Feed, Seed, and Weed – The 9 Best Tow Behind Spreaders for Your Lawn 2021


Large lawns can look stunning if you’re willing to put in the extra time and effort to achieve ball-park-worthy results.

And you certainly need to make sure you have the right tools and equipment for the job.

When you need to feed, seed, and weed, doing it by hand is going g to be a mammoth task.

That’s why we’re taking a look at the best tow behind spreaders for your lawn, so you can get the job done in no time, and let nature take care of the rest.

A buyer’s guide and FAQ section will follow.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you shop through the links on YardThyme, we may earn an affiliate's commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. For more information, read full disclosure here.

What is a Tow Behind Spreader?

A tow-behind spreader is a device that is used to distribute seeds and other products from a wheeled container that you attach to the back of a garden vehicle.

Most commonly made from a rugged poly material, they come in various sizes and weight capacities depending on the area you need to cover.

They are available in two distinct types – broadcast and drop. Keep reading for the advantages and disadvantages of each.

tow behind spreader
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spreader_AF.jpg

Tow Spreader Uses

Aside from the ability to spread seeds, tow-behind spreaders are actually a little more versatile than that.

They can also be used for distributing fertilizer or lawn feed, as well as granulated pesticides and herbicides.

This is often a preferred method of laying down such products, as granular weed and insect control tends to be less harsh than spray or liquid chemicals.

But if you are looking for a spray version, check out this article on the best tow-behind sprayers instead.

In the winter, spreaders can also be used to put down ice melt or salts, but care should be taken when and where you apply both – and only if it’s really necessary.

The 9 Best Tow Behind Spreaders 2021

Agri-Fab 45-0463 Tow Behind Broadcast Spreader

Based out of Illinois, Agri-Fab manufactures some excellent lawn and garden-maintenance tools and equipment, including some quality dump carts – and you can follow that link for more.

This is a highly-rated tow-behind broadcast spreader that has a 130 lbs weight capacity, which is ideal for larger areas and ensures you won’t need to be stopping all the time to fill it up. A universal hitch allows you to hook it up to just about any lawn vehicle, while the large, rugged, pneumatic tires can handle rough, uneven terrain.

The gearbox is enclosed to prevent damage and corrosion and promote long life, and an on/off rod is accessible from your driving position for precise, smooth control while you’re on the go.

Pros

  • Tough, durable construction.
  • Tapered gears.
  • Very highly rated.
  • 25,000 square feet coverage.
  • Easy to assemble and use.
  • Flow control with adjustable stop.
  • Optional hopper cover available.

Cons

  • On the more expensive side.
  • Reports that it retains a fair amount of product in the bottom.

Conclusion

One of the most popular and well-received tow-behind spreaders on the market, this is a durable product from Agri-Fab that is ideal for covering larger acreage.

Brinly-Hardy Tow-Behind Aerator-Spreader

Brinly-Hardy Tow-Behind Aerator-Spreader

Founded back in 1839, Brinly-Hardy has been manufacturing top-quality lawn-care products for well over a century, so they know a thing or two about broadcast seed spreaders.

This is a heavy-duty, versatile piece of equipment, given the fact that it’s actually a combination aerator and spreader. Use it to aerate your lawn before overseeding, so you have one tool that does two important lawn-care jobs.

The durable steel hopper has a 100 lbs weight capacity, and the calibrated flow control allows you to set the drop spread pattern in order to prevent unnecessary waste.

A transport lever raises the durable, rust-resistant steel tines for driving over walkways, and the 18-gauge steel construction reduces flexing and twisting when fully loaded.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Solid, durable construction.
  • Heavy-duty nylon spacers.
  • Two-in-one design.
  • Easy to assemble.
  • Universal hitch system.

Cons

  • Not as much control as a dedicated broadcast spreader.

Conclusion

Probably the best tow behind aerator spreader on the market. Aerate your lawn and then fertilize or overseed with the same tool. But if you’re looking for separate products, I recommend checking out this article on the best lawn aerators on the market.

Chapin 8620B Tow Behind Spreader

For those really large seeding or fertilizing spreading jobs, this Chapin product has one of the highest capacities in this review. Capable of holding up to 150 lbs worth of product, it features an auto-stop dual impeller that will stop spreading when not in motion – which is handy for reducing waste.

14-inch pneumatic tires can tackle just about any terrain, and the heavy-duty gearbox has been treated with oil and bronze bearings to improve performance and long life. The steel frame is solid and durable, while the trailer-hitch has been designed to be compatible with most lawn tractors.

And speaking of, why not take a look at this article on the best riding lawnmowers for rough terrain for something that will go hand-in-hand with the Chapin?

Pros

  • Tough, rugged build.
  • Wide tread tires for grip.
  • 11-setting gate control.
  • Large, easy-fill hopper.
  • Ideal for reducing waste and/or preventing lawn burning.
  • Powder-coated frame.
  • Large area coverage.

