8 Best Fertilizer Spreaders in 2024 [Reviews]

person spreading fertilizer on grass with a spreader with text overlay using canva pro

If you want a lush lawn, you have to apply fertilizer accurately and evenly. However, not all fertilizer spreaders are created equal. So, we carefully compared Lowe’s, Home Depot, Amazon, and Walmart models to find the best fertilizer spreaders.

Our list includes drop and broadcast spreaders for lawns, walkways, and driveways. We found models for yards as large as 2 acres and as small as 1,500 square feet. 

Our top picks

Best fertilizer spreaders for over ½ acre
1. John Deere Tow-Behind Broadcast Spreader (LPBS36JD)
2. Agri-Fab Poly Pro Tow Drop Spreader (45-0288)
Best fertilizer spreaders for ¼ to ½ acre
1. Scotts Elite Spreader (75902-1)
2. Echo Pro Push Broadcast Spreader (RB-85)
Best fertilizer spreaders for ⅛ to ¼ acre
1. Earthway Walk-Behind Broadcast Spreader (2600A-Plus)
2. Scotts Turf Builder Classic Drop Spreader (76565)
Best Fertilizer Spreaders for under ⅛ acre
1. Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard Mini (76121-3)
2. Vigoro Hand Spot Shaker (690103)

Top 2 fertilizer spreaders for over ½ acre

1. John Deere Tow-Behind Broadcast Spreader (LPBS36JD)

John Deere Tow-Behind Broadcast Spreader - LPBS36JD

The best broadcast spreader for large yards is the John Deere LPBS36JD. It helps homeowners quickly cover ¾ to 2-acre lawns without using a lot of elbow grease. Its universal connector attaches to lawn tractors, zero-turn mowers, and other vehicles with a rear hitch plate.

We were impressed by it’s laundry list of lavish features, including:

  • Heavy-Duty Hopper: Its rustproof poly hooper has stainless steel hardware and a 175-pound capacity. 
  • Wide Broadcast Range: It has the broadest spread on our list. With strong, heat-resistant gears in a fully enclosed gearbox, it throws granules as far as 12 feet.
  • Pneumatic Tires: The spreader’s tubeless tires get terrific traction with long-lasting turf-tread. 
  • Calibration Control: It has a user-friendly calibration dial that locks and comes with hundreds of pre-calibrated settings. 
  • Accurate Flow Control: John Deere’s Autoflow technology accurately disperses product when the spreader is in motion and automatically stops spreading when you’re still. It’s easy to guide the spread away from obstacles, such as pavement or garden beds.

We were dazzled but not dumbfounded by the LPBS36JD’s speed, accuracy, and stability. John Deere is America’s leading producer of riding equipment for lawns and agriculture. Like most of their riding lawn mowers, John Deere builds their tow-behind spreaders at state-of-the-art American manufacturing facilities with world-renowned quality control. 

Specifications

  • Handling: Tow-behind
  • Holding capacity: 175 lb.
  • Lawn size: ¾ – 2 acres
  • Max spread width: 12 feet
  • Spread type: Broadcast
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Weight: 49 lb.

Pros and Cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Heavy-duty hopper
✓ Wide broadcast range
✓ Accurate spread
✓ Sturdy construction
✓ Pneumatic tires
✓ Easy calibration
✓ Made in USA
✗ Expensive
✗ Difficult to assemble

Where to buy

2. Agri-Fab Poly-Pro Tow Drop Spreader (45-0288)

Agri-Fab Polypropylene 45-0288 175-Pound Max Tow Behind Drop Spreader, Black 42 Inch

The Agri-Fab Poly-Pro 45-0288 is our favorite large-yard drop spreader. It evenly spreads lawn products, ice melt, or sand and is ideal for ½ to 1-acre lawns. Like the John Deere LPBS36JD, the Agri-Fab 45-0288 connects to just about any lawn vehicle with a rear hitch plate. 

We carefully compared it to competing models, and the Poly-Pro prevailed with persuasive points, including:

  • Predictable Spread: It disperses product between its wheels, giving it a consistent 42-inch spread. Avoiding unwanted areas is easy because you know precisely where the fertilizer falls.
  • Heavy-Duty Hopper: It has a rustproof poly hopper that holds up to 175 pounds of product. 
  • Steel Agitator: The spreader’s galvanized steel agitator is rust-resistant and easy to clean. 
  • Pneumatic Tires: Its 12-inch tires gracefully glide across the grass, even under unfavorable conditions.

