Vigoro Broadcast Spreader Settings, Use, And Tips

Spreaders are the ultimate tool for…er, … spreading all sorts of fertilizers, seeds, and…all sorts. All gardens and farms need these babies. Even well maintained lawns need their use a couple times per year. I’m here to help you get the best out of yours. Are Vigoro Spreaders a good choice for your needs?

The Vigoro Broadcast Spreader used with fertilizer, preemergent, herbicides etc. should be set on lower settings and applied in a crisscross, double pass method. Their coverage, hopper size, and spread capacity make them ideal for most homeowners and gardeners.

Vigoro is one of the big names in this market, particularly when it comes to broadcast spreaders. The main selling point is just how configurable these spreaders are. To help you get off to a good start, I’ll run down a few considerations and calibration tips for your benefit.

Happy spreading! 


Vigoro Broadcast Spreader Settings

Vigoro, a subsidiary of Palmer Industries, knows what customers need before they need it. The American garden experts take many things into consideration, and this forethought has manifested itself in devices like the 4300 broadcast spreader.

The settings for any Vigoro spreader will be determined by preference, the material used, and a host of other factors. Most Vigoro spreaders have setting between 1 and 10 with some exceptions. Depending on the material and application, lower settings should be used with multiple passes.

We will look into many of these issues next. Now, let’s talk about some of the settings we recommend for your broadcast spreader.

Considerations For Settings

Factor number one is excellent coverage, of course. Broadcast spreaders can distribute material in spiral fashion several feet from the operator. The 4300 is ideal for areas as large as 5,000 square feet. Vigoro spreaders are also highly portable and light. As a result, anyone can be a certified master farmer or landscaper in no time.

The second factor is known as “spread capacity“. Essentially, this is the range of material the spreader can distribute. Various grains, granules, powders, etc., have differing weights and sizes. The very best spreaders can spread wide chunky granules of fertilizers, just as well as they can the finest lime powders.

The third consideration is additional functionality features. The Vigoro 4300 has a side shield, an essential feature that cuts the spreader’s distribution volume in half. This helps you minimize wastages of spread materials. Now, you don’t have to worry about loads of seed and/or fertilizer landing anywhere other than where they are supposed to land.

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What Setting Should My Vigoro Spreader Be On?

Calibration settings are often scaled from 1-10 or 1-20. Vigoro spreaders typically use a 1-10 scale.

For the Vigoro spreader main hopper opening which determines the total volume of material distributed at a time (aka material flow rate), a 7/10 setting is good for single pass applications. This setting should be reduced by half (3 or 4 out of 10) for the double pass method.

Almost three-quarter’s worth of total flow rate is reasonable for single pass lawn spreading, which is fairly quicker than walking through emerging crops. At this discharge rate, you should see reasonable distribution with your normal walking pace.

When you start spreading, always begin with the outer wheel one foot from the edge of the lawn. This minimizes the chances of material landing away from the lawn.

That said, the best way to get in tune with your spreader is good old trial and error. Practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to play around with your flow rate and product volume to get the best out of your walking pace and application passes.

I recommend that you start with lower values of each and work upwards than the opposite as this will help you make adjustments with minimal wastage.

I will talk more on it later, but there is no substitute for a two-pass application. Though, it is important to remember to scale down your quantities, sometimes by half. This means you should use half the lbs./square foot value and half the flow rate. 

The best two-pass method, in most cases, is the crisscross method, which involves one round of vertical passes and one round of horizontal passes over the same areas. This ensures more even distribution than simply retracing your steps.

Vigoro Broadcast Spreaders Versus Drop Spreaders

Speed vs precision is another thing manufacturers wrestle with. While many broadcast spreaders are fairly accurate, the emphasis across the whole submarket is very much focused on the briskness of the chore…and understandably so.

Because of the relatively large areas they are meant to serve, broadcast spreaders must be focused on getting the job done quickly to help save time (and your back). Higher range models like the Vigoro 4300 offer a more refined approach to this balance, as evidenced by its bar-topping pace and precision.

Unfortunately, they are yet to match the drop-for-drop precision of drop spreaders. Given the spiral distribution of broadcast spreaders, you would have to walk at a perfectly steady pace (on potentially bumpy ground) for you to even come close to matching the accuracy of a drop spreader. 

But hey, if broadcast spreaders were aiming to outdo drop spreaders, they’d be drop spreaders. 

Hopper size is a top priority for many users because frequent re-fills are annoying and time-consuming. This is one area where broadcast spreaders typically have drop spreaders beat. The Vigoro spreader can take more than 8 pounds of spread material.

How Much Should I Overlap Passes With A Broadcast Spreader?

There are two ways to go about answering this question. They are accomplishing the same thing, but with a different set of steps.

When measuring volumes and concentrations of your spread materials, you should consider whether you’re doing a one-pass application or a two-pass application.

A one-pass application is just as it implies…passing by a certain area once during spreading. A two-pass is passing by the same areas twice. I highly recommend scaling down your one-pass values if you want to go for a two-pass instead. If you don’t do this, you may use double the recommended quantities during application.

For one pass applications, the overlap should be as minimal as possible to ensure oversaturation does not occur. This is difficult and takes some practice to be able to accomplish consistently.

I strongly recommend lowering the settings on your spreader by half and doing the two pass method. This ensures a much more evenly distributed material over your lawn, and reduces the risk of over saturating areas. Overlapping considerations in the single pass method wouldn’t apply.

This can be done most efficiently by doing the entire area in one direction and then going over it again in a perpendicular direction. This weaving pattern we have found gives the best application in most situations.

It may take a bit more time, but your lawn will thank you in the end.

How Do You Use A Vigoro Spreader?

For this article, we’ll focus on settings for applying granular lawn fertilizers using a Vigoro Broadcast Spreader. Though many of these points can also apply to other materials and spreaders.

Before running the spreader over the lawn, you must ensure that the lawn has been mowed recently. The clippings must be bagged otherwise they may form clumps that prevent the spread material from reaching the soil.

If you are using a potentially toxic fertilizer, you must add it to the spreader’s hopper before you get out onto the lawn. This will save your grass in case of spillage. Spilled material may be scooped up if possible.

We advise against spreading on days that look like rain. Even windy days are problematic as the gusts can divert your spread material.

You should then measure the total work area and look at the spread material’s recommended distribution. Fertilizer bags usually have a lbs./square feet value they recommend for ideal results. To find how much you need to use, you need to divide your work area by this value. 

Fertilizer and seed bags may also have recommended material flow rates to give you a more comprehensive idea of what you need to do. However, much like the lbs./ square foot, the flow rate value may be grossly under (or over) estimated. These figures ought to be taken as beginner reference points, with a view to making circumstantial tweaks.

Once these considerations have been taken on board, you will be ready to calibrate the spreader.

The Final Touches On A Vigoro Broadcast Spreader…

Vigoro spreaders are light weight tools, but designed with enough durability to last through many years of use. They are consistent in their spread patterns if the hoppers and other parts are routinely cleaned after each use. You can’t go wrong with their design and construction for nearly all residential and light commercial uses.

If you are wanting to spread material over a larger area than a mailbox flower bed, but don’t have a large field to cover, the Vigoro Broadcast Spreader is just what you are looking for.

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Mathew Booe

Mathew has worked in landscaping professionally for over 10 years. He is a grandpa and frequently interviews other experienced landscapers and lawn care experts who are also grandpas for these articles.

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