Broadcast vs. Drop Spreaders - Differences & Which is Better

Written by Ivy

Dec 29 2022

Broadcast vs. Drop Spreaders - Differences & Which is Better

You've probably needed to spread fertilizer, lime, or seeds if you own a property with even a small lawn or garden. In the winter, these are also employed for ice melt application. How do you decide between a drop spreader and. a broadcast spreader? It depends on the circumstances.

There are two different kinds of spreaders: a broadcast spreader and a drop spreader. These operate a little bit differently. When applying fertilizer to your lawn, a drop spreader is more direct than a broadcast spreader because of its narrow path of release. Only the lawn beneath its two wheels receives fertilizer from a drop spreader.

What is a Lawn Spreader?

Lawn spreaders can also be known as seed spreaders or fertilizer spreaders, as the authors of Fancy Gardening explain. They are designed to scatter tiny granules across a lawn or other open area. Drop spreaders and broadcast spreaders are the two main distribution techniques for these devices, which come in a variety of sizes.

Further, each type can be either "push ahead," "tow behind" or handheld. All spreaders share a few common design elements, according to the Lawn Zen team. First, they have a "trough" or "hopper," to hold the seeds, fertilizer or whatever else is being spread. In order to release the contents, they also have an aperture at the base of the trough.

Spreaders also have a mechanism to distribute the contents of the trough and a way to open, close, and adjust the flow rate of the aperture. With the help of this collection of comparatively basic features, you can evenly apply your desired substance to any surface.

How Does a Broadcast Spreader Work?

When you move a broadcast spreader, it primarily flings fertilizer in all directions. This indicates that the fertilizer discharges from both the sides of the hopper in addition to the space between the two wheels. As you walk along, this ensures a wider distribution of fertilizer or other lawn products.

This type of broadcast spreader is typically guarded on the back. As a result, the fertilizer can no longer shoot out and strike the operator's legs.

To ensure that the proper amount of product is dispensed in all directions, the flow rate is typically controlled with a dial. The operator's walking speed has a significant impact on how quickly the product is dispensed. Therefore, the product is dispensed at a slower rate when you walk slowly compared to a faster rate when you walk quickly.

Due to their wide-spreading capacity, broadcast spreaders are perfect for people with a sizable lawn to cover. Because more ground can be covered on each pass, it saves a ton of time.

Pros of a Broadcast Spreader

  • one pass can cover a sizable portion of the lawn.
  • Ideal for large lawns.
  • has a shorter time due to the faster coverage of a large area.
  • Most are equipped with sizable hoppers that need filling less frequently.

Cons of a Broadcast Spreader

  • Wind has the potential to influence broadcasting.
  • Small lawn spaces or narrow grassy strips are not suitable.
  • Using lawn care products on driveways or flower beds could be wasteful.

How Does a Drop Spreader Work?

Drop spreaders operate in a slightly different manner. As their name would imply, they disperse the fertilizer along your path as opposed to broadcasting it. In essence, the rate at which the product is dropped between the wheels can be adjusted. Generally speaking, this is unrelated to how quickly you walk.

Since the fertilizer is dispersed with much greater accuracy as a result, a drop spreader. The fact that you have complete control over where the product goes also means that you are unlikely to waste any of it.

If you have a smaller lawn, these spreaders are perfect for you. They are also ideal for use on lawns that have paths and driveways encircling them. By walking along the edge of the lawn next to the driveway, you not only prevent product from being wasted on the driveway but also make sure the edge of the lawn is fertilized.

This prevents the driveway from potentially becoming stained by the fertilizer, in addition to wasting expensive fertilizer.

The only drawback to using this kind of spreader is that you have to cover the area much more precisely to make sure that your entire lawn is fertilized. Because it can be challenging to discern your past movements, this requires some practice.

You can solve this issue by setting your spreader to 50%. Next, walk in straight lines in one direction to cover the lawn in a crisscross pattern. Following that, proceed to walk across the lines you've already finished to cross the lawn area once more. In other words, you would start by walking in a north-south direction before switching to an east-west direction.

Pros of a Drop Spreader

  • The location at which the product is dispensed is very exact and accurate.
  • Ideal for small lawn areas and lawns that border driveways, paths, and garden beds.
  • Almost no lawn product is wasted.
  • very user-friendly, even for beginners.

Cons of a Drop Spreader

  • Due to the limited product spread with each pass, large lawn areas are not really suited for it.
  • Areas of the lawn that did not receive any fertilizer may have a tendency to develop stripes.
  • The smaller hopper may necessitate more frequent refills.
Broadcast vs. Drop Spreaders

Drop Spreader Vs. Broadcast Spreader

The names of the two types of spreaders—broadcast and drop—display their differences. Depending on how the device is configured, drop spreaders drop their contents directly beneath them in either a wider or more narrow arrangement.

