10 Best Fertilizer Spreaders | Drop Broadcast on Lawns

I’ve been using fertilizer spreaders for more than a decade now, and from personal experience, I can confirm that they work. 

However, that success relies on using them correctly. Spreaders with loose components or poor setting configurations aren’t nearly as effective as one of the best fertilizer spreader options. To help with that, I decided to put together a list of the ten spreaders I like most.

Best Fertilizer Spreaders

If you’re in a hurry I get it…so check out my top three recommendations below. I have an option for each type of spreader. Hand-held for smaller areas, push behind for large lawns, and a two behind the model for very large areas and commercial use.

Best Fertilizer Spreader

Best Hand-Held Spreader

Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Fertilizer Spreader

A well-designed, ergonomic hand-held spreader with arm support. Large enough to cover 1500sq.ft. of lawn.

Agri-Fab Push Broadcast Spreader

Best Walk Behind Spreader

Agri-Fab Push Broadcast Spreader

Outstanding 360 degrees spread that casts over a wide area. Capable of holding up to 130 pounds. 

Agri-Fab Tow Behind Broadcast Spreader

Best Tow Behind Spreader

Agri-Fab Tow Behind Broadcast Spreader

Heavy-duty broadcast spreader for use on ride-on lawnmowers or with ATV. Holds 130 pounds.

Why Use a Fertilizer Spreader

The main reason to use a fertilizer spreader is to apply packaged fertilizer correctly. If you add too much to a yard, you’re going to burn and harm the grass. If you don’t add enough, the results won’t be good enough, which defeats the purpose of using fertilizer. Spreaders are the only effective way to apply the correct amount of fertilizer.

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Types of Fertilizer Spreaders

There are five main types of fertilizer spreaders you can find on the market. Each of these has a different purpose, so rather than declaring one the best, it’s better to think of the different types as a way to get the right tool for the job.

Rotary Broadcast Spreaders

Rotary broadcast spreaders have a distribution system that launches the fertilizer away from the spreader as you push it along. Most spreaders launch the fertilizer between three and four feet away. I recommend these for larger areas where their excellent coverage is more practical. 

Rotary spreaders aren’t as good for smaller yards, where their range may result in throwing fertilizer off the grass.

Drop Spreaders

Drop spreaders are the main alternative to rotary spreaders. As the name implies, these drop fertilizer directly beneath the spreader, giving you excellent control over exactly where it goes. I recommend drop spreaders for mid-size lawns and anyone who wants more control over where the lawn fertilizer goes.

Hand-Held Spreader

Hand spreaders are great for tiny yards and gardens. They have a far lower capacity than rotary and broadcast spreaders, and little precision on top of that, so they’re not a sensible choice for people with huge lawns.

However, they are perfect for small areas along your sidewalk, in your garden, or small greenhouse plants. You can also use it to fertilize steep areas, where pulling or pushing a larger device might be too difficult.

Walk-Behind Spreader

A walk-behind spreader is any type of spreader that you push along. This category includes most rotary, drop, and handheld spreaders. 

One thing to keep in mind is that when you use a walk-behind spread, you walk over fresh fertilizer. You should clean up before you go inside if you’re using one of these so you don’t track fertilizer inside.

Tow-Behind Spreader

Tow behind spreaders attaches to ride-on lawnmowers or ATVs. These are usually rotary or drop spreaders, but they’re often much larger than walk-behind spreaders and better for covering huge areas. Most households won’t need a tow-behind spreader, but consider getting one of these if you have several acres you want to fertilize.

Choosing the Best Fertilizer Spreader

In my experience, there are four main things to consider when buying a fertilizer spreader. However, circumstances affect these choices. Just like the types of spreaders, the most critical factor in choosing a spreader is how well it fits your property’s needs. Every other detail is ultimately secondary to that.

Method of Operation

The methods of operation, described above, are how you use the spreader. Most people should get a rotary broadcast spreader or a drop spreader. Handheld and tow-behind spreaders are specialty products for unusually large or small yards, so they’re not a good fit for average buyers.

