A lot of care, time, and effort goes into making a garden look spectacular. And a fertilizer spreader is one of those tools that plays a role in it.
To ensure that your garden is in top-notch condition throughout the year, and it looks lush and healthy, investing in a spreader is essential. Not only do these devices help in the even distribution of fertilizers and other nutritional elements, but they also cater to the individual needs of a garden.
But with so many excellent models available in the market, how do you zero in on the right one for your needs? To help you out in the matter, we’ve compiled a guide outlining the factors to keep in mind when buying one.
And if you're in a hurry, feel free to select a product from our top recommendations given below.
Top 12 Fertilizer Spreaders
Types of Fertilizer Spreaders
Before jumping to the properties of an individual model, it’s necessary to gauge what kind of fertilizer spreader is required for your lawn. Available in three primary types, they fulfill different functions and can be tailored to suit specific needs.
1. Broadcast Spreader
This variant is designed to work on larger lawns. Equally adept at spreading fertilizer and ice, they are greatly preferred by farmers. Also, broadcast spreaders offer easy portability and can either be pulled behind or pushed forward. In fact, some of the best push lawn fertilizer spreaders are broadcast ones. Additionally, they may also be attached to the tractor itself.
Also called rotary spreaders, this type allows for quick coverage, thus saving considerable time. However, do bear in mind that it takes a slightly experienced hand to tackle the device as it is prone to spinning out of control in certain cases. So, if you’re a beginner, maybe this is not the best option.
On the other hand, broadcast spreaders come with attractive advantages. The internal mechanism includes a guard that can be engaged to partly block the distribution pattern. This, in turn, allows the user to reach the edges of the property without dispensing the material unnecessarily.
Given their numerous uses, many of the best commercial fertilizer spreaders also happen to be of this type.
2. Handheld Spreaders
The second type is a handheld spreader, one that is specifically designed to tackle smaller yards and lawns. They are extremely effective in reaching those nooks and crannies that remain out of reach for larger tools and also offer great control. If your garden contains a significant number of flower beds and corners that need maintenance, a handheld spreader would be a viable option.
Being a crank-operated device, it is also simple to use and compact in size. Therefore, all essential areas - control, storage, and maintenance, are taken care of by this specific type. Bear in mind, the best handheld fertilizer spreaders are light in weight.
3. Drop Spreaders
Drop spreaders make up the third type and are particularly effective when dealing with granular, uneven particles. They are usually used on residential properties or farms and can make short work of tough debris and mulch.
The biggest USP of drop spreaders is that they’re far more accurate in their dispersion and easier to control. To that end, having a fixed application width greatly helps and gears the devices towards lawns that have planting beds. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if the area isn’t covered evenly by the spreader, chances of stripping (a distinct pattern) increase.
What to Look for When Buying Fertilizer Spreaders
1. Coverage Area
Having discussed the three main types of lawn spreaders, we will now move on to the specific factors that help decide which model is ideal for your garden’s requirements. The coverage area is among the most essential ones in this respect and goes a long way in determining which type of tool is the right one.
The coverage area refers to the extent of surface area that the tool can fill to the top. The value is usually denoted in square feet and the best fertilizer spreaders have a range of 20,000 to 25,000 square feet. However, handheld spreaders do tend to have smaller coverage areas as they cater to smaller yards.
As a rule of thumb, a higher numerical value denotes a larger coverage area and implies that the spreader is able to nourish a greater volume of grass, flowers, and other plants.
2. Weight Capacity
Similar to the coverage area, the weight capacity of a spreader is a crucial aspect to check before making a purchase. Put simply, the number denotes the maximum weight a spreader can support while functioning at the optimal level. Again, a higher value implies better utility and strength.
Many of the popular models in the market have capacities that range between 75 and 125 pounds. However, this can differ and it’s wise to consider other attributes of the unit before jumping to conclusions. Another important thing to keep in mind is that models with larger weight capacities also tend to cover more area.
3. Size of the Wheel
Most full-sized fertilizer spreaders are fitted with wheels at the time of purchase. Naturally, wheels allow for better mobility and make it comfortable for the user to push or tow the device with considerable ease. For a number of reasons, therefore, it is essential to check the size of the wheels before buying a fertilizer spreader.
Large wheels, those with a diameter of 14 inches, for instance, offer greater portability as compared to a spreader with 10-inch diameter wheels. Therefore, larger wheels also positively impact the coverage area and the time-efficiency of a model.
In addition to that, such wheels prove to be more effective on uneven ground and allow the unit to reach spaces that otherwise stay out of bounds for spreaders with smaller wheels. Most commonly, wheels are made out of plastic but pneumatic tires can also be found in some models. Both are equally good, though plastic does tend to give way with prolonged heavy-duty use.