If you have a large lawn and a riding mower, the Poly-Pro is an excellent addition to your tool shed. You’ll appreciate its accuracy and durability. It’s skillfully constructed in America using foreign parts.

Specifications

  • Handling: Tow-behind
  • Holding capacity: 175 lb.
  • Lawn size: ½ – 1 acre
  • Max spread width: 3.5 feet
  • Spread type: Drop
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Weight: 50 lb.

Pros and Cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Accurate dispersal 
✓ Heavy-duty hopper
✓ Easy to control 
✓ Pneumatic tires 
✓ Galvanized steel agitator
✗ Hard to reach the shutoff switch while sitting in the tractor
✗ Clogs sometimes
✗ Assembly instructions are hard to follow
✗ Slower than broadcast spreaders

Where to buy

Top 2 fertilizer spreaders for ¼ to ½ acre

1. Scotts Elite Spreader (75902-1)

Scotts Elite Spreader for Grass Seed, Fertilizer, Salt, Ice Melt, Durable Push Spreader Holds up to 20,000 sq.ft. Product

The best fertilizer spreader for flat ¼ acre to ½ acre yards is Scotts Elite Spreader. This walk-behind broadcast spreader is durable, easy to use, and competitively priced. 

It has fantastic features, including:

  • Large Hopper: With an 80-pound capacity, you won’t have to stop to refill it. 
  • EdgeGuard Technology: It blocks the right side of its spread pattern, helping you avoid obstacles such as flower beds, bushes, and trees.
  • Dual Rotors: Its dual rotors improve the spreader’s accuracy. 
  • Ergonomic Handle: The spreader’s comfortable to push on flat, even ground. The handle has a satisfying grip and is equipped with a smartphone holder. 
  • Never-Flat Tires: If you have a relatively flat lawn, never-flat tires are great! However, those with sloped or uneven lawns get better traction with pneumatic tires. 

You can use Scotts Elite Spreader year-round to apply fertilizer, grass seed, ice melt, and just about any other granular product. It’s very sturdy and covered by a lifetime guarantee. 

Specifications

  • Handling: Walk-behind
  • Holding capacity: 80 lb.
  • Lawn size: ¼ acre – ½ acre
  • Max spread width: 6 feet
  • Spread type: Broadcast
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Weight: 20 lb.

Pros and Cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Fast✓ Ergonomic
✓ Large hopper
✓ Lifetime warranty
✓ Easily avoids landscaping
✓ Affordable
✗ Hard to push on uneven terrain
✗ Hard to push uphill
✗ It takes some effort to squeeze the lock button

Where to buy

2. Echo Pro Push Broadcast Spreader (RB-85)

Echo Pro Push Broadcast Spreader (RB-85)

The best spreader for ¼ to ½ lawns that are uneven or sloped is the Echo Pro Push Broadcast Spreader. It’s user-friendly, accurate, and easy to push over rough terrain.

It has these quintessential qualities:

  • Sturdy Construction: It has a powder-coated steel frame, metal gears, and a heavy-duty gear case.
  • Large Capacity: The spreader stays stable with up to 85 pounds of material in the hooper. 
  • Accurate Spread: Echo pre-calibrates the RB-85 under controlled conditions to ensure its accuracy. If your lawn has obstacles, use its side deflector to keep your landscaping and driveway safe from lawn chemicals. Additionally, it has a high-quality auger that prevents clumping, so granules smoothly disperse at a consistent rate. 
  • Easy-to-Reach Controls: The spreader controls are on its T-shaped handle, and you control the deflector with your foot. 
  • Pneumatic Tires: Its 13-inch tires move smoothly on uneven ground.

The RB-85 handles challenging jobs without a hiccup. But it’s costly. It’s worth it if you have rugged terrain, otherwise you’ll fare better with Scotts Elite Spreader. If you get a lot of heavy snow, rain, or wind you may want to consider the RB-85S. It’s like the RB-85 but with a stainless steel frame that’s highly weather resistant. 