If you’re unsure which one to get, I suggest a drop spreader. They offer more control over where the fertilizer goes, and that’s ultimately easier for many people.

Holding Capacity

Holding capacity is how much fertilizer a spreader can carry at one time. There are several ways to define this, but most companies prefer using weight instead of volume to indicate how much product a spreader is for. Typical household spreaders have a holding capacity of somewhere around 60 pounds, which is enough for an entire bag of fertilizer.

Spreading Capacity

Spreading capacity relates closely to holding capacity, so some companies will advertise this rate instead. Spreading capacity is how much ground a spreader can often cover, measured in square feet. Note that these numbers usually assume the broadest possible spread because people like higher numbers, so realistically, you won’t get the full rate.

I find holding capacity to be a more helpful measurement because you can look at a bag of fertilizer and see how much ground it’s meant to cover. Spreading capacity varies significantly based on how densely you drop the product, so it’s not as effective in actual use.

Corrosive Resistant

Finally, corrosion resistance is an excellent feature for spreaders to have. It’s better to keep spreaders in a dry place when you’re not using them, but even without water, fertilizer can be corrosive. Anything that resists chemical reactions is a better choice.

Best Fertilizer Spreader Reviews

Here are my ten favorite fertilizer spreaders, starting with the three I most often use and recommend to others.

Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Fertilizer Spreader
  • Type: Handheld
  • Capacity: 1500 square feet
  • Flow controller: Knob

Pros:

  • Highly affordable handheld spreader
  • Easier to hold than most competing products
  • Holds a good amount of fertilizer to over 1500 sq.ft.

Cons:

  • Limited coverage settings
  • Fewer control settings than most Scotts products

If you’re going to buy a handheld spreader, this is a great place to start. Scotts’ handheld spreader is compatible with most of their products, but the real reason I like it so much is the adjustable arm support. It’s a rare feature on handheld spreaders, but it makes the container significantly easier to hold.

It’s easy to forget about weight, but spreaders can get heavy when they’re full of fertilizer. An extra brace goes a long way toward making this product easier to use, and I’ve felt the difference when trying it out over larger yards.

The Whirl is also a good choice if you want to use products besides fertilizer. It’s compatible with grass seed and weed treatment products, as well as Scotts’ ice melt. If you live in a cold area like me, spreading ice melt is a great secondary function.

While this product does have limited control compared to broadcast or walk-behind spreaders, it works exceptionally well for smaller areas.

2. Agri-Fab Push Broadcast Spreader

Best Walk Behind Spreader

Agri-Fab Push Broadcast Spreader
  • Type: Walk-behind
  • Capacity: 130 pounds
  • Flow controller: Direct rod control

Pros:

  • Outstanding 360-degree coverage
  • Great option for larger yards
  • Spreads fertilizer wider than most competing products

Cons:

  • Pneumatic tires rather than solid ones
  • May be hard to push when full

While Scotts is the most well-known name in the agricultural business, some other companies are also worth looking at. Agri-Fab makes a lot of great products, too, including this broadcast spreader. Agri-Fab’s unit is particularly wide-ranging, with a 360-degree spreader that minimizes the amount of backtracking you need to do while putting down fertilizer.

Agri-Fab 45 0462 Smart Spreader

I’ve found this unit a little tricky to use. It spreads both ahead and behind, so it will throw fertilizer towards your legs while you’re walking. That’s not a big deal if you’re wearing the right shoes, but it does lead to slightly uneven application.

Despite that drawback, however, this spreader is still worth considering because of its outstanding rapid coverage. It covers as much as twelve feet at a time, with a total rated area of 25,000 square feet, making it an excellent choice for most larger yards.

An optional deflector kit can angle the spread of fertilizer better, and I recommend getting that if you decide to buy this product. It’s got great power otherwise, so angling things better removes the only real weakness this spreader has.

