lawn treatments is with a hose-end chemical spreader/sprayer. These devices automatically mix the correct proportion of concentrated chemicals with a flowing stream of water that travels through the spreader and out the nozzle.
Liquid spreaders are especially useful as secondary tools for emergency treatments such as for bug infestations. They allow users to apply the coverage quickly, although they are less accurate than the other two types of spreaders. Remember, too, that liquid lawn chemicals deliver fast results, but most liquids dissipate more quickly than granules, so regular use is costly.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Fertilizer Spreader
Before choosing a particular spreader, consider various features and the yard or area on which you want to use the tool. How much property will the spreader need to cover? Do you want to push the spreader by hand, or do you want to pull it behind a lawn tractor or other vehicle? Do you need one that is fully assembled? Consider the following highly rated spreaders to make the proper choice for you.
Method of Operation
The most popular spreaders are broadcast because they offer a balance between speed and precision. Manufacturers make these spreaders in a wide range of sizes from small, handheld models to extra-large spreaders that can be pulled behind vehicles.
Drop spreaders are the best choice when users must navigate obstacles and narrow spaces. They work exceptionally well on small to medium intensively landscaped yards.
It is important to know the spreader’s holding capacity because that will determine how often the spreader will have to be refilled based on the size of the area it needs to cover. Ideally, users will want to simply fill the spreader once and deposit the treatment on the entire area.
Holding capacity and lawn size go hand in hand. A handheld spreader is well suited for small lawns up to 1,500 square feet. For medium-size lawns up to 5,000 square feet, a small walk-behind spreader suits the job. Large walk-behind spreaders work well for yards up to about 20,000 square feet. Go for a tow-behind spreader if the yard is larger than half an acre.
Spreading capacity refers to the types of materials a spreader can handle. All fertilizer spreaders are capable of spreading grass seeds and pelletized chemicals, but far fewer can handle sand, powdered lime, and compost.
All lawn spreaders deliver better precision than spreading fertilizer by hand. Still, some spreaders are more precise than their competitors. Accuracy and speed oppose one another in the case of spreaders. Drop spreaders are precise but slower. Broadcast spreaders are a bit less accurate, but faster. Liquid spreaders are not exact, but quite fast.
Drop spreaders are the most precise because manufacturers calibrate them for a consistent flow rate to spread only a thin band directly beneath the hopper, situated between the wheels. You can calibrate a broadcast spreader to deliver a steady flow rate, but you must walk at a consistent pace for even coverage. Manufacturers calibrate liquid spreaders to mix the amount of concentrate per gallon of water accurately, but you are in control of the coverage.
Our Top Picks
Consider the top picks laid out below and our findings when we tried each. We chose these models for testing based on their overall spreading capacity, holding capacity, precision, and method of operation. Read on to find out how each one performed in our hands-on testing.
Earthway Even Spread 2150 Commercial Spreader
The Earthway 50-pound walk-behind broadcast spreader is a commercial grade, multiuse spreader that measures 15.75 by 14.5 by 23.63 inches. The heavy-duty plastic hopper handles yards measuring from 10,000 square feet up to an acre. The two-position height adjustment handle and the T-speed lever provide excellent operator comfort and control for users of different heights. The even-spread three-hole drop shutoff system ensures a consistent spread pattern, and a feathered spread edge ensures a smooth application.
The frame is engineered with a 175-pound load-bearing limit for durability under rugged operating conditions such as uneven terrain. The 13-inch-diameter stud tires on rustproof, poly-constructed rims provide long-term durability and smooth operation. The commercial-grade, super-duty gearbox is built to last for years. Users can expect to spend a few hours on the assembly and calibration of this spreader.
In testing, we appreciated the easy-to-follow assembly instructions and heavy-duty components. This spreader feels durable, is comfortable to operate, and easy to control.
- Heavy-duty components
- Easy-to-follow instructions
- Smooth operation
- Higher price than the competition
- Bulky, difficult to store
- Does not include a rain cover
Best Bang for the Buck
Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard Mini Spreader
Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard Mini Broadcast Spreader is small, lightweight, and easy to store in limited space, thanks in part to a fold-down handle on this 1-pound spreader that measures 16 by 20 by 45.25 inches. It’s built to hold up to 5,000 square feet of lawn products, so it suits yards up to 10,000 square feet.
Users can use the control panel with precision rate settings for more accurate coverage. The EdgeGuard feature blocks coverage on the right side of the spreader to prevent the lawn treatment from being spread onto sidewalks or flower beds.
While testing, we appreciated that this lightweight spreader with hard plastic wheels requires no assembly. It comes at an affordable price and is calibrated. When not in use, the handles fold down for easy storage. The skinny hard wheels did not roll as smoothly across uneven ground as air tires. Also, the final bits of the product tend to stick to the bottom of the spreader due to static.