Specifications

  • Handling: Walk-behind
  • Holding capacity: 85 lb.
  • Lawn size: ¼ acre – ½ acre
  • Max spread width: 8 feet
  • Spread type: Broadcast
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • Weight: 35 lb.

Pros and Cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Large hopper
✓ Wide broadcast range
✓ Pneumatic tires
✓ User-friendly controls
✓ Ergonomic handle
✓ Factory calibrated
✓ Easily avoids landscaping
✗ Expensive
✗ Heavy

Where to buy

Top 2 fertilizer spreaders for ⅛ to ¼ acre

1. Earthway Walk-Behind Broadcast Spreader (2600A-Plus)

Earthway Walk-Behind Broadcast Spreader (2600A-Plus)

The best broadcast spreader for ⅛ to ¼ acre lawns is the Earthway Walk-Behind Broadcast Spreader. It’s built tough and is easy to push through various terrain. 

Earthway’s fertilizer spreader has tons of terrific traits, including:

  • EVEN-SPREAD: Earthway’s patented 3-hole drop shut-off system feathers the spread’s edge for accurate applications. It disperses half of the product to the left of the centerline and half to the right.
  • Stop Setting: You can use the stop setting to push the spreader without dispersing material. 
  • Pneumatic Tires: Its 9-inch high-flotation tires easily move over rough terrain. 
  • High-Speed Gearbox: Its gearbox is fast and durable, so changing the spreader setting is quick and easy. 
  • Weather resistance: Its enduring construction includes rustproof poly rims, an epoxy powder-coated steel frame, and a rustproof poly hopper. 
  • Lifetime Tech Support: If you ever have any issues, you can call Earthway. The spreader comes with lifetime tech support, which may come in handy when assembling it. We had some trouble following the assembly instructions.

Additionally, the EarthWay 2600A-Plus is made in America at Earthway’s Bristol, Indiana plant. It’s an excellent all-terrain spreader for fertilizer, grass seed, and other granules.

Specifications

  • Handling: Walk-behind
  • Holding capacity: 40 lb.
  • Lawn size: ⅛ – ¼ acre
  • Max spread width: 3 feet
  • Spread type: Broadcast
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • Weight: 15 lb.

Pros and Cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Pneumatic tires
✓ Lifetime tech support
✓ Sturdy construction
✓ Made in USA
✓ Even spread
✗ The assembly instructions are hard to follow
✗ Less accurate on low settings

Where to buy

2. Scotts Turf Builder Classic Drop Spreader (76565)

Scotts Turf Builder Classic Drop Spreader, Great for Applying Grass Seed and Fertilizer, Holds up to 10,000 sq. ft of Product

The best drop spreader for ⅛ to ¼ acre lawns is Scotts Turf Builder Classic Drop Spreader. It’s accurate, durable, and affordable. 

Its desirable details include:

  • No Assembly Required: It comes pre-calibrated and fully assembled, so it’s ready to use right out of the box. 
  • Metal Frame: It has a sturdy all-metal frame.
  • Excellent Spread: Drop spreaders are more accurate than broadcast models because the product drops directly below its hopper. With a 22-inch spread pattern, the Classic Drop Spreader covers ground quicker than most drop spreaders. 

It evenly spreads lawn care products like fertilizer and herbicide. These products work best when you apply exact amounts evenly throughout the lawn. Although it takes longer to spread fertilizer with a drop spreader, many homeowners are willing to take the time to ensure a lush, healthy lawn.

Specifications

  • Handling: Walk-behind
  • Holding capacity: 32 lb.
  • Lawn size: 5,000 sq. ft. – ¼ acre
  • Max spread width: 1.9 feet
  • Spread type: Drop
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime
  • Weight: 13 lb.

Pros and Cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Easy to maneuver around obstacles
✓ Accurate dispersal 
✓ Lifetime warranty
✓ Comes ready to use
✗ Hard to push on uneven terrain
✗ Slower than broadcast spreaders

Where to buy

Top 2 Fertilizer Spreaders for under ⅛ acre

1. Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard Mini (76121-3) 

Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard Mini Broadcast Spreader for Seed,Fertilizer,Salt,Ice Melt, Holds up to 5,000 sq.ft. Product

The best broadcast spreader for spaces smaller than 5,000 square feet is the Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard Mini. It’s lightweight and easy to maneuver on small, flat lawns, driveways, and walkways. 

