Posted by Brent Wilson on 9/1/2016 to Fertilizing & Watering Tips
Fertilizing a lawn isn't rocket science. However, for best results, and to avoid ending up with a lawn striped like the American flag, there are a few helpful tips you should know.
Size is Important!
Since most granular fertilizer are sold in bags that list how much square feet of lawn area they'll cover, it's important to know the total square footage of your lawn. To determine total square feet, simply measure and multiply the length by the width of your lawn.
For example, if your lawn is 50 feet long by 100 feet wide the equation would look like this:
50' x 100' = 5000 Total Square Feet
If you have several sections of lawn area, you can measure the square footage of each section and then add the sections together to come up with total square footage. If you don't have a calculator and aren't that good at math, plug your measurements in this Square Feet Calculator.
If you have a round lawn or need more help with measuring square footage, see: How To Measure for Total Square Feet
Type of Spreader
To get even coverage and distribution of fertilizer, I always recommend spreading granular fertilizers over a lawn with a rotary type fertilizer spreader. Unless you want your lawn striped like the American flag, DO NOT use a drop-type spreader to apply lawn fertilizers. You might think you can walk a straight line. You can't. At least not when spreading fertilizer over a lawn!
"What setting do I set my spreader on to spread the fertilizer?" This is a question I've heard often over the years. 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 for each specific type of spreader. Too, 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 we. So that won't work.
So...how do we go about accurately and evenly applying the specified amount of fertilizer over a specific square footage of lawn area? That's in the next tip.
How To Spread the Fertilizer
Start by filling your spreader with half of the recommended amount of fertilizer it would take to cover the specific size lawn area, or a section of your lawn.
For example, if you are covering a lawn area that is 10,000 square feet in size (give or take 1,000 square feet), and it says on the bag of fertilizer that it 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 2 or 3. If the setting numbers go from 1 to 20, set on 4 or 6. If fertilizer won't come out go up a notch or two.
To get even distribution of fertilizer over your lawn, walk to one corner of the lawn area you will fertilize and begin applying fertilizer over the lawn going back and forth 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.
When you have completed the 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 (north to south) that cross over your first set of rows at a right angle.
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