Two Types of Spreaders and How They Work
Broadcaster spreaders and drop spreaders are push-powered
workhorses that share many features in common. At the heart of both is a
hopper with adjustable holes in the bottom. A gauge mounted on the spreader's
handlebar allows you to accurately set the size of these holes (following the
recommended setting listed on many bags of lawn products), allowing the proper
volume of material to uniformly exit the hopper. Alongside the gauge, a flow lever
controls when the material drops onto the lawn by opening and closing a plate
under the hopper holes. But the two machines have their differences, too.
Drop spreaders lay a trail of material the width of their hopper (less than 24 in.).
They work best on small lawns and in yards with numerous flowerbeds, sidewalks
or patios where you need to carefully control the spread pattern. Unless you're
meticulous about lining up adjacent passes, the payload either is laid too thick or
misses portions of the grass, resulting in visible striping.
Broadcast spreaders are the choice of the pros and the focus of our
story. Broadcasters work best for yards larger than 4,000 sq. ft. They deliver their
payload more quickly over a wider area—and
without striping the lawn. One of their wheels is
geared so that as you push the broadcaster, the
drive wheel turns a whirling impeller plate under
the hopper that catches and throws the payload.
When the shutoff plate is open, the impeller
broadcasts the material in a 180-degree arc 7 ft.
to 11 ft. wide (depending on the product's
granular size and your walking speed).