A good quality broadcast spreader can form a crucial part of your yard care arsenal.
From reseeding areas of lawn, to top-dressing with fertilizer and even spreading ice melt on your drive in cold weather there’s no denying how handy a broadcast spreader can be.
On the other hand, of all the more common pieces of garden machinery it is spreaders that seem to divide so many people. Sadly, many broadcast spreaders are flimsily built and barely survive even occasional light use.
To prevent throwing your money away, therefore, it’s crucial to do your research and select the right model from the get-go.
Fortunately, that’s exactly what we’ll be discussing in this guide. We’ll review some of the most popular broadcast spreaders on the market (and trust me – even some of the better-known brands have some shocking models in their range) to help you select the best broadcast spreader for your needs.
Best Towing Broadcast Spreaders Reviewed
Brinly BS36BH Tow Behind Broadcast Spreader
Here’s a serious piece of kit for your garden! This sizeable broadcast spreader measures in at 30 x 22 x 26 inches and 47 pounds in weight, which just goes to demonstrate how solidly-built it is. This is more than double what the lightweight Scotts 75902 discussed later weighs.
In terms of practicality there are fewer better options for those of us with a large yard or lawn. For one thing, the Brinly BS36BH tow behind broadcast spreader offers an incredible 175lb spreading capacity which, depending on the material you’re spreading, can allow you to do up to an acre of work before it needs to be refilled.
Like all the best broadcast spreaders the Brinly BS36BH also benefits from an enclosed, metal gearing system. Such is the quality of this machine that Brinly proudly offer a two year warranty on every aspect of this spreader, helping to give you peace of mind that you’re buying something you can rely on.
Lastly, in terms of towing this particular tow-behind broadcast spreader uses a universal hitch, so that it can be dragged by almost any garden tractor or riding mower.
If you’re looking for the best tow behind broadcast spreader then this is it.
Our Rating: (5 / 5)
Agri-Fab Broadcast Spreader Tow
Agri-Fab are known for their machinery intended for small farms, so they have a long history of producing solid, reliable equipment capable of ongoing, demanding work. This spreader is no different, offering an incredible spreading width of us to ten feet.
Just like the other top quality broadcast spreaders this model offers large, pneumatic tires and an fully-enclosed metal gearbox. Measuring in at 33 x 22 x 25 inches this spreader features a universal hitch designed to fit almost any powered garden equipment, from garden tractors to their full-size cousins.
With an 85 lb load capacity this is another solid option for the gardener or farmer looking for a serious, reliable spreader.
If there is a weakness, it is that some owners have complained that it isn’t easy to get the spreading volume right because the controls are so coarse. For some people, this has meant they ended up dumping a far larger load than expected, which can lead to more regular refills or the chance of over-fertilizing land. For this reason we rate it as 4.5/5.
Our Rating: (4.5 / 5)
Earthway 2050TP Estate
The Earthway 2050TP broadcast spreader, with its 80lbs hopper, may not be quite as impressive as some other towing spreaders but this is still a reasonable piece of machinery.
Big, 10” pneumatic tyres make it easy to maneuver around, while the patented “Ev-N-Spred” system is designed to guarantee even spreading no matter what the particle size. It is also a reasonable size, measuring in at 24.5 x 20.8 x 18.5 inches.
Sadly, all is not quite so positive. For one thing, this is a very lightweight spreader; who ever heard of a towing broadcast spreader that weighs just 15.3lbs? This gives you some idea of the lightweight build of this spreader, which is sadly also coupled with a flimsy towing bar. Combined, this makes for a spreader which, if comments on discussion forums are to be believed, tips over far too easily even during very modest work.
In conclusion, while this isn’t the worst broadcast spreader in the world, it most certainly isn’t the best either.
Our Rating: (3.5 / 5)
Best Walk-Behind Broadcast Spreaders Reviewed
Spyker P40-5020 Pro Series
Spyker is a solid brand when it comes to broadcast spreaders, sitting in the top half of the market when it comes to both quality and pricing. As mentioned earlier, however, in the broadcast spreader world you tend to get what you pay for. Under these circumstances sometimes paying a little more should be considered a reassurance that you’ll still be using your spreader years into the future with the absolute minimum of maintenance.
