Broadcast spreaders are made for spreading fertilizers that are formed into small, evenly shaped pieces including lawn food or pelleted chicken manure. They are not great for spreading compost because there are often pieces that are too large to fit through and will clog up the spreader.
You can put compost through a broadcast spreader if it has been sieved. This is time consuming so unless you buy it already sieved and in small pieces then it is best to use another method to spread your compost.
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To spread compost over a large area you want to look out for a compost spreader. These are large cylinders that can be rolled over lawns and will spread small amounts of compost across the area. These work to capture the large pieces of compost in the cylinder so they can be returned to your compost bin to break down further.
This article will explore what you can put in a broadcast spreader and XX great ways to spread compost on your lawn or garden beds.
What can be put in a broadcast spreader
Depending on the size and type of broadcast spreader you can use them for a range of fertilizers, seeds and sand application. Check the individual spreader and you can see what is safe to put through the system.
1. Commercial lawn fertilizer
Commercial lawn fertilizer is the most common thing that you would use a handheld or push broadcast spreader for. These are perfect for applying an even amount of fertilizer across your lawn. Spreading fertilizer by hand can mean that it is not spread out across the area evenly.
Use a small handheld spreader for small to medium sized lawns. You can upgrade to a push spreader if you have a large area to cover.
2. Pelleted chicken manure
Pelleted chicken manure can be spread using a broadcast spreader. Check the type of spreader you have before putting the chicken manure pelleted in but most are able to handle these small pieces. You may find that you have some leftover fertilizer dust in the bottom which can be tipped out into your compost bin or garden beds.
Pelleted chicken manure is my favorite slow released outdoor fertilizer because it is great for all plants, organic and can be used on lawns.
Larger broadcast spreaders are great for top dressing lawns with a coarse sand layer. After coring lawns, coarse sand can be spread across the top to fill the holes. This is a great way to refresh and aerate your lawn. You can use small or large spreaders to spread the sand evenly, but always check your spreader’s instructions before adding sand.
Push broadcast spreaders are great for spreading seed over a large area. Lawn seed or other crops can be spread over a well prepared area using a broadcast spreader.
How to spread compost on a lawn
While broadcast spreaders are not the best choice for spreading compost, there are some other easy ways to add a top dressing on your lawn or garden beds. Most compost, particularly homemade compost will contain small and large pieces that need a different method to spread it evenly.
1. Use a compost wheel
A great way to spread compost across a large area of lawn is to use a compost wheel. You can put the compost in the end and roll the wheel across your lawn. The larger pieces of compost will stay trapped in the wheel and can be returned to your compost bin to break down further.
You can also add some aged cow manure and chicken manure pellets to give your lawn a feed as you go. This top dressing can be watered in to stop it blowing away and the nutrients and organic matter will wash down to the lawn roots.
2. Use a rake and shovel
The easiest and cheapest way to spread compost across your yard is to use a shovel and rake. Dig shovels of compost and throw it horizontally across your lawn to spread it out. You can then rake the compost evenly across the top. I find that a plastic rake works best for this because a metal rake can get stuck.
3. Use a mulch shovel
A mulch shovel is another great way to spread compost. Mulch shovels are large and light and can carry more compost at a time. I like to put the compost or cow manure on the shovel and gently sprinkle it across the lawn as I walk.
4. Turn it into liquid fertilizer
Another easy way to spread compost across your yard and your lawn is to turn it into liquid fertilizer. Fill a bucket with water and add 1 spade full of compost into the water. Stir it with a stick and pour the bucket of water on the root zone of your plants or over your lawn.
You can add a dash of seaweed solution if you have it too to help with root growth. If you want to put this mix through your watering can you will need to remove the rose from the end so the pieces do not get stuck.
When to top dress lawn with compost
It is best to top dress your lawn with compost in spring to get it ready for good growth over spring and summer. You can take a garden fork and aerate your lawn if you have a small area by gently pressing the fork into the lawn 3-4 inches and making holes. This will help the compost to get down into the soil and reach the lawn roots.
Boost your top dressing by mixing through up to ¼ aged cow manure with the compost. This will help to add extra nutrients to the mix and feed the lawn over summer.
Spread a thin layer of the compost and cow manure mix over the lawn, making sure that you can still see blades of grass poking through.
Water the lawn thoroughly to wash the compost in and stop it from blowing away.
Broadcast Spreaders for Compost | Summary
Commercial broadcast spreaders designed for fertilizer are not great for spreading compost. The large compost pieces can get stuck in the spreader and it will stop working. For large areas of lawn look out for large, cylinder compost spreaders. For small lawns, spread compost with a shovel and rake it over your lawn evenly.