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How To Apply Granular Fertilizer

by Allyn Hane 22 Apr 2024

In this article, I’m going to take you step-by-step on how to apply Yard Mastery fertilizers and know that your spreader setting is correct. I have a detailed video that you should also watch you can find that here: How to Apply Fertilizer

In this example, I will be utilizing 24-0-6 Flagship but you can use this very same approach to calibrate your spreader for any of the Yard Mastery fertilizers. They all are applied at the same rate and use the same spreader settings.

So the first thing to do is look on the bag of your chosen fertilizer and find the suggested setting for your spreader. In this example, I am using the Yard Mastery spreader, the same as the Earthway 2600A-Plus.

The setting on the bag of 24-0-6 Flagship is 14.

At this point, many people will set the spreader up, dump the entire bag in, and go to town. And you know what? In many cases, they do just fine.

But what if you ended up coming up short? What if you did that same thing, dumped it all in, set the spreader, and went out to spread and ended up only getting half of the lawn done? What then?

How To Calibrate Your Fertilizer Spreader

This is why it’s a good idea to test your spreader and calibrate it BEFORE you let it fly! I know you are excited to get the lawn moving, but I promise if you take the time to go through this simple exercise at the beginning of every season, you’ll be a much better applicator and get more consistent results.

To calibrate the spreader and verify the setting of 14 is correct, we need to “dial in” these 3 items:

  1. Application rate (pounds on the ground)
  2. Walking speed
  3. Overlap

In this article, I am mostly going to focus on the application rate which involves math. It’s fun, trust me!

However, the Walking Speed and the Overlap are equally important but those only come with practice. The good news for you, as a homeowner, is you only have 1 lawn to deal with so learning the best, most efficient way to apply is learned quickly. You only have to apply fertilizer with your spreader 2-3 times and you’ll see, it’s not that difficult. It’s like developing a golf swing but much easier and more rewarding.

Measuring Your Lawn

Before we go any further, let me give you a standard we go by. The stand is “1,000 sq ft” or square footage. That is the standard unit of measurement we use when it comes to talking about the area or size of lawns and applications that we make to them.

In other words, we talk in increments of 1,000 sq ft.

When you go to apply ANYTHING to the lawn: fertilizer, insecticide, bio-stimulants, weed control - liquid or granular - anything you apply to the lawn will have application rates that are expressed in increments of 1,000 sq ft.

Next, go outside and measure your lawn. Break it down into logical sections.
You can do this by creating a manual lawn map, or you can use the Yard Mastery app and our satellite tool to measure your lawn and record it in your lawn journal. You want to find out how many thousands of square feet you are working with.

Here on my property map, you can see I am working with just over 7,000 sq ft. It’s perfectly fine to round up or down to the nearest 500 sq ft.

You will also notice I have that broken down into logical segments based on where the driveway is, the street and sidewalks, etc. I am next going to choose an area that is 2,000 sq ft. I want you to do that too. Find a section of your lawn that is right at about 2,000 sq ft. This is going to be our test area.

Granular Fertilizer Application Rates

On the bag of Flagship, you can see the bag weighs 18lbs and covers 6,000 sq ft. By doing a little math I can then find the “application rate” which is 3lbs/1,000 sq ft. The way we say that is “the application rate of Flagship is 3lbs per 1,000 sq ft.”

Your job is to use your spreader to evenly apply 3lbs of Flagship across each 1,000 sq ft of lawn area. I prefer broadcast fertilizer spreaders for this task and that is the type of spreader I’m using in the video.

Now that we know the application rate is 3lbs/1,000 we can set out to test the spreader setting on our equipment and we are just only risking a small amount while we test. In this case, we need 6 lbs of Flagship.

Here’s the math:

  • Bag Weight: 18lbs
  • Coverage: 6,000 sq ft
  • Application Rate (18/6 = 3): 3lbs/1,000 sq ft.
Our test area is 2,000 sq ft, so we need 6lbs of Flagship fertilizer.

Here you will need a way to weigh it. You can get a postage scale or you can get a luggage scale. Either one will work. Get a bucket and weigh out 6lbs of Flagship.

Set your spreader to 14, dump in the fertilizer, and get ready to go! But let’s not forget the walk speed and the overlap.

These two need to also be correct so you get a consistent application across the lawn. The walk speed is 3.5 mph. That translates to what I call a “double fast walk” or “putting some ass into it!” You are not running but you are moving. Picture the fertilizer flying out from both sides as you walk. If you crawl too slowly it doesn’t spread evenly, it clumps. If you walk too fast it flings the fertilizer out far and wide and ruins the pattern. Your walk speed should reflect a pace that allows a swath width of around 7 ft from left to right. In other words, most spreaders throw about 3.5 ft out to each side. Some more, some less but in the category of homeowners spreaders, this is a good starting point to consider as you learn your equipment.

Now that I know the width I am throwing, I want to throw back to the wheel tracks of the previous pass each time I go up and back. This is the proper overlap and ensures good coverage of the product.

Because most of the Yard Mastery fertilizers are blended in lighter colors, it’s easy to see where the fertilizer is going as you apply it. This is part of learning - eventually, you’ll just know how far out your spreader throws.

Walk back and forth in rows throwing back to the wheel tracks of the previous pass each time. The walk speed is 3.5 mph.

When you are done, if you came up short or you came up with a bunch left, review your walk speed and overlap. This is typically where people make mistakes. They don’t overlap enough (have some leftovers) or overlap too close (run out too early).
Have a family member videotape your application and that can help you review!

If the walk speed and overlap are good, then at that point you can just use either a lighter or heavier setting for your particular piece of equipment. For the YM fertilizers, setting 14 or 15 works just fine on the Earthway spreaders. So some of you could be up at around 16 and still be getting proper coverage, however, if you find you need to adjust more than 2 settings away from what the bag recommends, you probably have an issue with the spreader itself. Could be a nut has moved loose somewhere, or something is bent. I’ll be making more videos troubleshooting the YM spreader to show what I have found can happen with use over time.

I hope this article has been helpful to you!

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