Cons

  • Assembly might be a little on the complex side for some.

Conclusion

If you’re tired of spreaders wasting product or maybe even burning and over-fertilizing your lawn, then perhaps this device with an auto-stop feature is the answer. And that extra-large hopper will certainly help you cover a lot of ground in one sitting for maximum efficiency all around.

Agri-Fab Tow Behind Spreader

Agri-Fab Tow Behind Spreader

Here we have another Agri-Fab entry, this time a more compact version that’s capable of a maximum 85 lbs product capacity.

Made with heavy-duty polyethylene, the hopper is rust and corrosion-proof and can distribute its contents up to 10 feet away with a continuous flow that eliminates streaks.

Featuring an enclosed gearbox to prevent wear and tear, the tubular steel frame is tough and durable, with a flow control within reach, so you can manage just how much product you’re dispensing while driving your vehicle.

The easy-to-set controls also allow you to apply just the right amount of product to your lawn – whether it be seeds, fertilizer, or anything else you need.

Pros

  • Great price point.
  • Rust-proof spreader plate.
  • Steel axle.
  • Smooth-rolling action.
  • Large, 10-inch pneumatic tires for rough terrain.

Cons

  • Assembly might cause some folks problems.

Conclusion

A great little tow-behind broadcast spreader, this is ideal for smaller yards and gardens, and/or if you’re on a budget, and you’re looking for something that won’t break the bank.

Ohio Steel Drop Spreader

Ohio Steel Drop Spreader

Ohio Steel was always going to have a product in this review, given the quality of their lawn and garden care output. This is a drop spreader, which makes it ideal for fine-tuning your product spread and not overstepping the mark.

The 36-inch, 20-gauge-steel hopper has a generous 100 lbs weight capacity and offers a precise distribution pattern between the wheels. The tires themselves are 12-inches in diameter and are of the “never flat” design, so they’ll never need filling up.

It fits all models of lawn vehicles with a rear pin hitch receiver, including some of these awesome commercial zero-turn mowers for the very best in large lawn maintenance and care.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Adjustable flow system.
  • Solid, durable steel build.
  • Easy-to-use.
  • Affordable price point.
  • Versatile use.
  • Zero-turn capable.

Cons

  • Often out of stock.

Conclusion

An excellent drop spreader from Ohio Steel that should last you many seasons to come. And for more quality lawn-care equipment from this and many other brands, check out this article on the best lawn sweepers for keeping your yard nice and tidy.

Brinly BS36BH Tow-Behind Broadcast Spreader

One of the largest spreaders on the market, this giant offering from Brinly is also one of the most popular and highly rated. Offering an enormous 175 lbs capacity, you’ve got three and a half cubic feet of product at your disposal if you so choose.

And it’s solidly built, too, with a heavy-duty poly hopper, stainless steel hardware, spinner shaft and agitator. The one-piece tubular steel frame is as durable as they come, and the gearbox is fully enclosed to keep it operating at peak performance.

Large, 13-inch pneumatic tires have a grippy lug to handle all kinds of terrain, and the patented directional spread offers accurate control for product distribution.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Perfect for larger areas.
  • Universal hitch for lawn tractors and ATVs.
  • 30-minute assembly.
  • Easy to calibrate.
  • Rugged and durable design.
  • Quality nylon cover included.

Cons

  • Often out of stock.

Conclusion

An outstanding offering from Brinly here, and that nylon cover is a nice touch to keep the product dry and uncontaminated, all while protecting the driver from any rogue flying granules. Top marks on this one, and it’s possibly one of the best tow behind broadcast spreaders out there.

John Deere Tow-Behind Broadcast Spreader

John Deere Tow-Behind Broadcast Spreader

Outdoor power equipment specialists John Deere were not going to be outdone in this category, and this is their version of a 175 lbs tow-behind broadcast spreader.

Like the Brinly, it offers a 3.5 cubic feet capacity, inside a durable polyethylene hopper that is impervious to rust. Finished in the John Deere iconic green livery, it has a handy auto-flow function that stops spreading product when you stop, and the gearbox is enclosed to protect the inner workings and ensure a long life at peak performance.

Capable of a maximum spread of 12 feet, you’ll cover more ground and get the job done in no time with this option from the Illinois-based agriculture stalwarts.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Steel frame.
  • Built to last.
  • Universal hitch.
  • Directional spread pattern.
  • Large pneumatic tires.
  • Shut off for walks and driveways.

Cons

  • On the pricey side compared to other options.

Conclusion

They say that nothing runs like a Deere, and they might well be right with this tow-behind broadcast spreader. And if you want to check out a good selection of compatible vehicles, take a look at this article to see John take on Husqvarna and Cub Cadet in the lawn tractor stakes.

