If you are looking for an efficient way to spread fertilizer or seeds, you might have come across different broadcast spreaders and drop spreaders on the market. If you are new to using this type of equipment, it can be confusing which one is better or which one you might need for your garden.
This guide will cover the differences between two popular types of spreaders- the drop spreader and the broadcast spreader. We also included a few reviews of the most popular spreaders from each category.
Table of Contents
- What is a Drop Spreader?
- What is a Broadcast Spreader?
- What’s the Difference Between a Drop Spreader and a Broadcast Spreader?
- When Should You Use a Drop Spreader?
- Can You Use a Drop Spreader for Grass Seed and Fertilizer?
- When Should You Use a Broadcast Spreader?
- Can You Use a Broadcast Spreader for Grass Seed and Fertilizer?
- Overall, What’s the Better Type of Spreader?
- What’s the More Affordable Spreader?
- Which Spreader is Faster?
- Does One Hold More Product Than the Other?
- Will a Drop Spreader or Broadcast Spreader Last Longer?
- What are the Best Drop Spreaders?
- What are the Best Broadcast Spreaders?
- Related Questions
- The Verdict – Which Spreader Should I Choose?
What is a Drop Spreader?
In simple terms, a drop spreader drops products. They will drop it between the wheels of the spreader. The exact amount it will drop depends on the spreader you have and the settings you have put on the spreader.
What is a Broadcast Spreader?
A broadcast spreader works differently. They fling seeds or granules in all directions. This allows the most amount of space to be covered in a shorter amount of time. There is also usually a deflector or guard on the back to ensure that seeds do not fling back onto you as you are pushing them around.
Most people who have very large lawns use broadcast spreaders. They provide the most lawn coverage in the shortest amount of time. Keep in mind though that it will always spread seeds at the pace that you walk.
The quicker you walk, the faster it will spread whatever you are trying to put onto the lawn.
What’s the Difference Between a Drop Spreader and a Broadcast Spreader?
The main difference is that a drop spreader gives you more control over where the product is going. You can control where you want the granules to go and where you do not want them. With the broadcast spreader, the product is going to be flung in every direction including some places you might not want the granules.
With a drop spreader though, you might not get even coverage. Drop spreaders are more precise because they ensure only the areas of the lawn that you want get granules. The pace that which they are spread is also not affected by the walking pace.
When Should You Use a Drop Spreader?
Drop spreaders are often the better choice for sidewalks and driveways. This is because you can walk along the edges of the driveway and make sure the granules are not being flung onto the pavement. One of the main reasons that homeowners try not to get granules onto the pavement is that they stain the surface.
They are also a better choice if you have a smaller lawn and only need to spread seeds in a small area.
Yes, you can use a drop spreader for distributing many different things around your yard and garden including grass seed and fertilizer. A drop spreader will allow you to distribute the materials much easier.
Pros of a Drop Spreader:
- Precise applications
- Good for flower beds
- Better for homes that have pavement around the lawn or garden
Cons of a Drop Spreader:
- Takes longer to spread the seeds
- Requires you to be very precise which can be annoying for some areas
- Needs you to be detail-focused
When Should You Use a Broadcast Spreader?
Broadcast spreaders are best if you need to spread material on the edges of the garden bed. Drop spreaders often miss these areas unless you walk right alongside the edge of the garden which can be time-consuming.
Broadcast spreaders are also good for larger yards such as ones that are 4,000 square feet or more. You can spread the seeds over a larger area in a smaller amount of time which saves you from needing to work harder.
Yes, you can use a broadcast spreader for grass seed and fertilizer. You can use this kind of spreader for anything that needs to be put around the yard including granules, seeds, and anything for the garden.
Pros of a Broadcast Spreader:
- Covers a large area in a small amount of time
- You can adjust the speed of spreading by walking slower or faster
- Saves time and energy because the work is done by the spreader
- Distributes material evenly
Cons of a Broadcast Spreader:
- Can put product where’s it’s not needed
- Difficult to control the pattern where the material is thrown
- Clean-up can be required if the material is spread in unwanted places
- Need to walk at a steady pace to make sure the application is accurate
Overall, What’s the Better Type of Spreader?
