There are many specialized tools in lawn care and gardening, but when it comes to fertilizer and grass seed spreaders, they are the same piece of equipment. How you use a spreader, however, will vary slightly between seed and fertilizer due to the different materials. Even though the same tool can be used for both fertilizer and seed, you should not mix or spread them at the same time.
In This Article
How Do Spreaders Work?
Grass seed or fertilizer spreaders come in two main material-distribution types: drop spreaders and broadcast spreaders. Each performs as their name implies: drop spreaders don’t cast the seed outwards; instead, they drop seed and fertilizer through the opening in the bottom of the spreader’s hopper.
Broadcast spreaders use a rotary propeller below the hopper that catches the material as it flows out and spreads it to the left and right as well as in front of it. In both broadcast and drop spreaders, the amount of material released is controlled by a setting lever or dial on the hopper.
Adjusting Spreaders For Seed
The spreader’s adjustment settings can open wider for larger materials or to release more at once, and it can restrict flow and adjust to smaller grains of fertilizer or seed. Many spreaders have guide information that tells you which settings are right for different types of materials based on their size, such as powder, granular, organic fertilizers, and fine or coarse grass seed.
Seed Amount By Type Of Grass
Different grass seed species need to be applied in different amounts, which should be taken into account when adjusting for the opening size. Kentucky 31 tall fescue, for example, requires more seed to be distributed at once (9-10 lbs per 1000 sq ft) as a cool-season bunch-type grass that naturally spreads by dropping seeds. More seeds mean more coverage for this species.
On the other hand, the warm-season Bermuda grass seed only needs a light application (about 2 pounds per 1000 sq ft). This species spreads mainly by root extension rather than by seed distribution, so less seed is more in this case. Your grass seed bag will include instructions and should provide a guide for application based on a specific square footage per ounce or pound.
What’s The Best Method Of Spreading Grass Seed?
When you sow grass seed, you want even coverage, and you do this by controlling the amount of seed that gets applied. After calculating your square footage to cover and the requirements for the specific grass type, the best method will depend on the job itself: whether you’re spot-seeding bare or thin patches, overseeding existing grass, or planting a whole new lawn on freshly tilled and exposed soil.
There are three ways of spreading seed:
- By hand – Sowing by hand can be good for broadcasting to overseed or for spot-seeding, but using a distributer provides more consistent coverage over larger areas.
- Handheld spreaders – With small hopper capacity but good broadcasting power, handheld distributers are great for overseeding your yard.
- Push spreaders – Push spreaders have a range of capacities up to several feet, coming in many different sizes. Scotts and Agrifab are popular brands that make large fertilizer spreaders that double as seed spreaders. These ensure you get a consistent distribution with a large hopper capacity.
Do I Need A Spreader For Just Grass Seed?
You don’t necessarily need a separate spreader for grass seed only. Keeping your dual-use spreader clean of buildup from seed husks or fertilizer materials will help you be sure the openings stay clear and can accommodate the different sized materials as you use the spreader throughout the year.
Can I Fertilize And Overseed At The Same Time?
You should never mix fertilizer and seed since you won’t be able to control the evenness of the seed distribution. These should always be separate applications. Fertilizer is generally made of heavier material than seeds and can disrupt the even spread of seeds when being released from the hopper, usually resulting in uneven growth. Fertilizer should be applied first; then, your grass seed can be sown.