The EdgeGuard Mini comes with these cunning characteristics: 

  • No Assembly Required: It comes pre-calibrated and fully assembled, ready to use immediately. 
  • Reliable Spread Pattern:  It has a dual-bladed agitator and curved hopper for better consistency. As long as your lawn isn’t too bumpy, it evenly disperses materials like fertilizer and ice melt.
  • EdgeGuard Technology: Scotts EdgeGuard technology blocks the right side of its spread pattern. This makes avoiding obstructions (such as flowerbeds, bushes, and pavement) easier. 
  • Easy to Store: It’s small and lightweight with foldable handles.

If you need a small broadcast spreader, the EdgeGuard Mini is affordable and easy to use. 

Specifications

  • Handling: Walk-behind
  • Holding capacity: 15 lb.
  • Lawn size: Up to 5,000 sq. ft.
  • Max spread width: 5 feet
  • Spreader type: Broadcast
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime
  • Weight: 10.67 lb.

Pros and Cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Affordable
✓ Comes ready to use
✓ Lightweight
✓ Foldable handles
✓ Dual-bladed agitator
✗ Hard to push on uneven terrain
✗ Coverage isn’t always consistent on uneven terrain

Where to buy

2. Vigoro Hand Spot Shaker (690103)

Vigoro Hand Spot Shaker (690103)

The Vigoro Hand Spot Shaker is the best handheld drop spreader. It’s inexpensive and straightforward. We recommend it for accurate applications on spaces no bigger than 1,500 square feet. 

It has several pleasing perks, including:

  • Distribution Plate: You can control the application rate and apply a consistent amount of product.
  • Spreader Settings: It has three spread positions — a grain screen, a large grain screen, and a full screen.
  • ABS/PP Construction: It’s resilient against force and impact.
  • Ergonomic Handle: It’s comfortable to hold.

The Vigoro 690103 is a simple solution to applying granular products on small spaces.

Specifications

  • Handling: Handheld
  • Holding capacity: 5.8 lb.
  • Lawn size: Up to 1,500 sq. ft.
  • Spreader type: Drop
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Weight: .83 lb.

Pros and Cons

What we liked What we didn’t like
✓ Affordable
✓ Easy to use
✓ Precise
✓ Ergonomic
✗ Slower than a walk-behind
✗ Doesn’t disperse powders well

Where to buy

Buyer’s Guide

Savvy shoppers compare the following fertilizer spreader characteristics: 

  • Hopper
  • Types of spreaders
  • Handling styles
  • Spread width
  • Cost

Hopper

The hopper is the part of the fertilizer spreader that holds granules. When comparing hoppers, please consider the following:

  • Holding Capacity: Ideally, you want a hopper that holds enough fertilizer to cover your entire lawn. Most spreaders have a holding capacity of 20 to 120 pounds. Tow-behinds tend to have the largest hoppers, and handhelds have the smallest. 
  • Durability: Stainless steel hoppers are the most durable. Both stainless steel and plastic hoppers resist rust and corrosion. Some steel rusts, but hoppers made of them typically have a protective coating. The coating works great until it wears off. 
  • Accuracy: Drop spreaders with a steel hopper are more accurate than those with a plastic hopper. 
  • Cost: Spreaders with steel hoppers cost much more than those with plastic hoppers. 

The table below shows our holding capacity recommendations by lawn size.

Lawn Size (acre)Holding Capacity (lb.)
< ⅛ 5 – 30 
⅛ – ¼ 30 – 60 
¼ – ½ 60 – 90 
½ – 1 90 – 175

Types of spreaders

There are two types of fertilizer spreaders, and each is defined by its dispersal method: 

  • Broadcast/rotary spreaders “throw” granules. They use a rotating plate to spread fertilizer in a fan-like fashion so you cover more ground at once. Broadcast spreaders are quicker than drop spreaders, but their dispersal is less accurate. 
  • Drop spreaders “drop” granules. The fertilizer falls directly under the hopper, giving you more control over dispersal. This is handy when you don’t want a lawn care product touching nearby landscaping (or other obstacles). However, applications take longer with drop spreaders due to their narrow spread range.

