If you have a large lawn or garden, chances are you’ve considered getting a spreader to help with the task of spreading fertilizer or seed. There are two types of spreaders that you can use to spread fertilizer or other materials on your lawn: tow behind vs push spreader.

A tow-behind spreader is pulled behind your tractor or ATV, while a push spreader is pushed by hand. Each has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs. Both can cover a lot of ground quickly in the right hands, but in the wrong hands, they could cause damage to your lawn if used improperly.

That’s why It is important to know the difference between the two types of spreaders before you make a purchase. By examining the key features and the proper use of each type, we will help you decide which is right for you.

Difference Between Tow Behind vs Push Spreader

Difference Between Tow Behind vs Push Spreader

When it comes to maintaining a beautiful lawn, there are a few key tools that every gardener needs. One of the most important is a spreader. Those spreaders distribute fertilizer, grass seed, and other materials evenly across a lawn. The spreaders that are towed behind and those that are pushed differ in several ways.

Here are some of the key differences:

1. The Design:

The main difference between a tow-behind spreader and a push spreader is the design. The design of a push spreader is such that it can be operated by hand, as the name suggests. You will have to walk behind the push spreader and push it along as you go. The fertilizer or other material that you are spreading will be under your control at all times.

On the other hand, a pull-behind spreader can be towed by either a lawn tractor or an ATV. These spreaders remove the need for you to push them automatically. The beauty of using a tow-behind spreader is that you can cover more ground in a shorter amount of time.

2. Size

Size is one of the biggest differences between the tow behind vs. the push spreader. The size of a push spreader is limited by the fact that it must be pushed by hand. As such, most handheld spreaders are small and compact. They are designed to be lightweight so that they can be easily maneuverable.

On the other hand, tow-behind spreaders come in a variety of sizes. The size will be determined by the vehicle that is pulling it. If you use a tractor, you can get away with a larger spreader. When using an ATV, you should choose a smaller model.

3. The Capacity

Tow-behind spreaders are also different from push spreaders in terms of their capacities. Push spreaders have a limited capacity due to their size. A push spreader can typically hold up to 50-150 pounds of fertilizer or granular product This is enough to cover a small to medium-sized lawn.

Spreaders that are towed behind have a much greater capacity. Depending on the spreader’s size, the capacity will vary. Most tow-behind spreaders can hold up to 75-175 lbs of fertilizer granules. The amount is sufficient to cover a large lawn or garden.

4. Time

Tow behind and push spreaders are also different in how long it takes to complete the job. A push spreader will take longer to cover the same amount of ground as a pull-behind spreader. This is because you have to push the drop spreader by hand and cover the ground manually.

With a pull behind spreader, the job can be completed in half the time. This is because the spreader is pulled by a vehicle so you can cover a greater distance in less time. Plus, you don’t have to worry about pushing the spreader, which allows you to save energy.

5.  Ease of Use:

When it comes to ease of use, push spreaders have the advantage. They are compact and simple to operate, making them ideal for small lawns. Also, this spreader is easy to operate, and you can control the amount of fertilizer or other granular products being distributed.

Tow behind spreaders, on the other hand, can be more challenging to control, especially on hilly terrain. You’ll also need to be careful not to damage delicate plants or flower beds while pulling the drop spreader. The spreader must also be towed by a vehicle, which adds an extra step to the process.

The Pros and Cons of Towing Behind and Pushing Spreaders

The Pros and Cons of Towing Behind and Pushing Spreaders

Now that we have looked at the key differences between tow behind vs push spreaders, it’s time to take a closer look at the pros and cons of each. This will help you decide which type of spreader is right for your needs.

Tow Behind Spreader:


  • Can cover more ground in less time
  • No need to push
  • Can adjust the speed of spreading
  • Save time and energy


  • Control may prove challenging
  • Product waste may increase
  • To increase accuracy, keep it steady

Push Spreaders:


  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver
  • Easy to operate
  • It’s easy to control how much fertilizer you use
  • Great for small lawns


  • Covers the same distance more slowly
  • Limited capacity
  • More time-consuming

Is It Easy to Spread Fertilizer With a Tow Behind or Push Spreader?

