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The Top Handheld Spreaders for Fertilizer, Seed, and Snowmelt

Complex machines are great, but sometimes, a simpler device gets the job done better. That’s exactly why you want to consider a handheld seed and fertilizer spreader. They’re fantastic if you have a small area to cover or if you want to be precise in your work. 

We’ve got the lowdown on these handy tools – and some recommendations for which ones to consider! 

When To Choose A Handheld Spreader

If you have a large area to seed, a hand spreader might not be for you. A walk-behind broadcast spreader or drop spreader is more suited to big areas since they hold more seed and you don’t have to carry it around. And very large areas benefit from a tractor-pulled spreader.

But if you just have a small lawn to take care of, or want to be sure to cover all the oddly-shaped corners of the yard, you definitely want a hand-held spreader. It will get the job done and make sure every area is taken care of.

Pros and Cons

A handheld spreader has several advantages, and some drawbacks, too. Let’s have a look at each.

On the plus side, it’s not going to put as big a dent in your budget as a walk-behind model. These smaller units come with smaller prices to match.

They’re perfect when you only need to seed a small area. Why get a tool that’s oversized for your needs? Besides the price, it’s harder to move and takes up more storage space.

A handheld spreader also gives you more control over how much seed or fertilizer is spread and where it lands. You can make sure every little spot has just enough without wasting or underapplying. 

Most hand spreaders work not only with grass seed and fertilizers but also with ice melt. So you can get use out of it throughout the year!

And finally, they’re easy to carry and store! They hold an amount of seed that’s not too heavy for the average person so you don’t have to worry about stress or strain.

Of course, there are some negatives. 

It takes longer to get the job done when using a handheld spreader. So if you have a large area to cover, it may not be for you. Likewise, it doesn’t hold much seed, so you’d have to continually refill it.

And as the name implies, you have to carry it. You also have to crank it. And that can get tiresome over an extended period. 

Best Handheld Seed and Fertilizer Spreaders

If a handheld spreader is suitable for your needs, there are, fortunately, many great alternatives. If you think another type of spreader may be better for you, you can read up on all the major types here

Here are our favorites handheld seed and fertilizer spreaders:

Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Spreader

scott whirl seed and fertilizer spreader

This model is great for small areas up to about 1500 square feet. It’s easy to carry and operate. It even has a brace to support it against your forearm, taking a lot of the weight off your hand. 

It also has a wide range of opening settings to let you use a variety of seeds, fertilizer, and ice melt. 

The spread depends on how fast and how hard you crank it. We recommend slow and consistent, both to keep your hand from cramping and to be able to keep up a steady pace.

We’ve heard it occasionally jams, but that seems to be an extremely rare issue as long as properly-sized materials are in the hopper. 

Overall, it’s a fantastic product that we have no trouble recommending.

Solo 421 20-Pound Capacity Portable Chest-mount Spreader

solo seed and fertilizer spreader

Solo’s spreader holds up to 20 pounds of seed or fertilizer! Luckily, it includes a shoulder strap so that anyone can easily handle it.

It’s easy to adjust the direction and the amount of material being spread as well as the direction. It’s all controlled with switches you can manipulate with just a finger. 

The hand crank also turns easily, making spreading a breeze.

The hopper itself has a lid, too, which is unusual but handy. On open units, the seed or fertilizer may pop out if you crank too fast; the Solo 421’s design prevents that.

Some people may have issues with the design; it can be difficult to reach the handle unless you have the unit pulled high on your chest. That, in turn, can make it difficult to see where you’re walking.

Gardena Hand-Held Spreader M

handheld seed spreader by gardena

Gardenia’s medium-sized spreader holds about 3.5 pounds of seed, melt, or fertilizer. The amount varies a bit based on the density of the material, but you will be able to cover a decent amount of space without the need to refill.

And if you need a larger unit, there are “large” and “extra large” versions available, as well. 

It will spread your material from 3 to 14 feet, depending on how you set it and how fast you turn the crank.

Instructions and labeling are a little sparse, so you may have to experiment to figure out which setting is for seed, melt, or fertilizer.

It’s also smaller than most competitors. It seems to catch many people off guard! Be sure to take into account what we have listed here and the specs on Amazon to make sure it will suit your needs.

Sewanta 2 Liter Handheld Spreader

sewanta spreader for seed fertilizer and snow melt

This unit holds a volume of about 2 liters – the size of a large soft-drink bottle. For most applications, that will cover about 500 square feet. Not huge, but it’s a nice, handy tool if you have a small space to cover.

The top screws off when you need to fill it. Reattach it then adjust the dial to the right for your fertilizer, snowmelt, or seed. Then just pour the material out smoothly over the area. 

Unlike the models above, it doesn’t use a crank. That means it has a much smaller spread area, but it’s even more precise than the typical hand spreader. So the capacity is a good match for the effort required.

The plastic isn’t the best; it’s not going to stand up to a lot of banging around. However, if used correctly, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Snow Joe & Sun Joe SJSPD1 Handheld All-Season Multi-Purpose Spreader

snow joe handheld spreader

We admit that we thought this was a large tumbler for soft drinks when we first saw it! But it’s actually a good handheld spreader that holds up to 5 pounds of material.

It’s versatile enough that it’s advertised under both the “Sun Joe” and “Snow Joe” brand names – basically the seasonal names of the same company. This works great for snow melt as well as seed and fertilizer.

Like the tumbler we mistook it for, it has a twist-off cap. A spin dial in the cap serves to adjust for the type of material you want to spread, from finer things like grass seed to coarse snow melt. 

What makes this unique is that you spill it out rather than using a crank. That’s great for small spaces where you don’t want the material to spread too far. But it gets old fast if you’re trying to cover a larger area.


A handheld spreader is an awesome tool for spreading snowmelt, fertilizer, or grass seed when you have a small space to cover and want to be precise. It can be an awesome addition for use by itself or in conjunction with spreaders designed for larger areas. It’s an economical and useful addition to your lawn care shed!

About Us

Tom and Sarah Greenwood are the dynamic duo behind “Yards Improved,” dedicated to the joys and challenges of gardening, pool maintenance, and lawn and patio care. With Tom’s passion for landscape design and Sarah’s enthusiastic approach to gardening, they share their journey of transforming their backyard into a thriving retreat. We strive to offer practical advice aimed at helping you enhance your outdoor space.