Agri-Fab Poly Pro Tow Drop Spreader

Agri-Fab Poly Pro Tow Drop Spreader

Designed for professional landscapers, this large drop spreader from Agri-Fab offers a 42-inch hopper that’s capable of carrying 175 lbs worth of product.

Cover as much as one acre with ease, with a universal hitch that is compatible with most brands of lawn tractor – as well as zero-turns. The heavy-duty poll hopper is rust-proof and won’t dent, while the galvanized steel agitator is also corrosion-resistant and easy-to-clean for longevity and peak performance.

The large, pneumatic tires provide a smooth transport solution, ensuring you can drive all over your property with an accurate product distribution.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Fully adjustable flow system.
  • Professional-grade.
  • Tractor-seat controls.
  • Easy-to-clean.
  • Heavy-duty construction throughout.

Cons

  • Trial and error to find the proper settings.

Conclusion

The drop spreader of choice if you have more than an acre to cover, this option from Agri-Fab is ideal for larger areas where you need a bit more dispensing control.

Buyers Products UTV All Purpose Spreader

Something a little different to finish with now as I’ve decided to include this all-purpose spreader for use with UTVs. Technically not a “tow-behind” but more a “carry-behind,” it attaches to the back of your vehicle with the included receiver mount hardware.

It can carry up to 150 lbs worth of product and is capable of a spread width of 30 feet – which is pretty impressive when you think about the design.

Made from heavy-duty poly and steel, it’s also the only spreader to feature a built-in 12 Volt motor that powers the electric spinner. This is a great option for achieving a super-fast spread – providing you have the compatible machine to actually carry it.

Pros

  • Electric spreading motor.
  • Durable construction.
  • Fast distribution.
  • Versatile use.
  • Easy to set up.
  • Large capacity hopper.
  • Motorized spreader.

Cons

  • No hopper agitator.
  • Not everyone has access to a UTV.

Conclusion

A good alternative option if you happen to have a UTV of some kind, the electric motor in this spreader makes it one of the most efficient devices out there, and you can surely cover a lot of ground with the right setup.

How to Choose the Best Tow Behind Spreader

Below, you’ll find a few handy hints on what to look for when you’re in the market for a tow-behind spreader.

An FAQ section follows in case we’ve missed anything.

Do You Need a Tow-Behind Spreader?

Before firing in and purchasing a tow-behind spreader, it’s a good idea to figure out if you actually need one first.

Perhaps you can get away with using a push spreader, like this iconic version from Scotts?

Maybe simply looking to spot-treat a few small areas, and a handheld spreader will suffice?

As a rule of thumb, if you’re looking to cover more than half an acre with seed, fertilizer, or anything else, then a tow-behind spreader is likely your best bet.

And don’t forget – you need to have the right kind of vehicle to pull it.

Type of Spreader

There are commonly two types of tow-behind spreaders, and you’ll need to decide which one is right for you.

Broadcast spreaders are designed with an impeller that rotates as you move along. Depending on the spreader, you can set this to different increments to dispense more or less product over a wider range.

Some broadcast spreaders might even have an auto-stop feature, which means that it will only cast the product if you’re in motion.

This can seriously reduce waste as well as prevent lawn burning with fertilizers.

Broadcast spreaders are ideal for covering larger areas where you’re not too concerned about where the seeds or fertilizer actually ends up. You’re looking for a random distribution over an extensive space.

However, broadcast spreaders can be notorious for simply flinging products everywhere – including places you don’t want it to go.

Even with certain technology for guarding edges, this can cause problems if you’re trying to be accurate, and you can finish with a wasted product – particularly on walk and driveways.

On the other hand, drop spreaders are so-called because they simply drop the product straight down as they pass. There’s no spinning impeller, and so you get a more precise distribution.

Drop spreaders are useful for when you only want seed or fertilizer to go in a certain location – such as along borders, edges, or plot lines.

The last thing you want is grass growing in the garden beds – or anywhere else it’s not required. And you certainly don’t want to throw any product into a neighbor’s property.

The downside to drop spreaders is they can create lines of the product along with your lawn, so you need to be careful when making each pass.

And they’re not as good as broadcast spreaders for covering wider areas and are more restrictive when it comes to distribution rates.

Lawn/Garden Size

It’s not rocket science – the larger the area you need to cover, the bigger the hopper will need to be in your tow-behind spreader.

Of course, you’re more than welcome to use a smaller model if you’re looking to save a bit of money, but you’re certainly not going to save any time by constantly needing to stop and start to fill it up.

Here’s a rough guide to what you should be looking out for when it comes to spreader size:

For around 1/4-acre, an 85 lbs capacity spreader should suffice.

For 1/2-acre, a 100-130 lbs spreader should do.

And for one acre and over, look for spreaders that provide over 150 lbs worth of product capacity. The sweet spot being 175 lbs.

