Hand Spreader Tips: Fertilizer, Seed & Salt Spreading (+ Videos)

As you would imagine, a hand spreader is an invaluable tool for spreading fertilizer, seed and salt. But, why consider a hand held spreader, as opposed to a larger broadcast spreader?

Let’s take you through the pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision on the best hand spreader for your needs.

Two cartoon both using a Cresco 5, one is spreading ice melt and the other spreading fertilizer

Is A Universal Handheld Spreader Possible?

Being able to combine both summer and winter use for a hand spreader is helpful. As with many tasks around the house and backyard, tools need to work hard for you. After all, you want to get your money’s worth.

Outside tasks such as spreading fertilizer and seed in the summer, or salt spreading in winter are best undertaken using a specific tool designed to do the job. A spreader gives you a greater amount of control, and of course, far less mess! Calculated to deliver the correct amount of fertilizer or salt at any given time, you will find them indispensable.

Hand Spreader V Broadcast Spreader

Undecided as to your needs? Let’s take a look at the key elements:

Handheld Spreader

An operator holding a Cresco 1 hand operated spreader

Because of the very nature of being handheld, these spreaders are great at operating in small spaces over rough or uneven ground. They are easy to maneuver and use, and simple to store.

The Cresco 1 handheld spreader spreads fertilizer and seed in summer and salt or ice melt in winter. Cutting down on mess and spills, the hopper scoops directly from the fertilizer or salt bag. Making it invaluable when the need arises, the Cresco 1 handheld spreader quickly and easily spreads fine salt around office entrances and pathways to maintain safety.

A hand held spreader can also include a shoulder mounted spreader, which as you would expect, is supported with a strap across the shoulder. It rests on your hip to give you good control and mobility.

The Cresco 5 shoulder mounted spreader comes with a simple on-off mechanism with easy to lock in settings. Together with a large capacity bag this hand spreader is built for smooth running and longevity.

Broadcast Spreader

A broadcast spreader is a larger piece of equipment, designed to cover much greater areas. It is best used on open stretches of lawn or land, as it doesn’t have the agility of the hand spreader.

Ideally, you would use both types of spreader for slightly different work around your backyard. Paths and tight spots are best served by the hand spreader; the broadcast spreader for larger stretches of lawn and driveways.

What to Look Out for When Buying a Hand Spreader

  • Ergonomic handle and inbuilt arm rest – a must when operating a handheld spreader
  • Lightweight, yet strong construction
  • Robust nylon bag and zip on a shoulder spreader – poor quality fabric results in rips to the bag and zips not working
  • Different sized aperture settings – allows for a variety of fertilizer, seed or salt granules to pass through
  • Simple, easy to use handles to operate mechanism – is it up to the work you want to do?
  • Durability and smoothness of operation to gearbox – able to provide you years of application

How to Use a Shoulder Bag Seed Spreader

The best way to use a shoulder bag seed spreader is as follows:

  • Fill the shoulder bag with seed and close using the zip
  • Place the strap over your left shoulder
  • Rest the shoulder bag on your left hip
  • Pull up the application lever with your left hand to open up the application hole inside the shoulder bag
  • Turn the handle to activate the impeller, making it spin
  • The anti clockwise spinning disk will distribute the seed out to your left
  • Walk at a steady pace turning the handle

How to Fertilize Lawn with a Hand Spreader

  • Adjust the aperture setting on the handle
  • Fill the hopper with fertilizer straight from the fertilizer bag
  • Place your hand through the arm rest and grip the handle
  • Press the trigger to open the aperture
  • Begin walking at a steady pace
  • Point hand spreader to where you want fertilizer spread
  • Turn the handle on the right hand side of the hopper to distribute fertilizer

Can You Use a Fertilizer Spreader for Salt?

Well, that depends. In theory, the answer is yes. However, in practice it very much relies upon the quality of your hand spreader.

If you invest in a good quality, robust hand spreader (similar to the Cresco 1 or 5) with the ability to change aperture sizes, you should be able to spread a range of differing materials through the equipment. Make sure when you are buying your tool, you’ve got options.

How to Use a Hand Spreader for Maximum Coverage of Fertilizer, Seed or Salt

An operator holding a Cresco 5 shoulder mounted spreader

On the face of it, it would seem to be a simple choice. After all, how difficult can it be to use a hand spreader? Nonetheless, as we have seen, there are factors to take into account.

  • Remember to check how comfortable it will be to use a hand spreader for the job you have in mind – a choice of a shoulder bag spreader may be a better fit, rather than a handheld one.
  • Are you able to change the size of the hole, so that different sized materials can be used? This is most important if you are looking to use your summer seed spreader for salt in the winter months.
  • What terrain are you going to be using your spreader on? Small, tight spots, or rough ground are perfect for handheld spreaders. Also paths, driveways or car parks may benefit from a smaller, more agile spreader.


With these tips and suggestions for getting the best out of your hand spreader, you’ll be able to look forward to years of service from your backyard tools. And, come sunshine or snow your lawns and pathways will be in tiptop condition.

Share on:
Other Products
Cresco 25

Cresco 25

Cresco 30SWS

Cresco 5

We'll Get Back to You Immediately

Contact Us

Play Video
Play Video