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Drop Spreader Vs Broadcast Spreader

Spreaders can run the gamut from small, handheld models to heavy duty models that must be pulled with a tractor or ATV; however, they are generally divided into two main categories: drop spreaders and broadcast spreaders. (Broadcast spreaders are also commonly referred to as rotary spreaders.) Both types of spreaders feature hoppers with adjustable openings for controlling the volume of seed or fertilizer that siphons through, but that is where the similarities end. Each type differs in how they spread seed and which type of lawn they are best suited for.

Drop Spreaders

A drop spreader distributes seed or fertilizer in even rows, and this model is known for its pinpoint accuracy. The seed falls only where the operator walks. The spread pattern of a drop spreader extends only to the length of its wheels, which means that the user must overlap their path each time they cross their lawn. Most manufacturers recommend setting the spreader at roughly 50% and spreading seed or fertilizer in a cross hatch pattern. Not only does this ensure even coverage, but it also prevents striping.

Here are a few things about drop spreaders that users should know:

  • Drop spreaders work well on lawns that are under 5,000 square feet in size.
  • They are easy to operate and provide efficient coverage control.
  • Their wide wheel base make them easy to navigate around obstacles and tight spots.
  • Wind does not affect a drop spreader’s performance.
  • Because product is distributed in “swaths”, it eliminates the need to clean up product from other surfaces, like a driveway or sidewalk.

The primary downside to choosing a drop spreader is that they cover less ground each lap than a broadcast spreader, which increases the amount of time needed to adequately seed or fertilizer a lawn. However, because of their precision, many homeowners believe the tradeoff is worth it.

Broadcast Spreaders

Broadcast spreaders are so named because they spread seed in a fanlike pattern over large tracts of land. The size of their spread pattern is dependent on the user’s speed and the size of their holes. The further seed is broadcast from the spreader, the thinner the distribution becomes. Consequently, users must take care to ensure that their passes across a lawn overlap to provide even distribution. As with drop spreaders, the industry recommendation is to set the spreader at 50% and distribute product in a crosshatch pattern.

The highlights of broadcast spreaders include:

  • They cover more ground in less time.
  • Broadcast spreaders are well suited for wide areas and large lawns.
  • In general, hopper capacity is larger than drop spreaders, minimizing the number of times it must be refilled while it is being used.
  • Because seed is “fanned out”, they can be used to spread product in hard to reach areas.

The main issue that arises from using broadcast spreaders is that they can often spread seeds or fertilizer “out of bounds”, which can waste product. Most states also have laws in place that require a user to cleanup any product that is scattered on hardscapes, like sidewalks.

Care For Your Spreader

Regardless of which option you choose, you must always take care to carefully follow the manufacturer’s spreading instructions that come with the unit. When filling your spreader, always load in on a hard surface where any accidental spills can be easily cleaned up.

Likewise, your spreader should always be thoroughly cleaned after each use, especially if you have been spreading a product that contains harsh chemicals, like lime or fertilizer. The spreader should be completely emptied, and a brush should be used to remove any remaining material. Make sure to keep any moving parts lubricated as well.

With proper use and care, a high quality spreader should provide you with many years of use.

About the author

Mark Kelly

Hi, I'm Mark the owner of Yard Care Gurus. I love to be outside working on my lawn, planning my next project. I created this website to help people like you find the best products for yard care and great advice. Thanks for stopping by!

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