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Lawn & Garden

How to Use a Fertilizer Spreader

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When you purchase the appropriate fertilizer for your lawn, just about every bag of lawn fertilizer has instructions on the on the back of the package that will tell you proper settings for you fertilizer spreader. 


Scotts seems to have the market on many of the home use Fertilizer Spreaders.  Each bag of fertilizer has the recommended setting for the proper application of fertilizer.  It is important that you look at the instructions on the bag of fertilizer and follow their recommendations as these settings should be up to date and more accurate than the ones that were included with your fertilizer spreader when it was purchased.





As a home owner, your best results will come from a lawn spreader purchased from a reputable dealer or manufacturer.  Bargains on an off brand may end up being catastrophic for your lawn.  When in doubt, under fertilize.  More can be added later if needed but if you over fertilize, your lawn or plants can face certain death. 


Lawn spreaders can also be used to apply a granular pesticide as well.  The proper setting in this case will prevent the home owner from applying too much pesticide to the given area.  Less waste and less potential pollution if there is any run off during a heavy rain.


There are 3 basic types of Lawn Spreaders:



Hand Held






Drop spreaders




For best results, follow the instructions on the bag for the proper setting.  If you package gives you an application rate based on LBS per square foot, you can follow the attached conversion chart:


Broadcast Spreader Settings


Following this above chart will give you a place from which to start if your fertilizer instructions are given to you in Lbs. per Sq. Ft rather than a specific easy to read setting for your particular spreader.  A general rule you should be able to follow,  is a dry weights and measure calculation. 1 cup of dry product weighs 1/2 lb.  That amount of fertilizer will cover a specified area as stated in the instructions on the package.


Depending on what type of material you are dealing with will help you choose the correct setting on your spreader.  Lime for example is more of a powder and as a result you will be using a lower setting you your spreader. If you are using a courser granulated product, then you will need to have a higher setting.  An example of this would be the Milorganite.  This is a lighter material and will require 3 cups to equal 1 lb of product.



The common misconception is that the settings on the dial of your spreader mean that it is displaying lbs. per sq. foot.  This is not correct.  The settings are only a calibration set by the manufacturer which may correspond to the bag of fertilizer you are using and may not necessarily be accurate for all applications. 


On a Scotts Broadcast Spreader, when applying lime, which is more like a fine powder, you can use a setting of 3 to achieve an application rate of 1.75 lbs. per 1000 square foot.  An application rate of 2.25 lbs. per square foot can be achieved with a setting of 3.5 while with a setting of 4 you will be able to have an application rate of 3.5 lbs. per 1000 square feet.


Unfortunately, when dealing with instructions given in Pounds Per Square Foot, the whole industry is not clear on the settings that are to be used on your fertilizer spreader.  This is due in a large part to the different types and consistency of fertilizers.  You may have to resort to a Trial and Error basis if additional information is not given in the applications instructions.  The courser the material, the higher the setting you will need to achieve the proper application rate. 


To further add to this confusion, the speed at which you walk will also affect the application rate.  A person who walks faster will have a lighter application rate than a person who walks slower.  


Always error on the side of caution when doing this type of application experimenting.  Write down your settings for the different types of fertilizer and granular pesticides you are using and what you’re walking pace was so that you will have a reference guide for your future applications.


Please let us know if you have any further questions.



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Posted 2015-04-17T19:56:25+0000  by Rick_HD_OC Rick_HD_OC