Handling styles

Both broadcast and drop spreaders come in these handling styles:

  • Handheld spreaders are lightweight, simple, and affordable. They work best on spaces less than 1,500 square feet, such as small lawns and walkways.
  • Mounted spreaders can care for larger areas than handhelds, but are still best for small yards. They have a higher holding capacity because their shoulder/chest straps help you carry the weight. Some mounted broadcast spreads can hold enough product for lawns as large as ¼ acre.
  • Walk-behind/push spreaders are the most popular and best for medium-sized lawns. Pushing weight is much less strenuous than carrying it, so they typically hold enough lawn product to cover up to ¼ to ½ acres. 
  • Tow-behind/pull-behind spreaders attach to your riding mower or ATV and are best for large lawns. They make it quick and easy to cover a lot of ground. Most tow-behind spreaders have large hoppers that hold 80 to 175 pounds, but some have an even higher weight capacity. 
Handling styleTreatment area
Handheld Up to 1,500 sq. ft.
Shoulder/Chest-Mounted Up to ¼ acre
Walk-Behind⅛ – ¾  acre
Tow-Behind ½ acre or more

Spread width

Most lawn spreaders have a spread width between 2 and 14 feet. Models with a broader spread width cover more ground at once, so it takes less time to apply fertilizer.

Consider getting a model with a broad spread if you have a large yard. Narrow spreads are best for small yards, narrow walkways, and lawns with many landscaping obstacles. 

Cost

Most fertilizer spreaders cost $30 to $425, but prices vary based on spreader type and handling style. 

Average Cost of a Fertilizer Spreader$225
Typical Price Range$30 – $425
Extreme Low$10
Extreme High$1,400
  • Cheapest: Handheld drop spreaders are the cheapest, typically costing $10 – $30.
  • Most expensive: Heavy-duty walk-behind drop spreaders with steel hoppers are the most expensive, typically costing $1,200 to $1,400.

Average Cost by Handling Style

HandlingAverage Cost
Handheld$25
Shoulder/Chest-Mounted$70
Tow$290
Walk-behind$345

FAQ about spreading fertilizer

What can I apply with a fertilizer spreader?

You can use a spreader to apply just about any granular material. Many homeowners use them year-round, applying the following products:

  • Grass Seed: For a lush lawn, overseed using a fertilizer or seed spreader. 
  • Ice Melt: Use your spreader to apply ice melt or salt on sidewalks and driveways. If you do a lot of DIY snow removal, you should also take a look at the best snow shovels and the best snow blowers

How do I apply liquid fertilizer?

Liquid lawn products are typically applied using a sprayer. Some liquid fertilizers come in a spray bottle that attaches to your garden hose for application. 

What should I look for in a fertilizer?

Here are some fertilizer basics to consider:

  • NPK: NPK are the primary nutrients needed for a healthy lawn — nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Get a soil test to see what your soil lacks. 
  • Liquid Vs. Granular Fertilizer: Liquid fertilizers are typically quick-release, so they immediately feed grass a hearty helping of nutrients. Granules are slow-release, gradually releasing nutrients over weeks or months. Liquids green-up quicker but require more applications and have a higher risk of fertilizer burn

When to hire a lawn fertilization pro

DIY fertilization is tough. First, you must find the best lawn food and fertilizer spreader. Then, you need the skill and strength to apply the product properly. Save yourself time and struggle by hiring a lawn fertilization pro.

Lawn Love links you to insured outdoor service pros with affordable rates. It only takes a moment to get a free online quote, and you can manage your service using our user-friendly app. In addition to fertilization, you can get a quote for lawn mowing, aeration, and just about anything else your lawn needs to look its best. 

Lawn Love participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other retailer affiliate programs. Lawn Love may earn revenue from products promoted in this article.

Main Image Credit: BanksPhotos / Canva Pro / License with Text Overlay using Canva Pro

Michelle Selzer

Michelle Selzer is a witty writer with a passion for plants and outdoor power tools. When she's not out in the yard, Michelle enjoys fishing, hunting, and chasing waterfalls.