Spreaders come in two main varieties: broadcast spreaders and drop spreaders. So, which one should you use, or should you use both? How to Restore a Lawn Full of Weeds If your lawn is patchy and full of weeds, it will never be the envy of the neighborhood. What you’re after is a lush, green lawn with even grass and no – Preen
Broadcast vs. Drop Spreaders
It should be noted that a broadcast spreader spreads granular product or grass seed at the rate you walk at. If you walk slow, it will broadcast your product slower whereas if you walk fast, it will broadcast your product more quickly. Take a look at a few broadcast spreaders below.
What is a Drop Spreader?
Drop spreaders are slightly different from broadcast spreaders as they also do what their name implies—they drop the product. In fact, they drop it down between the wheels of the spreader in the amount set on the settings dial based on walking speed. Drop spreaders are particularly valuable when you must be precise in the product’s release, whereas a broadcast spreader’s main function is to efficiently broadcast in all directions. Drop spreaders will also make sure you don’t waste any product as you’re spreading. Unlike broadcast spreaders, drop spreaders will drop granular product at the same rate regardless of how fast or slow you walk.
One example of the ideal use for a drop spreader would be around sidewalks and driveways. Granular fertilizers stain pavement. Using a broadcast spreader on grass around the driveway is still going to throw granules off the lawn and onto the driveway surface. With a drop spreader, you can walk along the side of the driveway and make sure that you aren’t wasting a staining product on your driveway while also making sure the edge of the grass gets its appropriate amount of nourishment.
A drawback of a drop spreader is that, because the product being distributed doesn’t leave any mark or line, it’s difficult to make sure spots in the lawn weren’t missed. A broadcast spreader will take extra care to make sure different parts of the lawn receive an even coverage. A drop spreader, as previously mentioned, is more precise because it doesn’t broadcast the granular product or seed and doesn’t change the amount spread based on a changing walking pace. If a drop spreader seems more fitting for your lawn and garden needs, take a look at a few of them below.
A broadcast spreader and a drop spreader are great pieces of equipment to have in your garage or storage shed for different purposes. Each is a granular spreader that serves to be more beneficial depending on the project at hand. With that being said, our recommendation would be in a typical setting to have both options if possible. Use the broadcast spreader to cover most of your lawn and then follow up with the drop spreader around sidewalks, driveways, flower beds and other areas where precision is important.
Spreaders are products that will usually provide owners many years of use and are a good investment. If you must choose only one, a broadcast spreader should be the first choice and then implement measures around those difficult areas like putting up cardboard boxes as you walk to keep granules off those unwanted areas. Broadcast spreaders are used for more reasons and are a little more versatile. With either piece of equipment, be sure to set the spreader at the proper distribution rate as specified on the back of your fertilizer, control product or grass seed bag so that you put the exact amount required on your lawn.
How to Restore a Lawn Full of Weeds
If your lawn is patchy and full of weeds, it will never be the envy of the neighborhood. What you’re after is a lush, green lawn with even grass and no dandelions poking their way through. That may sound hard to achieve, but it isn’t too difficult if you follow these steps.
If you only have a few pesky weeds punctuating your lawn, you may be able to dig them up by hand—paying careful attention to make sure you get them roots and all. But if your lawn is overrun with weeds, you may need to start from scratch. Here’s our how-to guide on restoring a lawn full of weeds.
Once your lawn is nice and green, we recommend hiring a professional lawn care company to help you maintain it to keep it weed-free. Our top recommendation goes to industry leader TruGreen.
Restoring a Lawn Full of Weeds in 10 Steps
Step 1: Identify the Weeds You Have
In order to make a successful game plan, you’ll need to know just what kind of weeds you’re dealing with. Weed treatments are designed to target specific weeds, so what may work on your broadleaf weeds may leave your grass-like weeds A-OK.
Weeds come in multiple categories, either broadleaf, grass-like, or grassy.
- Appearance: Broad, flat leaves
- Common types: Clover, ground ivy, dandelions, chickweed
- Appearance: Similar to grass, with hollow leaves in a triangular or tube shape
- Common types: Nutsedge, wild garlic, wild onion
- Appearance: Resembles grass, grows one leaf at a time
- Common types: Foxtail, annual bluegrass, quackgrass, crabgrass
Weeds can be broken down further into categories based on their life cycle—annual, biennial, or perennial.
- Annual: Produces seeds during one season only
- Biennial: Produces seeds during two back-to-back seasons
- Perennial: Produces seeds over many seasons
Step 2: Select a Proper Herbicide
Next, it’s time to select the proper weed treatment based on both weed classification and the stage in their life cycle. Pre-emergent herbicides tackle weed issues before they spring up. Post-emergent herbicides target established weeds.
Keep in mind that herbicides can kill whatever plant life they come into contact with—even if the label says otherwise—so handle with care. If your aim is to re-establish your lawn, as we recommend, killing your existing, thinning grass isn’t a big deal, since you will need to start fresh anyway.
