Sumo Gardener

How to Use a Lawn Spreader

Whether you are going to spread seeds or fertilizer on your lawn, you could always rely on a lawn spreader. Using this equipment, you won't have to do things by hand, which usually leads to an uneven coverage. Here, we'll help you know how to use a lawn spreader to maintain an optimal performance at all times.

Using a Broadcast Lawn Spreader

Broadcast lawn spreader

via Amazon

The most common types of lawn spreaders are the broadcast spreader and the drop spreader. Both of these utilize hoppers with adjustable holes according to how much fertilizer and seed you want to be spread. Still, they do differ in the operation and working mechanism.

As the name implies, a broadcast spreader is meant to broadcast seed or fertilizer products over a wide section of your lawn. The hopper has a part underneath that allows the spreader to rotate and scatter the products all around. As you might have already expected, coverage isn't precise. You would need to make several passes to achieve a more uniform coverage.

​Get a Dry Fertilizer and Measure the Area

First of all, you should get the right fertilizer. Regardless of the grass you have, you can take a safe bet and use an all-purpose fertilizer. These include a 10-10-10 fertilizer and a 15-15-15 fertilizer, both of which have equal proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to feed to your grass. Likewise, you can opt for a slow-release granular fertilizer if you want your lawn well-fed for as long as four months.

The next step is to know the total size of your lawn. Calculating this is simple. You just need to identify both the length and the width of your lawn using a measuring tape. Afterward, you just multiply them together to know the total area. For example, a lawn with a 10-meter length and a 12-meter width will have a total area of 120 square meters.

Move the Spreader and Fill with Fertilizer

Next, you should place the broadcast spreader on a sidewalk or on a driveway. The surface of these areas makes it easier to sweep any spilled products. Now, you should locate the handle and close the flow level near it. As for the amount fertilizer to put in the hopper, you should look at the fertilizer package to see the recommended amount.

Ensure that you are looking at the instructions for using a broadcast spreader, which is sometimes referred to as a rotary spreader. The same goes for when you are reading the instructions on a package of grass seeds. There should be a distribution rate number ranging from 1 to 10 on the product label. Upon finding it, you should find a rate dial and set it to the recommended number.

​Broadcast Over the Lawn

Using Broadcast Spreader

Source: Amazon

To begin applying the fertilizer, you should place the broadcast spreader a couple of feet from the edge. The fertilizer will be spread at the side of the spreader, so you shouldn't be at the edge. Now, you must push the handle to release the fertilizer as you slowly and steadily walk on your lawn. Once you are back near the edge, you should release the handle.

However, the operation is not yet over. You must move the broadcast spreader a foot from its first starting point. Like with your first pass, you just have to move on your lawn in a straight line. What this second pass does is to cover any areas that might not have received enough fertilizer in the first pass.

There will be a slight overlap, but this is better than leaving other sections of your lawn without fertilizer. Lastly, don't forget to irrigate your lawn using a hose or a sprinkler. Likewise, you must rinse away any remaining fertilizer in the spreader using a hose.

​Here is a video of using a broadcast spreader:

Using a Drop Lawn Spreader

The one major difference between a drop spreader and a broadcast spreader is that the former has greater precision. As its name implies, it simply drops the fertilizer or seeds down your lawn instead of scattering them. Thus, it utilizes gravity so that the products land accurately in rows with a straight pass.

Read the Package and Set the Dial

Similar to using a broadcast spreader, you must look at the fertilizer or seed package to see the instructions. Ensure that you are looking at the settings for a drop spreader (not the rotary type). There should be a rate dial indicated.

Disengage the Spreader and Fill the Hopper

To prevent any accidents, it is best to keep the machine disengaged. At this point, just fill the hopper of the drop spreader with the necessary amount of fertilizer or seed. You can opt not to fill the hopper since you can always add more along the way. What we don't recommend is overfilling it to the point that spills occur.

Using Drop Spreader

via Amazon

Operate on Your Lawn

Now, you must place your drop spreader just before the edge of your lawn. Remember to squeeze or press the lever to keep it engaged. With a steady pace, walk around your lawn to spread the seeds or fertilizer. Once you reach the end point, you must disengage the spreader and move it a bit.

In particular, you should align the drop area where the wheels of the spreader made contact with. You see, only the area between the wheels get covered with seed or fertilizer. By moving the spreader this way for the second pass, the uncovered areas will also get enough coverage as you walk in straight lines.

Clean the Spreader

After using the spreader, you could lift it to place any of the unused seed or fertilizer back to the package. Also, you must remove any lawn care products that got stuck by rinsing the drop spreader. Similarly, you should use a spray lubricant to stop the metal parts from developing rust.


In conclusion, both types of lawn spreaders have their own strengths and weaknesses. Broadcast spreaders will cover a wide area quickly. On the other hand, drop spreaders don't scatter the seeds or fertilizer but it will cover your lawn evenly and accurately. Just always remember to use them to the recommended settings and to clean them properly after every operation.

We hope that our guide will help you achieve an even coverage with your lawn spreader. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a comment.

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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Leave a Comment:

Tim says April 20, 2020

Hi Ann Katelyn! Can I use a lawn spreader in steep terrain?

    Ann Katelyn says April 23, 2020

    Hey Tim, great question. It depends on how steep the terrain is, if you can easily push it still and if the fertilizer will spread or just hit the ground next to you. Maybe a hand spreader will be a better option.

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