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There are several methods available for evenly applying and spreading lawn fertilizer.
Which one you choose will primarily depend on how large of an area you plan to treat.
The option of spreading fertilizer by hand is always available, and if you have a small lawn, this method will work well; however, if your lawn is more than a few hundred square feet, then it is worth investigating other options.
The risk you run in applying fertilizer by hand is that you may not be able to achieve a consistent and uniform spread. You may also put down too much in one area and risk burning your lawn (if you are using a synthetic).
When it comes to applying traditional, dry lawn fertilizers, most homeowners opt to use a spreader.
The most popular type of spreader are broadcast spreaders. Spreaders vary in price from a around $10 for an inexpensive handheld to a hundreds of dollars for a heavy duty commercial model.
Basic Types of Spreaders
Spreaders are available in three primary models: handheld, walk behind and tow behind.
- Handheld spreaders are used for smaller areas. They don’t hold much material and can be hard to get a uniform spread if you try to use them to cover a larger area.
- Walk behind spreaders are use for medium sized areas and require the user to push them across the property.
- Tow behind spreaders are used for larger areas and tow by a tractor or ATV.
The fertilizer should be broadcast on the ground before planting, and it should then be tilled or watered into the soil.
Alternately, you can also broadcast fertilizer onto the top of growing plants and then water it into the soil. This practice is called topdressing.
Should you have a spill or accidentally “overfertilize” an area of your lawn, it is imperative that you clean up as much of the excess fertilizer as you can. (A vacuum cleaner can work wonders!) The area should then be flooded with water to prevent your grass from becoming scorched or receiving chemical burns.
Drop spreaders operate similarly to broadcast spreaders; although, they are not as popular. Instead of throwing out the fertilizer in a large swath, this type of spreader simply drops the material straight down to the width of the spreader’s wheelbase. Drop spreaders generally take longer to fertilize with than broadcast spreaders. Ideally, you should overlap with the wheelbase during each pass to ensure even coverage.
Water Soluble Fertilizers
Finally, most lawn care experts recommend applying liquid fertilizers via spray can or via sprinkler. This type of fertilizer is generally reserved for large swaths of crops or small gardens or flowerbeds. Most often, it is applied when plants begin to show signs of being nutrient deficient. If you are applying it via spray can, you should only apply a small amount in a single spray. If the solution is too strong, you run the risk of scorching or burning your plants.