Step 3: Apply the Treatment
For this step, it’s crucial that you follow the directions to the letter. Make sure you apply the proper product at the proper time. It’s a good idea to check out the forecast beforehand, since you don’t want any storms to wash away your herbicide.
*First application. See quote for terms and conditions.
Step 4: Wait It Out
How soon you can plant seed depends on the type of weed treatment you choose. Pre-emergent herbicides will prevent grass seeds from growing just as much as weed seeds, so it would be no good to sow seeds immediately after.
Depending on the type of weed treatment you choose, you may need to wait for up to four weeks. You can ask your local garden center for information about when it’s safe to plant.
Step 5: Rake and Till
Once the weeds—and grass, if applicable—turn brown, it’s time to bust out your rake. Rake up as much of the weeds as you can. Use your tilling fork to pull any extra weeds out and till the soil to prepare it for your amendments and seed.
Step 6: Dethatch and Aerate
Aerating your lawn can help break up thatch, the layer of decomposing organic matter between your lawn’s soil and grass blades. Thatch can be beneficial, since it can make your lawn more resilient and provide insulation from extreme temperatures and changes in soil moisture. But if it gets over a half-inch in thickness, it can cause root damage, including root rot.
Your raking and tilling from the previous step can help with dethatching, but you can also use a dethatching rake if the layer is too excessive.
Aeration improves your grassroots’ access to air, nutrients, and water. Use a spike or core aerator to break up the soil. If you use a core aerator, be sure to make two to three passes in different directions. Allow the plugs of soil you remove to decompose on top of your soil layer rather than remove them.
Step 7: Amend the Soil
Now, you can apply your soil amendment to ready your soil for the grass seed or sod.
Step 8: Lay Down Seed or Sod
You have a choice ahead of you. Do you want to lay down seed or sod? There are pros and cons to each.
- Pros: Less expensive, more variety
- Cons: Takes longer to germinate, can only lay at certain times of year depending on grass type
- Pros: Instant grass, can lay any time of year, requires little maintenance
- Cons: More costly, less variety in grass can mean less healthy lawn overall
To prepare the soil after either method, make sure you till it down to roughly 6 to 8 inches.
First, you need to choose the right type of seed for your lawn. That will depend on the region you live in—one that needs cool-season grasses, warm-season grasses, or a transition zone that allows more flexibility. After you determine which category you need, you can select specific grasses that may have attributes you’re after, like heat- or drought-resistance.
To seed your lawn, lay down approximately 1 inch of topsoil, then use a spreader to apply the seed to the soil.
We recommend using two different types of spreaders. For the majority of the work, you should use a broadcast spreader because they distribute seed evenly, allowing for thorough coverage. But you’ll want to use a drop spreader around the edges of garden beds to make sure you don’t inadvertently drop seed into them.
Always set the spreader to half the recommended drop rate and spread the seed in one direction, then one or two more in different directions to make sure the coverage is nice and even. You don’t want your lawn to have weird patterns or stripes.
Applying the right amount of seed is key. As a general rule of thumb, apply roughly 15 seeds per each square inch, then rake over the seed.
Top the seed with top dressing no greater than ¼ inch thick.
Then, it’s time to add starter fertilizer. Your best bet is to use a starter fertilizer high in phosphorus. However, due to concerns about water pollution, many states prohibit the use of phosphorus in fertilizers. Some states may allow phosphorus in fertilizers for establishing new lawns. If so, you’ll find fertilizers labeled “new lawn” or “starter fertilizer.”
Step 9: Water Your Lawn
Deep, infrequent watering can help establish your lawn by allowing it to grow deep roots, which can compete against weeds. Try to water your lawn about twice a week, in the morning before the heat of the day sets in. Lawns typically need about 1.5 inches of water per week, but that could vary based on the climate you live in and the type of grass seed you chose.
Step 10: Maintain Your Lawn
Proper maintenance is critical if you want your newly established lawn to stay weed-free. Mow at either the highest or second-highest setting. Vigorous grass won’t be choked out by weeds. Fertilize your lawn as needed to help it thrive.
Weed Seed Spreader
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Lawn Spreader Settings
Use our convenient search tool to get a spreader setting for our lawn product and your lawn spreader.
To determine the setting to use for your spreader see the generic spreader settings chart below.
Generic Settings Rotary / Broadcast Spreaders
Application Rate / Spreader Setting
3lbs / 1,000 sq. ft
4lbs / 1,000 sq. ft.
5lbs / 1,000 sq. ft.
Generic Settings Drop Spreaders
Application Rate / Spreader Settings
3lbs / 1,000 sq. ft.
4lbs / 1,000 sq. ft.
5lbs / 1,000 sq. ft.
If you require additional assistance, our customer service representatives will be happy to assist you. Please call 1-800-233-1067 during normal business hours. Please have the Preen product name, your spreader make and model, your spreaders’ dial range, and type (ie:drop or rotary/broadcast) available for faster assistance.