While some minor assembly of this broadcast spreader is required on delivery, within just a few minutes of work you’ll find yourself with a very solid spreader indeed. The Spyker P40-5020 weighs in at 41 pounds unfilled, and has dimensions of 30 x 29 x 23 inches. With large, inflatable tyres it is easy to move around, even on rough or steeply angled ground.
Of particular importance, however, the Spyker P40-5020 is one of the few broadcast spreaders to benefit from enclosed metal gears that should last for years. Even better, Spyker are so confident about the reliability of their gearing system that they offer a lifetime warranty on this model. WIth a 50lb spreading capacity this really is a great quality piece of kit, and receives an impressive 5/5 stars from us.
Our Rating: (5 / 5)
Lesco 50lb Push Spreader
Lesco has been described as “the Rolls-Royce of broadcast spreaders”. It’s not difficult to see why.
When so many other manufacturers are cutting corners or outsourcing manufacturing to the distant corners of the globe, Lesco is doing everything it can to produce the best quality yard equipment on the market. While you’ll pay for that pedigree, for anyone looking for the most reliable walk-behind broadcast spreader on the market then you’ve just found it.
You shouldn’t be surprised that the Lesco spreader is a heavy duty, solidly-built piece of kit. Like the Spyker P40-5020 some modest assembly is required on delivery, but soon enough you’ll be benefitting from those enormous inflatable tyres and the 50 lb hopper.
From what we’ve seen this serious broadcast spreader can handle anything thrown at it, from fine powders through to ice melt and more. If you’ve found yourself getting frustrated with low-cost spreaders and are looking for something you can rely on then this is the broadcast spreader of your dreams.
Our Rating: (5 / 5)
Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard Mini Broadcast Spreader
Scotts may be a well-known name in the lawn care marketplace, but sadly many of their spreaders seem to be built with one thing in mind: cost.
As you’ll see when we discuss a few other models shortly, sadly the internet seems to be awash with people complaining about how unreliable Scotts spreaders are in general. Fortunately the Turf Builder Mini Spreader seems like a rather different beast, and has developed a passionate group of followers.
Unlike the broadcast spreaders discussed so far it’s crucial to note the “mini” in the product name. This isn’t a big piece of equipment in any way, meaning that it is unlikely to be suitable for larger gardens or heavy work. For smaller jobs, however, such as de-icing frozen paths or adding fertilizer to a small lawn then this is quite a handy dandy little spreader.
Indeed, at the time of writing the Scotts Turf Builder Mini was actually the #1 best selling de-icer and salter on Amazon, which just goes to show how popular this model really is.
Unlike the previous models this broadcast spreader has solid wheels, making it less suitable for use on rough ground. On the upside it weighs in at a tiny 3.8lbs in weight, and measures just 16 x 20 x 45.2 inches so it is perfect for the less able-bodied gardener, or people with minimal storage space available.
At the same time, despite its small stature, owners of this broadcast spreader suggest that the hopper can can up to 40lbs of fertilizer, allowing for an impressive amount of spreading between refills. Lastly, as a Scotts spreader it offers their unique EdgeGuard feature to prevent spraying on more sensitive areas of your garden.
Our Rating: (4.5 / 5)
Scotts Pro EdgeGuard Broadcast Spreader
On the surface the Scotts Pro broadcast spreader seems like quite a nicely built piece of equipment. It has a deliberately narrow wheel base in order to make it easy to get into tight corners or to fertilize more precisely. It has the EdgeGuard feature which prevents it from spreading on one side (if you so desire).
It weighs a comfortable 12.85 lbs and measures in at 19.2 x 22.8 x 46.5 inches. Combined with a easy dial for adjusting the spreading rate you’d think that this was quite a nice piece of kit. But you’d be mistaken.
Unfortunately it seems that in order to cut costs Scotts have opted to use a plastic gearing system on this spreader, which has severely impacted the overall quality of the product. Look around and you’ll find dozens of people complaining about their Scotts broadcaster, claiming the gears slip or break after even light use, rendering their spreader useless.
Based on current feedback then you would do well to pass this opportunity by and instead select one of the much better spreaders already discussed in this guide.