The better type of spreader depends on what you need. A drop spreader is often better if you have only a small space and want to be able to control where the material is going. Drop spreaders are better if you want the application to be precise.
However, the spreading often takes a long time because you have to walk around every space where you want the seeds and the granules to be placed.
Broadcast spreaders are better if you have a large lawn or place where you need to spread seeds. It can spray the product around the yard without you needing to think constantly about where the product is. You also don’t have to worry about not putting enough material around the yard.
What’s the More Affordable Spreader?
This depends on many different factors including the capacity and brand that you buy. Each spreader will have a certain capacity of how much product they can hold. Generally, the more the product it can hold, the more it will cost.
Some brands will also cost more than others. If you buy a popular name brand, you might pay more than if you buy a generic spreader.
Which Spreader is Faster?
Broadcast spreaders are controlled by the pace you are walking. So, if you walk more than the normal space, you can make the broadcast spreader very fast. A broadcast spreader can usually cover a larger amount of area in a shorter time because it sprays material around the lawn without you needing to hand cover every little area.
Does One Hold More Product Than the Other?
This depends on the spreader you buy. Each spreader comes in many different capacities and sizes so it will depend on which one you decide to purchase.
Will a Drop Spreader or Broadcast Spreader Last Longer?
This also depends on the one you buy. Some spreaders are nicer than others because they are made with more durable materials and cover the gears, so they do not become corroded. It’s important to make sure you buy a spreader with all the safety features you need and one that is built to last a long time.
What are the Best Drop Spreaders?
There are many different drop spreaders to choose from. Here are some of the best ones that can be found on Amazon.
This is a large capacity spreader that can work over 10,000 square feet. It has a heavy-duty frame and comes fully assembled to save you money. The 22-inch spread pattern is perfect for making sure your yard is covered accurately and efficiently. It comes fully ready to use.
This spreader can hold about 17 gallons or 175 pounds of material with a 40,000-square-foot coverage. It’s completely rust-proof which increases the overall lifespan of the product. It has a 42-inch controlled spread width and the pneumatic tires are perfect for smoothly gliding across your yard.
This spreader will give you 10,000 square feet of product. The tires are 10 inches. The steel agitators are galvanized which allows lumps to be broken up easily. The handles are also padded with foam so that you can have ultimate comfort while doing yardwork.
What are the Best Broadcast Spreaders?
Here are some of the best broadcast spreaders to consider.
This spreader comes with dual rotor technology with a 6-foot spread pattern. It holds up to 20,000 square feet of lawn product. The tires are meant for any terrain and will not pop easily. The handle has a smartphone holder. Only minor assembly is required.
This spreader holds up to 10,000 square feet of product. It has a simple trigger you can release when you want to stop moving. It can also be used as a rotary spreader.
The best part about this spreader is that it comes calibrated and fully assembled. It holds up to 5,000 square feet of product and the edge guard technology ensures that the product does not go onto your sidewalks and driveways.
How are Handheld Spreaders Different?
Handheld spreaders do not have wheels on them and you will not walk around pushing them. You will hold them in your hand and turn a lever while the material falls out onto the ground. They can be much more time-consuming to use and you will only be able to cover a small area.
Do Lawn Seed Spreaders Require Maintenance?
Most maintenance is simple and will not consume very much time. You will need to wash and clean it after each time you use it. Make sure to wash it as soon as you are done using it. You will also need to lubricate the gears according to the manufacturer’s manual.
Can You Buy Ice Melt and Salt Spreaders?
Yes, you can buy drop and broadcast spreaders for winter. Some lawn spreaders can be used to spread salt as well so you don’t even have to buy a new spreader.
The Verdict – Which Spreader Should I Choose?
The type of spreader you choose ultimately depends on your needs. Choose a broadcast spreader if you want to cover the most amount of area in a short time. Choose a drop spreader if you want to have more control over where the material is going.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.