Drop Spreader Vs. Broadcast Spreader – Key Differences

Spreaders are essential equipment in your tool kit as a lawn keeper. They help apply grass seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides in granular form. Drop and broadcast spreaders are the main types of spreaders. These two resemble each other and picking the better one can be intimidating, especially if you are a new lawn keeper. But is drop and broadcast spreader the same?

Drop and broadcast spreader differs in their mode of operation. While a drop spreader drops granules in one direction over a small area, a broadcast spreader applies granules in multiple directions over a large area.

Here are the key differences between a drop and a broadcast spreader. We’ll also help you choose the ideal one, depending on your circumstance.

Drop spreader vs. broadcast spreader - Differences

What is a drop spreader?

From the name, a drop spreader distributes its granular content by ‘dropping’ it on the ground directly below it.

There are two types of drop spreaders; push and tow-behind spreaders.

A push-spreader operates like a wheelbarrow or a cart. You fill seeds or granules onto the hopper and push the tool along the lawn. With the latter, you attach it to a tractor or lawn mower while the tool drops the products as you ride. Both types have settings for the amount of product to dispense at a constant rate. 

Drop spreaders have a high precision and uniformity level because they drop the product right where you want it. They are convenient for small lawn areas below 5000 square feet. 

Here are the advantages of drop spreaders:

  • They are accurate– Drop spreaders drop granules exactly where you want, making them suitable for use near sidewalks, driveways, and flower beds. 
  • They don’t waste products– Since drop spreaders are accurate, they ensure you spread seeds in wanted places only, conserving them for maximum use.
  • They are ideal for small areas– Drop spreaders are the best bet for small lawns as they are quick and efficient.
  • They are convenient in windy areas– Winds don’t affect drop spreaders because they drop products closer to the ground. Compared to broadcast spreaders, drop spreaders are better for windy locations.

Drop spreaders have a few cons you may want to know. Here they are:

  • Bad for large areas– Drop spreaders are suitable for lawns below 5000 square feet but not ideal for yards larger than 10000 square feet. The preference is because of their small coverage and less efficiency.
  • They are tedious and time-consuming– Using drop spreaders consumes much time and effort due to their small coverage per pass. Small drop spreaders have tiny hoppers, often needing refilling, too.
  • Cannot be used inaccessible areas– Drop spreaders are limited to plain lawn areas and not difficult-to-reach land topographies. 

What is a broadcast spreader?

A broadcast spreader is a tool that applies granules by broadcasting them over a larger area in multiple directions.

Similar to drop spreaders, there are two types of broadcast spreaders; push and tow-behind

Both types have a setting to control the number of granules released. However, the rate depends on how fast you walk or ride. The tool applies the products in a fan-like pattern through the sides, front, and bottom parts. A broadcast spreader is convenient when you want maximum coverage on a lawn larger than 10000 square feet.  

Here are its advantages:

  • Fast and efficient– Broadcast spreaders apply products over a large area while taking less time and effort to finish the task.
  • They are suitable for inaccessible areas– Since broadcast spreaders apply product swaths in multiple directions, they are convenient when seeding difficult-to-access land topographies.
  • Less tedious– Because a broadcast spreader covers a large area quickly, operating it requires less effort.

Here are the disadvantages of a broadcast spreader

  • Not good for windy areas– A broadcast spreader isn’t ideal for windy days. This is because it throws granules in different directions, which the wind can easily carry away.
  • Less accurate– Broadcast spreaders may not provide the accuracy needed since accuracy depends on walking or driving pace, which is difficult to maintain. 
  • You may need extra time to wash off products that fall in undesired places– A broadcast spreader releases products in all directions, landing them in nearby driveways or sidewalks. Using the tool near such sites requires extra time to clean the overflows.

Drop spreader vs. broadcast spreader – differences

Here are the key features that differentiate a drop spreader from a broadcast spreader.

Drop spreader vs. broadcast spreader - Differences

Mode of operation

A drop spreader releases granules by dropping them, while a  broadcast spreader applies products by broadcasting them.

A drop spreader has a hopper with a row of holes at the bottom to allow seeds to pass to the ground. When pushing or driving the tool, it releases the granules by dropping them between its two wheels in one direction using gravity force. 

On the other hand, a broadcast spreader has a  flywheel with a groove plate that releases seeds in a fan-like pattern in multiple directions.  


A drop spreader applies seeds precisely, while a broadcast spreader releases granules without accuracy.

A drop spreader drops granules exactly where you want them in a single direction. You can use this tool to apply granules in specific areas without worrying about them spreading to undesired places. 

Meanwhile, a broadcast spreader doesn’t apply granules precisely. The tools swathe seeds in all directions for maximum coverage and not accuracy. 


A drop spreader is less efficient, while a broadcast spreader is highly efficient.

A drop spreader lags in the way it operates. It doesn’t provide maximum coverage. Thus,  you will need more passes to ensure full coverage, taking more time and effort to complete a task. 

Meanwhile,  a broadcast spreader is highly efficient since it has maximum coverage, taking less time and effort to finish a task.


A drop spreader has small coverage, while a broadcast spreader has wide coverage.

A drop spreader applies granules in a single line just between its two wheels, covering a small area per pass. 

On the other hand, a broadcast spreader applies granules in multiple directions, covering a larger area in a single pass. 

When to use a drop spreader

Here are the circumstances when a drop spreader is convenient for use.

1. When the lawn is small: A drop spreader will best work if you want to spread grass seeds, fertilizer, or herbicide granules over a small lawn area. 

2. When seeding near sidewalks, driveways, or flower beds: A drop spreader would be ideal when spreading granules near driveways, flower beds, and sidewalks since it applies them exactly where you want them to, without spreading to nearby, undesired places.

3. When you have sufficient time at hand: A drop spreader would be a good fit if you have more time to spread your granular product. This tool usually has small coverage taking more time to finish a task.

4. When you want precise coverage: A drop spreader is the best tool if you prefer accurate coverage since it would drop the granules exactly where you want them.

When to use a broadcast spreader

Here are the circumstances where using a broadcast spreader would be appropriate.

1. When the lawn is large: A broadcast spreader is ideal for spreading granules over a large lawn area above 10,000 sq ft because of its ability to throw seeds in multiple directions, providing maximum coverage per pass.

2. When your land has difficult-to-reach parts: A broadcast spreader would be suitable if your yard has many difficult-to-access areas since the tool throws granules across a vast distance in all directions.

3. When you want maximum coverage: A broadcast spreader is the best tool to apply seeds to cover your lawn areas without caring about precision.

4. When you want to spend less time and effort: Due to its high efficiency, a broadcast spreader is ideal when you want to use less time and effort to complete the task.

Can you spread grass seed with a drop spreader?

A drop spreader is a great tool for spreading grass seeds when overseeding or reseeding your lawn. With this equipment, you are sure to apply your granules exactly where you want them uniformly and without wasting them. 

You only need to set the number of seeds and rate, push the equipment, tie it to your tractor, and drive it over the lawn. 


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