- Type: Walk-behind, rotary
- Capacity: 25 pounds
- Flow controller: Dial and spring lever
- Affordable price
- Requires no calibration
- Small size and foldable handle for easy storage
- Difficult to spread the last bit of material
- Requires more effort over uneven ground
- Not as durable as top models
Scotts Elite Spreader
Load the Scotts Elite Spreader with 60 pounds of product, or enough to cover up to 20,000 square feet, and you’ll have the work done in no time. The key to this spreader’s speedy operation is the twin discharge design that allows it to put out the product twice as fast. It lays down an even 6-foot-wide path.
This spreader is suitable for spreading all sorts of materials, including corrosive rock salt and other ice-melt products. The comfortable ergonomic handle includes a smartphone holder so you can stay connected as you work.
We liked how easily the Scotts Elite assembled; we simply snapped on the wheels and unfolded the handle. The soft plastic wheels roll much more easily over varying terrain than the standard hard-plastic wheels on less expensive Scotts spreaders, but not as well as air-filled tires. This would be a good all-around spreader for midsize suburban yards, especially in icy climates.
- Type: Walk-behind, rotary
- Capacity: 60 pounds
- Flow controller: Dial and spring lever
- Coverage is more consistent than basic Scotts spreaders
- Arrives calibrated and mostly preassembled
- Folds down for easy storage
- Large hopper holds up to 60 pounds
- Some fertilizer discharges toward the wheel
- Not ideal for smaller lawns
- Wheels are not great for rough ground
Best for Large Yards
Agri-Fab SmartSpreader 130 lb. Push Spreader
The Agri-Fab Push Broadcast Spreader’s 130-pound capacity is designed for yards up to 1 acre in size. A steel rod flow-control arm makes it easy for users to open and close the rustproof poly-constructed hopper during spreading, and the heavy-duty 1-inch pneumatic tires offer a smooth ride even over roots and rocks or through dips in the yard.
For all that heft, the spreader weighs only 6.81 pounds and measures just 48 by 27.1 by 33.6 inches. Depending on your speed and application, this spreader can cover 25,000 square feet of the ground.
We assembled this spreader in about an hour, and it took another 10 minutes or so to calibrate it. The giant hopper appears to hold close to three times as much as the 50-pound spreaders we tested. Although we did not load it to capacity with fertilizer, we placed more than 100 pounds of weight on the hopper to see how it would move, and there were no problems. Although the hopper capacity is significantly greater, the path of coverage was about the same as the 50-pounders, so the savings would be on reloading time.
- Huge capacity
- Large air-filled tires
- Smooth-operating control arm
- Gearbox feels a bit undersized for the potential weight
- Coverage path could be wider
- Steel frame will corrode over time
Agri-Fab 45-0463, 130-Pound Tow Behind Spreader
A tow-behind spreader works well when spreading seed and other materials over an acre or more. Use this spreader’s universal hitch to couple the Agri-Fab 130-Pound Tow Behind Broadcast Spreader with a lawn tractor, a riding lawn mower, or other tractor or vehicle. Users will find this spreader is quite maneuverable, and its spreading ability is even due to a steel-constructed direct flow control arm that users operate from the driver’s seat.
This spreader features a 130-pound capacity with a heavy-duty plastic hopper. It has 13-inch pneumatic tires and a steel frame.
We liked the squatty dimensions and 13-inch pneumatic tires when trying out this tow-behind model. The low height makes loading easier and leads to good stability on hilly ground. The short hitch length made it easy to maneuver around curves, but the control lever, located on the trailer tongue, was somewhat awkward to operate from the mower seat.
- Stable design, low center of gravity
- Large hopper capacity
- Short trailer tongue, easy to maneuver
- Steel frame will corrode over time
- Control arm awkward to maneuver from mower seat
- Gearbox seems a bit undersized
Scotts 76565 Turf Builder Classic Drop Spreader
The Scotts Classic Drop Spreader has a large, heavy-duty plastic hopper that holds enough product to cover up to 10,000 square feet. Its 22-inch spread pattern provides excellent coverage and accuracy that users manage with a cable-driven gate control on the handle. The model measures 18 by 32 by 47 inches.
The user selects any of the 23 spreader settings. To operate, squeeze the handle to open the hopper and loosen your grip to stop the flow.
We liked that this spreader came preassembled and calibrated. It laid a highly consistent path of fertilizer, but care must be taken to avoid gaps in coverage. Like the other Scotts spreaders, this one features hard plastic wheels that sometimes struggle on uneven ground or imperfect grass. The tubular frame seems strong and durable, but the other parts are mainly lightweight plastic. This spreader would make a good choice for occasional use on a small property, especially where numerous plant beds, sidewalks, tree rings, and other obstacles break up the lawn area.
