Using a spreader to fertilise a lawn

There are many types of lawn feed available. While liquid feeds can be applied using a watering can, solid feeds are best distributed using a spreader. The spreader helps to ensure an even spread which helps to avoid patchy growth or damage to areas of your lawn. 


If you are using a drop-spreader, to ensure even distribution it can help to split the fertiliser into two batches, applying the first batch in one direction and the second at right angles to the original direction. Walk over the lawn as if mowing, working up and down the lawn in adjoining straight lines, being careful not to overlap. Remember to close the supply as you turn at the end of each stretch.

Broadcast spreaders

For even distribution over a larger area, a broadcast spreader helps. The RHS recommends that you “set the machine to half the application rate and make adjacent runs at half the distance apart of the machine’s spread. For example, if the extent of the spread is 2m, make the runs 1m apart.”

Whichever method you choose, there are three key points to remember:

  1. Follow the dosage instructions on the feed packet
  2. Water the lawn well after applying a solid feed
  3. Avoid filling a spreader on the lawn itself, as any accidental spills of feed will lead to over-fertilised ‘burnt’ patches.

Achieving even coverage

Calibrating the spreader before application will help you work out the correct distribution rate. 

Find a dry, flat area of concrete or paving and chalk out a measured area, for example 4sqm. 

Set the spreader to medium and fill it quarter full. 

Spread the fertiliser as evenly as possible over the marked area, as if over the lawn, then brush up all the fertiliser within the area and weigh it. 

Divide this weight by the area, in this case 4sqm. This tells you the application rate in grams per sqm. 

Adjust the machine setting accordingly, and then check the application rate over the same measured area. Repeat the process until the rate is correct.  

Visit our Fertilising your turf page for more advice on when and how to fertilise your lawn.