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How to Use a Rotary Spreader and Drop Spreader for Fertilizing

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Are you wondering how to use a rotary spreader or drop spreader for fertilizing? Here’s our advice on choosing the best spreader for your lawn, and tips for how to use it. No matter what kind of lawn products you use, their performance depends in large part on the quality of the spreader that you use to apply them. At Gertens, we have high quality spreaders available for rent; complimentary with a purchase of fertilizer or weed prevention products from us.

A poor-quality spreader often leaves missed streaks or patches in the lawn where the material is either not applied, or is applied at the wrong rate. This causes unsatisfactory control of weeds, insects, and fungus disease as well as poor fertilizer performance.

small rotary spreader
A small rotary spreader

Rotary or Drop Spreader: Which is Best for Me?

If both spreaders are of equal quality, a drop spreader usually will provide better accuracy. However, a high-quality rotary will be more accurate than a lower-quality drop spreader.
Drop spreaders meter out the fertilizer and drop it directly on the lawn. A drop spreader is best if:
  • You have a small lawn
  • Doing the job as precisely as possible is most important to you
  • You don’t mind taking a bit longer to apply products to your lawn
Rotary spreaders meter out the fertilizer and throw the granules in a swath up to several feet wide. A rotary spreader is best if:
  • You have a very large lawn
  • You like to get the job done as quickly as possible
  • You do not have flower beds or gardens in the middle of your lawn

How to Use your Lawn Spreader for Best Results

  1. Make sure the spreader is turned OFF.
  2. Set the spreading rate on the spreader to the setting indicated on the back of the lawn product you are applying.
  3. Always fill the spreader on a driveway or walkway -- not on the lawn, in case some of the product is spilled.
  4. Begin spreading, using the following guidelines.

If You Have a Rectangular Lawn

  1. Start by making two "header strips" at each end of the lawn. This provides an area for turning the spreader on and off.
  2. Go back and forth between the ends, shutting the spreader off when you reach the header strips. When starting back, put the spreader in motion before opening it in the header strip area.
    • If using a drop spreader, make sure the wheels overlap the wheel marks in the grass from the previous swath to prevent missed strips.
    • If using a rotary spreader, be sure to overlap the edge of each swath with the edge of the previous swath to prevent missed streaks.

If You Have an Irregularly Shaped Lawn

  1. Apply a "header strip" around the edge of it.
  2. Go back and forth the longest direction, shutting the spreader off when you reach the header strip.

Remember, if you have any questions or concerns the friendly and knowledgeable staff in our lawn and garden department are happy to help you out.