Agri-Fab Tow Behind Broadcast Spreader
  • Type: Tow-behind
  • Capacity: 130 pounds
  • Flow controller: Rod-linked control dial

Pros:

  • Control settings are accessible from the driver seat
  • Great capacity for a towed unit
  • Distributes fertilizer fast enough to avoid wasting gas

Cons:

  • Deflector kit sold separately
  • Limited control settings

Agri-Fab’s tow behind spreader is similar to their push broadcast spreader, down to the same whirling distribution design. The difference, of course, is that you can hook it up to a tractor. I don’t get to use towed spreaders as often as I want, but from the times I’ve used them, this one has performed exceptionally well.

Overall, 130 pounds is an impressive capacity for towed systems. It’s within the range even weaker tractors can comfortably handle, while still large enough to hold enough fertilizer for bigger yards. There is a slight concern over chucking fertilizer towards the back of the tractor, but you can mitigate this by installing the optional deflector kit.

The other thing I like about this product is the accessible control system. Some tow behind spreaders put the controls on the back or bottom of the unit, but Agri-Fab keeps theirs located close to the tractor seat. That makes it easier to reconfigure and adjust the spreader without getting off the tractor.

One potential downside is that the controls aren’t quite as precise as you’ll get with a Scotts system. There’s a good chance you’re using Scotts products if you have a big yard, and there’s something to be said for having enough control to be sure you’re not over-fertilizing your hard.

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  • Type: Walk-behind rotary
  • Capacity: 15,000 square feet
  • Flow controller: Knob

Pros:

  • An edge-blocking system limits the spreader pattern
  • Enough capacity for most yards
  • Respectable number of spreader settings

Cons:

  • A little flimsy
  • May require tweaking to stop fertilizer from gathering in wheels

Scotts makes a lot of spreaders to go with their products, but most people will start with the EdgeGuard DLX broadcast system. The name comes from a slidable guard you can move around the right side of the unit to limit coverage and ensure you’re not throwing fertilizer onto a sidewalk.

Speaking from experience, that’s the kind of attention to detail that comes in handy when you’re trying to fertilize an area. Without features like that, you may waste a lot of fertilizer when getting areas near the edge of a yard.

I also like the precision dial system here. It’s not as specific as some twist controllers I’ve used, but the fifteen settings are enough to ensure compatibility with almost any product. You’re not limiting yourself to Scotts fertilizer if you buy this, which is an essential consideration.

The main weakness of this product is that the wheels can be a little flimsy and may catch a lot of fertilizer unless you put some blocks up to stop that. Still, these aren’t huge issues. This product is still top-quality and performs well.

5. Scotts EdgeGuard Mini Broadcast Spreader

Walk Behind for Small Lawns

Scotts EdgeGuard Mini Broadcast Spreader
  • Type: Walk-behind rotary
  • Capacity: 5000 square feet
  • Flow controller: Knob

Pros:

  • Excellent choice for small yards
  • Reasonably durable construction for its size
  • More affordable than most other spreaders

Cons:

  • Too small for most people
  • Material may not be extremely durable

The EdgeGuard Mini is functionally the same as the regular EdgeGuard DLX, but one-third of the capacity. The difference in capacity means this is a much better choice for small lawns, but it can’t even begin to compete for larger lawns.

However, before you go out to buy this product, it’s crucial to know the context of yard sizes. The average house has a residential lawn of over 10,000 square feet, and ideally, you won’t need to fill it up more than once. This spreader is suitable for buyers in Nevada, who have an average yard size smaller than 5,000 square feet, but everyone else should consider a bigger unit. 

While the EdgeGuard Mini is too small for the average yard size in most states, it does have a secondary use for businesses with yards. Many companies have small grassy areas for curb appeal, and the EdgeGuard Mini can help keep those areas clean and professional-looking without being as hard to use as a handheld system.

In short, this is an excellent spreader if you have a smaller-than-average yard.