By avoiding cross-contamination and carelessly seeding undesirable areas, this enables precise application. Because of this accuracy, using a drop spreader for larger areas can be laborious.

Broadcast spreaders use a set of spinning blades to "toss," or broadly cast the contents of the trough to the front and sides of the spreader. Compared to drop spreaders, these spreaders quickly cover a much larger area. Of course, precision is next to impossible due to the chaotic nature of the seed spray or ice melt, which can lead to grass growing in your garden or ice melt harming your lawn.

Spreader Vehicle Types

According to Average Person Gardening, push ahead spreaders resemble a cart or wheelbarrow that you push in front of you as you walk. They can have drop or broadcast mechanisms, but broadcast is more common, and are perfect for small to medium-sized lawns.

The back of a tractor, some riding lawn mowers, or other agricultural vehicles can be mounted with tow behind spreaders. These are useful for medium-sized to large fields and lawns, and while they work well with the broadcast mechanism, the drop spreader really shines in this application. Small lawns and gardens with an area of up to half an acre are typically the target for handheld spreaders. To expedite a tedious task that would otherwise take a long time, this type of spreader almost always uses a broadcast mechanism.

Drop Spreader Vs. Broadcast Spreader

– Differences

Here are the main characteristics that set a drop spreader apart from a broadcast spreader.

Mode of Operation

While a broadcast spreader broadcasts products, a drop spreader drops granules to spread them out.

A drop spreader has a hopper that has a row of holes at the bottom that let seeds fall to the ground. The granules are released by the tool when it is being pushed or driven by gravity, falling between its two wheels and moving in one direction.

A broadcast spreader, on the other hand, has a flywheel with a groove plate that releases seeds in various directions in a fan-like pattern.


A broadcast spreader disperses granules carelessly, while a drop spreader evenly distributes seeds.

Granules are distributed by a drop spreader in a single direction, exactly where you want them to go. With the help of this tool, you can apply granules precisely where you want them without having to worry about them spreading.

Granules are not precisely applied by a broadcast spreader, however. Tools are used to cover as many seeds as possible, not accurately.


Spreaders that drop out information are less effective than those that broadcast information.

The way a drop spreader works is slow. Maximum coverage isn't offered. As a result, it will require more passes to ensure complete coverage, adding to the time and effort required to finish a task.

A broadcast spreader, on the other hand, is extremely effective because it has maximum coverage and completes a task with less time and effort.


While a broadcast spreader has a broad coverage, a drop spreader has a limited one.

One small area is covered by a drop spreader's application of granules in a single line directly between its two wheels.

The application of granules in multiple directions by a broadcast spreader, on the other hand, covers a larger area in a single pass.

When to Use a Drop Spreader

These situations make it practical to use a drop spreader.

1. When the lawn is small: If you want to apply granulated grass seeds, fertilizer, or herbicide to a small lawn area, a drop spreader will work best.

2. When seeding near sidewalks, driveways, or flower beds: When spreading granules close to driveways, flowerbeds, and sidewalks, a drop spreader is the best option because it applies the material precisely where it is needed without spreading to nearby, undesirable areas.

3. When you have sufficient time at hand: In the event that you have more time to spread your granular product, a drop spreader would be appropriate. It takes longer to complete a task with this tool because its coverage is typically limited.

4. When you want precise coverage: If you want accurate coverage, a drop spreader is the best tool because it will drop the granules exactly where you want them.

When to Use a Broadcast Spreader

The following situations make using a broadcast spreader appropriate.

1. When the lawn is large: Given its capacity to scatter seeds in numerous directions, a broadcast spreader offers the greatest amount of coverage per pass when applying granules to lawns larger than 10,000 square feet.

2. When your land has difficult-to-reach parts: Given that it scatters granules over a considerable distance and in all directions, a broadcast spreader would be appropriate if your yard has numerous hard-to-access areas.

3. When you want maximum coverage: When applying seeds to all of your lawn areas with minimal concern for accuracy, a broadcast spreader is the best tool.

4. When you want to spend less time and effort: A broadcast spreader is the best option when you want to finish the task with less time and effort due to its high efficiency.

Can You Spread Grass Seed With a Drop Spreader?

To evenly distribute grass seeds when overseeding or reseeding your lawn, a drop spreader is a fantastic tool. With this tool, you can apply your granules uniformly and wastelessly where you want them.

You just need to push the machinery over the lawn, fasten it to your tractor, and adjust the number and rate of seeds.

In Summary

Depending on the size of your lawn area, you will need to decide between a broadcast spreader and a drop spreader. Broadcast spreaders are generally superior for larger lawn areas, while drop spreaders are more practical for smaller lawns or those that border driveways, paths, and garden beds.