Our Rating: (3.5 / 5)
Scotts 75902 Elite Broadcast Spreader
Scotts claim on the packaging of this broadcast spreader that it is their “most accurate spreader ever”. That may be the case, but the overall look and feel of this model is cheap and flimsy. While it may cope with some lighter jobs, overall this is a lightweight (if cheap) option that seems to struggle to do serious work. For example, owners report that it does a pretty poor job with ice melt.
Specification-wise this broadcast spreader weighs 19.75lbs and measures in at 23.63 x 23.31 x 20.07 in. All in all, however, this spreader has to rank as ? because, whilst not a terrible broadcast spreader, there are so many better options available on the market.
Our Rating: (3 / 5)
Features to Look for in the Best Broadcast Spreaders
On the surface of things most broadcast spreaders look very similar indeed. As a result, trying to separate the wheat from the chaff isn’t always easy for the untrained eye. Spend some time doing your research, however, and you’ll find a number of crucial differences.
If you’re trying to decide what the best broadcast spreader is, here’s a list of the features you should keep an eye out for…
Walk-Behind Broadcast Spreaders Vs Towing Spreaders
Most broadcast spreaders fall into one of two different categories. Firstly, there are those spreaders which one pushes along like an average lawn mower. Alternatively there are those that are towed behind a garden tractor or riding mower. Both have their individual strengths and weaknesses, so you’ll need to think about your own unique circumstances to make a decision.
Walk-Behind Broadcast Spreaders – Generally require you to be reasonably fit and able-bodied, as you’ll be lugging around a reasonably heavy contraption, especially when the hopper is full. They can also be quite impractical for very large gardens, when a manual spreader would take all day to use. On the other hand, walk-behind broadcast spreaders tend to be cheaper to buy, and afford a greater level of precision during use.
Towing Spreaders – Can be handy if you already own a garden tractor that will tow it. Towing broadcast spreaders allow you to cover far larger areas in a shorter space, which is much more efficient for larger gardens or regular applications. As such spreaders don’t need to be manually pushed around they also typically benefit from a much larger hopper, which means fewer refills are necessary to complete the job.
All standard broadcast spreaders use a gear system which is attached to the wheel axle. As the wheels turn, the gears transfer power up into the hopper, controlling the spreading rate. While a necessary part of broadcast spreaders, the gearing system is one of the most common points of failure.
Cheaper, less well-built models typically use plastic gears. These are particularly prone to faults or damage, and so may shorten the lifespan of your broadcast spreader.
At the other end of the market you will find some better-built spreaders that use a metal gearing system. While these models can cost slightly more, it is often a worthwhile investment, as the lifespan of your spreader is likely to be considerably greater.
There is a huge diversity in build quality when it comes to broadcast spreaders. Many are made cheaply with the intention of snaring the budget-conscious homeowner. At the other end there are premium models which are built far more sturdily.
Except for very occasional light use it is generally best to avoid the bottom end of the market as so many people have problems with cheaper spreaders. Instead, it is generally a better idea to start your search with the mid-range models and to even consider the top-end spreaders, where you’ll benefit from the much higher build quality and therefore product lifetime.
While the hopper size of a broadcast spreader doesn’t necessarily sound like the most exciting feature to consider, it can make spreading lawn seed, fertilizer, lime and suchlike either a pleasurable chore or never-ending torture.
Generally speaking you’ll want the biggest hopper you can afford (and store) so that it only needs the occasional refill. Constantly stopping work to refill the hopper soon gets tiring, and places your back under unnecessary pressure.
One of the most difficult elements to gauge when it comes to broadcast spreaders is how reliable they are at actually spreading. You’d probably assume – quite reasonably indeed – that all broadcast spreaders should, by definition, spread quite well. Sadly, that isn’t the case.
For example, some spreaders seem unable to handle finer substances like diatomaceous earth, while others will struggle with ice melt or salt in winter. Consequently you are strongly advised to read reviews from people who actually own them (Amazon is a great place to start) so you can feel confident that your spreader is capable of doing the work expected of it.
EdgeGuard is a patented technology from Scotts, one of the best-known names in the broadcast spreader world. As the name suggests, rather than spreading over a 180’ angle like most spreaders, EdgeGuard allows you to direct the broadcasting in a specific direction. If you’re spreading something like lawn fertilizer or moss killer, which can stain cement or paving, it ensures that the granules stay exactly where you want them and avoid more sensitive areas of your yard.