Is It Easy to Spread Fertilizer With a Tow Behind or Push Spreader

After comparing tow behind and push spreaders, you might wonder which one is easier to use. There are many factors to consider when deciding whether a push spreader or a tow-behind spreader is the best option for spreading fertilizer. 

One key consideration is the size of the area that needs to be fertilized.  With a tractor, ATV, and a lawn up to an acre (or more), a tow-behind spreader can deliver fertilizer and seed fast. You must ensure that you have the right kind of hitch for your vehicle. It is convenient to use the tow behind broadcast spreader

You just fill it with fertilizer, raise or lower the spreader hood to your desired setting, and go away. Depending on your needs, you can slow down or speed up the fertilizer dispensing rate. If you have a small lawn or need to spread fertilizer around obstacles, a lawn spreader might be a better option. 

Also, if you don’t have a vehicle that can tow fertilizer spreaders, then a push spreader is your only choice. You just fill the broadcast spreader with fertilizer, select the rate at which the fertilizer spreader should be dispensed, and push the fertilizer around your lawn.

What Is the Ideal Spreader Setting?

The ideal spreader setting depends on several factors, including the type of product you’re using, the size of the area you’re treating, and your desired spreading pattern. For granular products, such as fertilizer or weed control, you should always start with a low setting and increase it as needed.

If you find that there’s material left over after making a pass, you can increase the setting until you’re using all of the product. On the other hand, if you run out of product before reaching the end of your designated area, lower the setting. The flow rate needs to be adjusted for liquid products, such as herbicides or insecticides.

The best way to determine the ideal flow rate is to set the setting low and then gradually increase it until you achieve the desired coverage. Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution, as you can always make another pass if necessary.

Tips for Utilizing the Tow Spreader Evenly?

Tips for Utilizing the Tow Spreader Evenly

Many gardeners have the same problem when using a tow spreader: how to ensure fertilizer or whatever is applied evenly. After all, if the spreader isn’t used correctly, you may have streaks of uncooperative grass or patches of bare ground. 

Here are some tips to help you get an even spread every time. 

To begin with, ensure that the spreader has been calibrated properly. Most models come with adjustable settings that allow you to control the flow rate. Spread the material straight from one end to the other of the area to be treated. The final recommendation is to avoid turning while spreading, which can lead to uneven coverage. 

By following these simple tips, you can ensure an even fertilizer application or whatever else you may use your tow spreader for.

Can I Spread Grass Seed With a Push Spreader?

It is possible to spread grass seeds using a push spreader, but you may not need a separate spreader for this purpose. When you want to use a push spreader to spread grass seed, you first must determine the ideal flow rate. The important thing is to calibrate the broadcast spreaders properly so that you don’t end up with too much or too little seed in your lawn.

As grass seeds are much smaller than fertilizer pellets, you should begin at a lower setting and work your way up. Once you’ve determined the best flow rate for your grass seed, apply the seed to your lawn at the desired rate. If you’re using a broadcast spreader, make sure to overlap each pass by 50% to ensure even coverage.

Most Grass seed packages will have directions on best calibrating your drop spreader. Also, avoid spreading grass seeds on windy days, as the seeds could blow away before they have a chance to take root. Using a push spreader, you can achieve a beautiful, luscious lawn with proper lawn care and attention.

Spreader Selection: Tow Behind vs Push Spreader

Spreader Selection Tow Behind vs Push Spreader

So, now that you know a little more about tow behind and push spreaders, which one is right for you? Like most things in life, the answer depends. A tow-behind spreader will likely be the better option for large lawns and gardens.

It may be sufficient to use a push spreader for smaller areas. It’s less expensive and can be maneuvered easily in tight spaces. Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and what will work best for your particular needs.

No matter which type of spreader you choose, proper calibration is essential for ensuring an even application. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take your time when calibrating the device. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be a pro in no time.