Whether you are going to plant new seedlings or apply granular lawn care products, a drop spreader can always do the trick. With this piece of equipment, you wouldn’t have to worry about having an unequal distribution of fertilizer or seeds.
However, not all drop spreaders are built with the same quality. You may waste more money and time than necessary before you realize. Thus, we’re here to help you find the best drop spreader for your lawn.
A drop spreader is primarily meant to produce precise coverage using lawn care products in an area not exceeding 5,000 square feet. Aside from those, you can use a drop spreader to spread grass seeds, ice melt, and sand, among others. As the name implies, it is meant to drop the granular product between the wheels. Specifically, there are holes at the bottom section of the hopper through which the products go down from.
In order to avoid covering the same area twice and leading to unequal distribution, you could just look at the marks left by the wheels to know which section has been dealt with. This is what makes it significantly different from a broadcast spreader, which is meant for big lawns. Compared to a broadcast spreader, a drop spreader effectively stops the products from going beyond where they should be.
On the other hand, a broadcast spreader quickly releases its granular products over a wide area but sacrifices precision for it. When there are strong winds, the coverage becomes more scattered. With a drop spreader, you can accurately cover all the rows in your lawn even with strong winds. Furthermore, a drop spreader has a sizable wheel that can help you move around tight corners and uneven terrain with relative ease.
While the overall speed of the operation depends on how fast you will be walking on your lawn, the design of the drop spreader also matters a lot. There are different sizes such as ¼ inches and 3/16 inches for the opening that drops down the granular products. Likewise, some drop spreaders have control mechanisms meant for conveniently turning off the spreader so you won’t waste any of the products.
Here’s a video showing the difference between a drop spreader and a broadcast spreader:
Compared to broadcast spreaders, drop spreaders are easier to operate and navigate around the lawn. Mainly because they are built to focus on dropping granular substances and they have fewer working parts than the broadcast variants.
Still, your drop spreader needs to be as sturdy and well-functioning as any other piece of lawn care equipment. Before you purchase your own drop spreader, you have to look into several factors to ensure that you’ve picked a reliable model.
A hopper made out of plastic does not mean to be a flimsy one. Instead, it should be fairly durable. Note that not all plastics are the same, so take a good look at the quality of the plastic used for the hopper. There are plastic hoppers that are immune to corrosion (PVS hoppers or polypropylene hoppers), which makes them a fantastic choice for spreading fertilizers. Of course, you can also choose a hopper made of stainless steel as this material is known to improve the precision of the drop spreader.
One more important factor to consider is that the holes should be big enough for the products to go down from. If seeds and fertilizer cannot go through with ease, the flow will be affected and the operation will be delayed.
Both the axle and the wheels should be sturdy enough. Typically, the wheels of the drop spreader range from 10 to 12 inches in size. If the wheels are smaller, the hopper cannot be placed at a decent height to prevent debris and other objects from blocking the holes and disrupting the flow. The wheels are made of plastic, but they should be tough enough to capably move the spreader on uneven terrain.
One of the most surprisingly common complaints about a drop spreader model is the height of the handle. Some handles are simply too short for people to use. The users, therefore, have to bend their backs miserably. The handle should be high enough for the operator to comfortably push or pull the drop spreader.
Thankfully, most of the drop spreaders built nowadays have adjustable handles. Thus, other people can use the same model by simply lowering or raising the handle height. In addition, some handles have cushions on them to enhance grip and to lessen the fatigue as you use the drop spreader.
Our first product comes from Agri-Fab of which model is designed for easy navigation and product distribution. The brand knows that the weather can be unpredictable, so the components of the Agri-Fab 45-0288 Tow Behind Drop Spreader are as durable and weather-resistant as possible. After all, you will also be using this to spread sand or ice melt.
This model goes even one step further by utilizing poly construction. Therefore, its parts are highly resistant to corrosion. The steel agitator, apart from being rust-resistant, is galvanized for added durability. Along with the poly hopper and the spread plate, the agitator is designed for easy cleaning.
The hopper can accommodate up to 17 gallons or 175 pounds of lawn care products. In other words, the Agri-Fab 45-0288 can cover up to 40,000 square feet or one acre area. In order to cover that area with relative ease, the spread width should measure at 42 inches. Moreover, the pneumatic tires can basically guide you along uneven surfaces without much trouble.