Amaze Broadcaster for Seed or Fertilizer
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  • Type: Walk-behind rotary
  • Capacity: 10,000 square feet
  • Flow controller: Knob

Pros:

  • Sloped spreader improves distribution range
  • Spreads fertilizer more evenly than most products
  • Suitable for most standard yards

Cons:

  • Slightly flimsier than other products
  • More expensive than some other spreaders

Amaze isn’t nearly as well-known as Scotts, but this is a great backup spreader. 10,000 square feet is enough to meet the average yard size in many states, which makes this the right size for most people. That alone is an essential consideration, so you don’t need to carry extra fertilizer bags and refill the spreader.

Amaze’s spreader also stands out from the crowd with its spreader system. Unlike other products, which tend to be flat, this spreader is specifically curved up. This design throws fertilizer upward rather than straight out, giving you more control over where the fertilizer lands.

Performance-wise, my experience is that this spreader applies fertilizer evenly and won’t have as many streaks in the lawn as you can see with other products. It’s not quite as durable as some other products I’ve seen, but most people can expect this spreader to last for several years at a minimum.

Ultimately, I like this as a backup option, and it will work well with most products.

Expert Gardener Hand Held Seed Spreader
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  • Type: Handheld rotary
  • Capacity: 6 lbs
  • Flow controller: Sliding lever

Pros:

  • Outstandingly large brace for holding comfortably
  • Thicker-than-average material helps ensure durability
  • Excellent choice for small yards and gardens

Cons:

  • Hard to use accurately
  • Only two settings are good for fertilizer

Expert Gardener is a smaller brand, but I had the chance to try out this product and was impressed. Its design immediately stuck out to me thanks to the large, thick brace that moves the unit’s weight away from the wrist.

Although technically a seed spreader, this unit works well for basic fertilizer on its number 3 setting. You can also switch to the number 4 setting for heavy fertilizer. 

Overall, it’s relatively easy to use and covers a small area efficiently. It’s also durable, with plastic that’s thick enough to hold up to weather changes.

Scotts Elite Fertilizer Spreader
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  • Type: Walk-behind dual rotary
  • Capacity: 20,000 square feet
  • Flow controller: Knob

Pros:

  • Outstanding precision for a rotary spreader
  • Large enough to cover almost any yard
  • Supports playing music while you work

Cons:

  • Noticeably more expensive
  • Some luxury components are unnecessary on a fertilizer spreader

Scotts’ Elite spreader is one of their newer products, and it’s a sharp departure from their traditional styles. The most obvious change is the switch to a dual rotary system. This spreads fertilizer more evenly over its six-foot spread pattern, which is ultimately much better for lawns. The better plastic tires are a nice touch, too.

In a more modern twist, the top of this spreader has a smartphone holder. That means you can look at a yard map, play music, or otherwise maintain access to your technology while you’re fertilizing. It’s a thoughtful touch, though in my experience it’s not as useful as it sounds because the glare from the sun can wash out the screen and make it hard to see.

With a coverage area of up to 20,000 square feet, this spreader is large enough for almost any lawn. However, it doesn’t cover as much area at once like many other spreaders, so it takes longer to use. That’s an unfortunate drawback for an otherwise-excellent spreader system. On the other hand, having a narrower range also improves its precision.

The other downside to this spreader is the cost. It’s significantly more expensive than most other spreaders, but the coverage area and precision are great for commercial buyers.

Scotts Wizz Hand-Held Fertilizer Spreader
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  • Type: Handheld rotary
  • Capacity: 2500 square feet
  • Flow controller: Knob

Pros:

  • Great coverage for a handheld unit
  • Motorized distribution reduces the effort of using it
  • Spreads more evenly than most handheld units

Cons:

  • Overly narrow spreading range
  • The batteries can be hard to replace

The Wizz is a rare, battery-powered spreader. If you need something that can cover a wide lawn, the consistency of this motor may work well. That said, you need to walk at a steady pace to use this spreader correctly, so it’s not a good choice for anyone who can only move a bit at a time.