- Type: Walk-behind, drop
- Capacity: 32 pounds
- Flow controller: Dial and spring lever
- Extremely accurate
- Great for working near sensitive areas
- Durable construction
- Does not hide gaps in coverage
- Too slow for large spaces
- Plastic wheels are not great for imperfect ground
Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Spreader
The Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Spreader is a convenient year-round tool for small yards. The small size––it measures just 13.1 by 8.7 by 8.5 inches and weighs just over a pound––is durable and easy to store. It’s constructed from plastic so users can spread fertilizer, ice melt, and other products without the worry that they will corrode the spreader as they might with its metal counterparts.
We liked this spreader because it takes up almost no storage space and is super easy to operate. Fill the hopper, squeeze the trigger, and turn the handle to operate it. An adjustment dial controls the opening width, and the trigger opens the hopper gate to release the material as you turn the baseplate crank. A slide-out wrist support helped to steady the hopper and reduced operator fatigue while testing. This would be a good tool for patching bare spots with grass seed, treating small or difficult-to-reach grass areas, or for spreading ice-melt products.
- Type: Handheld, rotary
- Capacity: 2 pounds
- Flow controller: Spring trigger and hand crank
- Small size takes up almost no storage space
- Noncorrosive construction
- Less accurate than walk-behind types
- Not suitable for small/fine particles
- Inconsistent flow
Although the price is a bit high, it’s tough to beat the combination of simplicity and durability of the Earthway Spreader. The components are heavy duty and made with materials specifically designed for use with corrosive materials like fertilizer and rock salt. Plus, the pneumatic tires let it roll smoothly anywhere.
Those with compact landscapes may find the Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard spreader to be more convenient. It is a budget-friendly alternative that comes calibrated and assembled for use. The EdgeGuard function and small size allow it to navigate tight spaces while controlling where the material falls. And, it stores away in just a few square feet of space.
How We Tested the Best Fertilizer Spreaders
We wanted to review the most critical features of these tools to determine where each model would work best. In a real-world setting, the most important functions include distribution width, accuracy, and consistency; ease of controlling the on-off function while in motion; maneuverability over varying terrain; and user comfort. We also wanted to evaluate and share the difficulty of assembly and amount of time spent in assembly and calibration.
After assembly, we loaded each spreader with lawn fertilizer and ran it across a tarp on level ground to measure the discharge width and consistently. At the same time, we tested the on-off functionality while moving, which is important at start-up and when preparing for end turns. Finally, we pushed or pulled each spreader through a variable-terrain course, observing the way it rolled over bumps and dips and navigated corners.
We found that the rotary spreaders compared closely with one another on the tarp-surface test. The handheld and the Scotts mini cast a 4 to 5 foot path, while the larger models discharged a swath just over 6 feet wide, all with a moderate amount of consistency. The drop spreader was highly consistent, dropping an even layer measuring precisely the width between its own wheels. Air-filled tires consistently performed significantly better than hard plastic wheels on the terrain test.
The Advantages of Fertilizer Spreader Ownership
A fertilizer spreader simplifies lawn treatments because it allows users to quickly and evenly apply seed, fertilizer, and lawn pest control products. You will also save time and money when you use a spreader because it allows you to quickly and evenly apply lawn products.
- Spreaders apply lawn treatments far more evenly than hand spreading.
- Fertilizer spreaders significantly reduce the time and effort users expend to apply lawn treatments.
- The use of a fertilizer spreader minimizes the user’s exposure to lawn chemicals.
Now that you’ve chosen the best fertilizer spreader for your yard, you may have a few questions. The following are answers to some frequently asked questions about operating and caring for fertilizer spreaders.
Q. How do you use a fertilizer spreader?
Refer to your spreader owner’s manual to find the correct setting for the product you will spread. The product label tells you how many pounds to apply per 1,000 square feet.
Load the hopper with enough product for the square footage of the area you will cover. Select the correct setting for the material you spread, squeeze the handle, and walk from one corner of the yard, continuing in straight parallel lines until the area is covered.
Q. How do you spread fertilizer without a spreader?
You can spread fertilizer by hand, though your results might not be as consistent as they are with a spreader. Don gloves and pour granular fertilizer into a plastic bucket. Start to walk at one corner of the yard and toss fertilizer or other product out in a sweeping motion as you walk in straight lines across the area. You want to pace your walk so that you spread the product as evenly as possible and don’t run out of fertilizer until the end.
For more even coverage, apply half the fertilizer while you walk in parallel lines in one direction, then apply the other half while you walk in a perpendicular set of parallel lines.
Q. How do you clean a fertilizer spreader?
Empty the hopper. Use compressed air or a rag to remove all granules and residue that may be caught in spreader parts. Thoroughly wash the spreader, and pay close attention to crevices and moving parts where debris may lodge. Allow the spreader to dry thoroughly. Store it in a dry location out of direct sunlight.
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