4. Form Factor and Size
Another essential factor while buying a fertilizer spreader is the form factor and size of the device. This refers to the type of model that is best suited to your yard’s needs and as discussed above, there are three main types - broadcast, drop, and handheld fertilizers. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks.
Therefore, in order to select the best lawn fertilizer spreader for your garden, it is crucial to have in-depth knowledge of each type, their functioning, durability, and ease of operation.
5. Longevity and Warranty
Like any other piece of garden or household machinery, fertilizer spreaders are often subjected to heavy use for prolonged hours. Alongside this, unfavorable weather conditions can also affect a device’s functioning and longevity, and lead to immense wear-and-tear if left unchecked. Therefore, it makes sense to check the warranty before making the final decision.
While the most popular models offer a 1-year warranty, some go the extra mile and come with a lifetime warranty. The latter, naturally, makes for a better investment, being a more reliable option. So, if getting the best value for money is your primary concern, maybe a lifetime warranty is an attractive prospect.
Also, for greater longevity, spreaders constructed out of steel or cast iron are always better options. Both metals are highly sturdy and can withstand heavy-duty use with ease.
Fertilizer spreaders are some of the easiest tools to use as they operate on a simple mechanism. In order to enhance the performance, therefore, many good models include accessories along with the primary device. While they do not have a direct impact on the functioning of the appliance, accessories result in a smoother and more streamlined experience.
Among the more common ones, a towing hook is popular with users and for good reason! This piece of attachment helps you pull or tow the spreader in a particular direction, much like a tractor. A towing hook, therefore, allows for better portability. Additionally, more advanced accessories include hopper covers that act as protection against external factors such as harsh sun, sleet, or rain.
7. Cleaning and Storage
One of the main areas of concern while selecting the right fertilizer spreader is the effort and time that it requires for cleaning. Storage comes a close second. In this regard, it helps to keep certain guidelines in mind that apply to most spreader models.
Ensuring a high degree of cleanliness and proper storage is essential to securing and prolonging the longevity of any device and spreaders are no exception to the rule. Also, it leads to better accuracy in functioning as well.
Some primary guidelines for doing so include:
1. Always empty the hopper of the spreader after each use and ensure there are no leftovers.
2. Residue and granules must be removed from all parts of the spreader, specifically the hopper and spreading components. High-pressure air passed through a nozzle can be effective in accomplishing the task.
3. The spreader must be thoroughly washed with clean water and left to dry completely for a significant duration of time. Also, ensure that no water comes in contact with the wiring and other electrical parts of the device as not only can this hamper functioning, but also prove highly dangerous.
4. Lubrication is one of the surefire ways to enhance a spreader’s working. However, care must be taken to follow the instructions in the manual before doing so.
5. The unit must never be stored in direct sunlight. Any cool and dry location works well.
It is important to remember these guidelines before making a purchase, and consider if they’re feasible. If for any reason whatsoever, it is not possible for the user to follow the cleaning and storage tips, even the best models can fall apart.
Last but not the least, the extent of maintenance a model requires plays a crucial role in determining whether or not it’s the right choice for you. Budgetary considerations, time constraints, and physical capacity are factors that decide how well you’re able to maintain a device over a period of time.
For instance, if a certain spreader requires ample time and effort for maintenance, it’s probably not the ideal choice for a busy professional. However, some guidelines regarding the maintenance of a lawn fertilizer spreader remain unchanged regardless of its make.
First, it pays to perform a thorough inspection of your device before you take it out to the garden each season. If a device is not technically sound and in perfect working condition, to begin with, not only does it result in poor functioning but can also lead to accidents.
To this end, one must ensure that all components and safety parts are in place and working properly. Protective guards for PTO drivelines, if attached, may also be a part of such a check.
Furthermore, load-bearing parts and fasteners must be tightly fitted and no loose ends can be left unchecked. Lastly, the spreading disc should also be securely locked in position to avoid undue damage to the device as well as the user.
Old and worn-out parts result in inaccurate and uneven spreading; they also have the potential to cause severe harm. Therefore, in case any part is found to be lacking in precision or in need of repair, it must immediately be tended to and, if required, replaced.
Maintenance guidelines, though relating more to how a spreader must be used, are a crucial part of the decision-making process regarding the ideal unit for your needs. As mentioned above, it is only upon understanding the instructions fully that one can measure the feasibility of a spreader. This, in turn, impacts which model suits one’s needs as well as time-related limitations.
A fertilizer spreader is a useful piece of machinery to own. However, like all items of utility, it requires careful thought and thorough research. Our guide identifies the crucial aspects that you must consider before making the final decision.
We hope we’ve been able to guide you closer to the ideal spreader of your choice, keeping in mind individual requirements and preferences.
Till next time!