The Wizz is a surprisingly accurate spreader, with a broadcast range of about five feet and 23 settings for more control over the exact distribution amount. However, it also has an unusually narrow spread. Most fertilizer spreaders go for a 180-degree angle, but this unit is closer to 120 degrees. Thankfully, there’s a slider on one side that offers more control over the angle.

The one thing I don’t like about this product is that it’s easy to forget about the batteries. All batteries have a self-discharge rate, though newer styles like lithium-ion batteries won’t drain as fast. Even so, two or three uses in a season and keeping the Wizz in your garage through the winter will probably drain the batteries entirely.

If you remember to change or charge the batteries regularly, the Wizz provides efficient and even fertilizer application.

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  • Type: Handheld shaker
  • Capacity: 80 ounces
  • Flow controller: Twist lid

Pros:

  • Great for fertilizing small areas
  • No fragile components
  • Easier to control than many other shakers

Cons:

  • Extremely limited settings
  • Not suitable for anything besides tiny yards or garden areas

The Spot Spreader is different from every other product on this list. Rather than being a tool for applying fertilizer evenly, this handheld shaker lets you deposit fertilizer directly onto specific spots.

The Spot Spreader is a good tool for places that regular spreaders can’t reach, such as bushes and some flower gardens. However, its low capacity and lack of precision mean this tool is more of a supplement to other tools, not a replacement for them.

Still, if you have a windowsill garden or small areas along your sidewalk that need fertilizing, this can be the perfect tool. 

Other Uses for Your Broadcast Spreader

Spreading fertilizer may be the main purpose, but most spreaders also work with other products. Here’s how you can use them for other garden needs. 

Seed Broadcasting

Seed broadcasting is a vital part of overseeding, the process of adding new grass seed to thicken a lawn. Using a fertilizer spreader for this will help ensure a more even distribution of grass seeds so your lawn doesn’t end up with unusually thick or thin clumps.

Rock Salt & Ice Melt

Rock salt and ice melt are mainly helpful in winter when you want to get rid of snow. Rapid application of melting products can clear out walkways and make them safer for people to traverse. These are especially helpful for businesses, where keeping things safe is particularly crucial.

How to Use a Fertilizer Spreader?

Using a fertilizer spreader is easy. First, look at the fertilizer you’re buying and see what it recommends for settings. Most fertilizers clearly state which spreaders their numbers are compatible for. Products tend to have similar settings for compatibility, too.

Once you know how much fertilizer to use, pour it into your spreader and start moving across your lawn. Most spreaders require you to hold a lever or push a button while you’re using them. This feature lets you instantly shut off the spreader when you need to.

Depending on the product and spreader, you may need to overlap things a little. Most spreaders drop more fertilizer in the first few feet of their range and less fertilizer further away, so overlapping ensures that every area gets the same amount. However, this can vary. You can check the manual for your spreader and see what the manufacturer recommends.

When you’re done, clean out your spreader. Water is usually okay for this, but make sure it drains into a safe area that can filter the water before it reaches streams. Fertilizer runoff is a serious problem in some areas, so do your part to minimize that.

Verdict: Best Fertilizer Spreader

On the whole, I like Agri-Fab’s push broadcast spreader the most. Its ease of use, excellent range, and affordable pricing make it the best choice for most buyers. However, the Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered spreader is ideal for those with small gardens and yards. 

Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Fertilizer Spreader

Best Hand-Held Spreader

Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Fertilizer Spreader

A well-designed, ergonomic hand-held spreader with arm support. Large enough to cover 1500sq.ft. of lawn.

Agri-Fab Push Broadcast Spreader

Best Walk Behind Spreader

Agri-Fab Push Broadcast Spreader

Outstanding 360 degrees spread that casts over a wide area. Capable of holding up to 130 pounds. 

Depending on your yard size and particular needs, check out the various options above, or give my top picks a try. 

FAQs Seed and Fertilizer Drop Spreaders 

Here are some common questions people have about fertilizer spreaders. For any questions beyond these, you can consult your owner’s manual or visit a local hardware store.