As for the warranty, Agri-Fab offers a three-year limited consumer warranty. If you regularly check this drop spreader for any problems and store it properly, we think that it will be as good as new even after several years. Assembling the Agri-Fab 45-0288 Tow Behind Drop Spreader took us 40 minutes, and we advise you to have an adjustable socket wrench to speed up the assembly time.
The adjustment arm of this drop spreader can feel a bit flimsy, but that’s a minor issue as all other components are sturdy enough. You might have to bend the flow control rod more if you think that it isn’t aligned perfectly with the brackets.
The ground clearance is around five inches. That’s already a good measurement, but you could increase this by using bigger pneumatic wheels if you’d like. Likewise, changing the flow rate for your lawn care products is simple with the controls. For many applications, using the 1 or 2 flow rate setting is suitable.
Our second drop spreader is from none other than Scotts Turf. Just like the Agri-Fab 45-0288, the Scotts Turf Builder Classic Drop Spreader has a durable frame to maintain stability during application. The hopper can accommodate enough lawn care products to cover 10,000 square feet of one’s lawn.
Unlike other drop spreaders, this one arrives assembled and pre-calibrated. You just have to cut any cable ties and adjust the nuts on the handles if they are loose. Check if the calibration is adequate for lawn care applications.
Additionally, the Scotts Turf Builder Classic Drop Spreader uses a 22-inch spread pattern to lessen the number of rows you need to go through to cover the lawn. Using this drop spreader won’t cause fatigue as it is light enough to be pushed even along slopes.
There can be occasional stripes at the edges, so you should be careful when you’re moving along those narrow spots. On the other hand, the handle feels sturdy, but the hand grip on it is a bit problematic. The grip is made of foam, and it can quickly have rips after using the Scotts Turf Builder Classic Drop Spreader several times.
Moreover, the ground clearance could have been a tad higher. Using this Scotts Turf drop spreader on relatively tall and wet grass can lead to clogging, especially when the feeder becomes wet. If you haven’t shortened the grass height, you must pay attention to check if the flow is still the same.
Our third and final product is the SaltDogg WB400 Walk Behind Drop Salt Spreader. As the name implies, this drop spreader is specifically designed for spreading salt in your lawn. Still, you can use to distribute ice-melt products too. The durable and rust-resistant poly hopper measures 2.5 cubic feet in size and has a capacity of up to 100 pounds of ice-melt products or salt.
The SaltDogg WB400 also has a spread pattern that can go as far as 24 feet. Like the other entries, there are pneumatic wheels that help the spreader move on slippery ice and wet surfaces without losing balance. Another feature SaltDogg implemented is the double-stitched rain cover to keep it away from too much moisture and rain.
There’s a metal hopper screen to stop materials from being spread on unwanted areas while the handle is coated with black powder to improve the grip. The problem, however, is that it can be cumbersome to adjust the application rate because the control is quite small. In addition, this drop spreader is heavier than the other two entries. As expected, it’s difficult to move this around in narrow corners and sections.
Overall, our favorite among these three drop spreaders is none other than the Agri-Fab 45-0288 Tow Behind Drop Spreader. We need a reliable product, and this one does its job well. The instruction manual is detailed enough for us to assemble the drop spreader in less than an hour. Likewise, the components are designed to be corrosion-resistant and weather-resistant.
Moreover, we want a drop spreader that can be used for a variety of products. Aside from fertilizers and grass seeds, we don’t have a problem with using this for spreading ice-melt and sand. The five-inch ground clearance is adequate enough to prevent any flow disruptions, and the flow rate settings can be quickly changed.
The Agri-Fab 45-0288 drop spreader is undoubtedly our most impressive drop spreader because carries up to 175 pounds of lawn care products – the highest among the three products. You can cover the largest - one acre without any refills, thanks in part to the 42-inch spread width. If that wasn’t enough, the pneumatic tires work well, the parts are all easy to clean for quick maintenance, and there’s a three-year limited warranty.
We hope that this guide helped you pick the right drop spreader. By using the best model for your lawn, you can prevent any striping issues while also saving you a lot of time and energy in distributing seeds and lawn care products equally.
If you have any questions, feel free to give us a comment.
With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...