How To Spread Fertilizer Over A Lawn

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This article provides how to tips and instructions for spreading fertilizer over a lawn
by Brett · All Zones · Fertilizing · 0 Comments · October 05, 2014 · 6,708 views

If you want a nice, green, healthy lawn you'll definitely need to feed it. With the various lawn types, and myriad of lawn fertilizers on the market, things can get a little tricky and confusing, especially when it comes to spreading the fertilizer over the lawn area.

What Type of Fertilizer?

The type of fertilizer you use will depend on what type of lawn grass you have, your soil, and the time of year. I always recommend using granular fertilizers verses liquid fertilizers. Before starting on a lawn fertilization program, it's always best to test the soil to determine its pH (level of alkalinity or acidity) and to determine if there are any nutrient deficiencies that need correcting. Soil testing kits are available at most nursery and garden centers or you can check with your local Extension service to see if they provide soil testing services. If you have trouble finding a testing kit, you can buy soil test kits online here.

How Much Fertilizer To Apply

Since all granular fertilizers are sold based on how much area they will cover in square feet, it's always a good idea to know the size of your lawn before purchasing and spreading the fertilizer. Otherwise, you could spread too much and burn your lawn grass or too little and not get desired results.

Measuring your lawn for square footage is fairly simple...

Square or rectangular Areas: All you do is measure and multiply the length of your lawn by the width of your lawn. For example, if your lawn area is 100 feet long by 70 feet wide the equation would look like this:

100' x 70' = 7,000 total square feet.

Multiple Lawn Areas: If you have several lawn areas, simply measure and calculate the square feet in each area and then add all the areas together to determine total square footage.

Curvy, Irregular Lawn Areas: If the lines of your lawn are curvy, divide the lawn into square or rectangular sections and do the best you can to measure and calculate sqaure footage of each section, then add these together to determine total square footage. When measuring for fertilizer, you don't have to be exact in your measuring, just close.

Round Lawn Area: To calculate the square footage of a circle, multiply 3.14 (pi) times the square of the radius (the distance from the center of the circle to the circle's outside edge or circumference). "Square of the radius" means the radius x 2. If the radius is 20 feet, the sqaure of 20 feet (20' x 20') is 400 feet. Then you would multiply 400' x 3.14 (pi) to get 1256 total square feet.

Triangle Area: To calculate the square feet area of a right triangle (a triangle with one 90-degree angle), multiply 0.5 times the base (the short line attached to the right angle) times the height (the long line attached to the right angle).

How To Spread Granular Fertilizer

Type of Spreader: I always recommend using granular fertilizers, spread with a rotary type fertilizer spreader. Unless you want your lawn striped like the American flag, DO NOT use a drop spreader to apply lawn fertilizers.

Spreader Settings: "What setting do I set my spreader on to spread the fertilizer?" This is a question I've heard more than any other over the years regarding spreading granular fertilizers using rotary spreaders. Seems like there'd be a pretty straightforward and simple answer to this question. But there isn't.

First off, there are so many different brands and types of fertilizer spreaders on the market it's impossible for fertilizer companies to list all the settings on the bag of fertilizer. Secondly, because individuals walk at different speeds, the spreader settings listed on the bags won't work the same for everyone. To be entirely accurate, walking speeds would also have to be listed. Do you know how fast you walk? Didn't think so. Neither do I. So that won't work. do we go about accurately and evenly applying the specified amount of fertilizer over a specified square footage of lawn area?

  1. Start by filling your spreader with half of the recommended amount of fertilizer it would take to cover the specific lawn area, or a section of your lawn. For example, if your lawn is 10,000 square feet in size, and the bag of fertilizer will cover 10,000 square feet, pour half of the fertilizer from the bag into the spreader hopper. Then select a low spreader setting. For example, if the setting numbers go from 1 to 10, set on 3. If 20, set on 5 or 6.
  2. Walk to one corner of the area you will fertilize, and begin applying fertilizer over the lawn in parallel rows (east to west). Space the parallel rows so that fertilizer applied in one row does not overlap fertilizer applied in adjacent rows. Walk at a steady pace, and dispense the fertilizer evenly over the lawn as you walk.

  3. When you have completed this first pass, fill your spreader with the rest of the fertilizer in the bag, Adjust the spreader setting as necessary so that on your second pass all of the remaining fertilizer will be broadcast over the same lawn area. Spread the remaining fertilizer in parallel rows that cross over your first set of rows at a right angle.

Hope this article helped. If you need more details don't hesitate to ask them in the comment section below.

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