As well as the weight capacity, some spreaders also include how much product you can fill them with when it comes to cubic feet.

Sometimes, it’s more about space and less about weight.

Quick tip: For particularly large gardens or areas, you’ll still need to top up the spreader anyway, but with a larger hopper, you’ll not need to do so as frequently.

Top tip – as an example, don’t try to fill a 50 lbs lawn spreader with 50 lbs worth of product, as you’ll run into all kinds of wasteful problems. Overfilling is always a recipe for a mess, so don’t get carried away just to try and save some time.

Flow Rate and Controls

Having a selection of flow rates with a spreader is important – particularly when it comes to overseeding or establishing new grass seeds.

Some lawn-care granular products/seeds will have a suggested flow rate written on the bag.

With others, you will have to do some math to figure out how much product you need in order to set the controls correctly and adequately cover the area. Or, it might well require a bit of trial and error to get right.

It’s very important that this calibration is accurate, as spreading too much or too little product can have seriously negative effects, including “burning” or damaging your existing turf.

While it might seem like the more options the better, you really don’t need a crazy amount of different increments. Just so long as you have a decent selection to do the job you should be fine.

And it’s a good idea to be able to reach these controls from the driving position – so pay attention to how you access them while you’re in motion.

Don’t be put off by the title of this post, but for more information on seeding and overseeding – including an in-depth guide on how to do it – check out this article on lawn care after winter.

The advice contained within can be used throughout the year – depending on your grass type.

Tires and Hardware

If you happen to have rough, uneven ground, then it might be a good idea to look for a spreader with larger pneumatic tires.

Something with a nice, grippy lug should do, with good clearance on the spreader, so you’re not likely to damage the undercarriage when going over lumps and bumps.

Quick tip: if this sounds like your yard, perhaps you should consider trying one of these lawn rollers to even things out? If you’re not convinced, head on over to this article on the benefits of lawn rolling – which might change your mind.

And make sure all other hardware on the spreader is up to scratch, durable, and treated for rust and corrosion.

Vehicle and Hitch Options

While most of the best tow behind fertilizer spreaders will come with a universal hitch designed to be compatible with the common makes of lawn tractor, it’s worth double-checking before purchase.

You certainly don’t want to get the thing home only to realize it can’t attach to your machine.

You’ll find the product’s compatibility in the specifications. For the most part, tow-behind spreaders can be used with lawn tractors, zero-turn mowers, and UTV/ATV vehicles.

Take a look at this article if you’re not sure what kind of mower you should have for your yard, and see if a ride-on machine is an answer. In order to use a tow-behind spreader, you need the right vehicle to actually tow it behind.

Cost

Cheap tow-behind spreaders aren’t going to be that good, but there are bargains to be had if you do your research well.

Most of the products I’ve included in this review aren’t going to break the bank, but you should consider how much use you’re going to get out of it before spending the big bucks.

Buy something quality if you’re going to be using it regularly – which will no doubt mean spending a little more.

And check out this review on the best budget zero-turn mowers – just in case you thought that technology was only available to the super-rich.

FAQs

What is the best tow-behind spreader?

That depends on your own circumstances. No two yards or gardens are the same, so the best spreader for my property might not be the best for yours.

That said, you can’t go wrong with any of the products in this review, so take a look again and see if you can find the option that is most suitable for your needs.

Do Scotts make a tow-behind spreader?

You might think that the legendary lawn-care experts would make such a product, but at the time of writing, I could only find manual push/pull spreaders from Scotts.

Feel free to explore their website and prove me wrong, but perhaps they’ll design one in the future. After all, their broadcast spreaders are often the go-to choice for the homeowner.

Which is better: a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader?

They both have their advantages and disadvantages, which I’ve covered in more detail in the buyer’s guide above.

In a nutshell, a broadcast spreader is better for covering large areas, while a drop spreader is better if you need to be more accurate with the cast, such as along edges, borders, or anywhere you don’t want to drop the product.

How do you tow behind the broadcast spreader?

It’s pretty straightforward to set up your tow-behind spreader, providing you have the right hardware that is compatible with your vehicle.

Although the video below is geared towards Agri-Fab products, I think it’s useful as an overall guide for how to use a tow-behind spreader and get the best out of it, so give it a watch for some tips.

Who makes Brinly spreaders?

I have to admit I could find no information on why Brinly-Hardy products are now only labeled as Brinly, but the same company has been in operation for over 180 years.

As such they are still behind the Brinly spreaders, which are manufactured in Indiana, USA.

Summary

The best tow-behind spreaders will help you cover large areas of your property when your lawn needs rescuing, freshening up, treating for weeds and bugs, or a complete overhaul.

Let me know which product you’ve gone for and why, or if you have any tips and tricks for getting the best out of your lawn that you’d like to share with the community.

Best of luck, and happy spreading!

Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

Recent Content