Spreading Granules Like the Turfgrass Pros

Whether you are spreading granular fertilizer, pre-emergent, insecticide, or seed, in order to achieve the best results, the object is to get an even distribution of product at the desired rate. Doing so will ensure your sports field granular applications are being done in the most effective manner. 


The key is to know your equipment. Some spreaders, like a drop spreader, can be calibrated to spread granules very precisely. However, the spread width is so small you would have to walk several miles just to cover one sports field. It goes without saying that using this sort of spreader on sports fields is not an optimal solution.


The most common type of spreader is commonly known as a "centrifugal" or "whirlybird" spreader. Using wider spreading widths clearly makes the job easier but more importantly gets better results through improved uniformity.  For instance, the Lely Model W has a spread width of 50 to 60 feet (using a typical fertilizer product), while most "PTO driven" units have a spread width of 15 to 25 feet. The "push" type of centrifugal spreader has spread widths of only 6 to 12 feet.

TMC Uses the Lely Spreader All Over Texas

All of these spreaders are capable of getting the job done, but you need to know what your spreader will do at a given ground speed. Once you know your spread width, make a mental note of your ground speed and try to use that same speed each time you use that spreader.

Double Pass Technique


Never try to spread all of the required product in one pass. If you miss an area of a field, it will be obvious. Likewise, if you over apply in an area, this too will be obvious.

The best method is to make two or more passes over the field in different directions. This is called "Double Passing". Typically you would set your spreader setting at half the normal rate and go over the area two times at right angles to each other (see illustration of a typical football field).

Double Pass Calibration

If you are not sure what the half rate setting should be, make an educated guess. Example: If your spreader has ten settings - 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. A safe setting for the first pass would be a "4". Make your first pass then see how much of your prescribed product is left over. If you have half of the product remaining then you simply make your second pass at the same setting.

If you have more than half of the product remaining after the first pass, then increase your spreader setting accordingly and make the second pass.

Conversely, if you have less than half of the product remaining after the first pass, then decrease your spreader setting accordingly and make the second pass.

No matter what type of granular product you are spreading, this technique will work. Always follow label recommendations for rate of application. If you are not sure, ask your TMC sales rep or call our office toll free at 1-800-292-1214 to make sure.

Additional Sports Field Tips For Spreading Granules

  • Apply granular products, especially fertilizer, when the grass is dry
  • Most granular products require immediate irrigation. Water the product in thoroughly before the field is put back in play. Insecticides and herbicides require twelve hours until re-entry (it's the law). Always be sure to consult the label.
  • Wash your equipment thoroughly after use. Let air dry and apply a light film lubricant to wear areas and moving parts.
  • Use a blower to remove product from running tracks, sidewalks, dugouts, etc. The iron in the fertilizer will stain these surfaces.

Need Turf Equipment?

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TMC sells a variety of turfgrass equipment essential for maintaining high quality sports turf. From fertilizer spreaders - like the Lely mentioned in this article - to aerating equipment, to field painting/line marking products, and more...TMC can help you get the products you need for your sports fields.

Contact TMC at 1-800-292-1214