Pesticides and fertilizers are common tools for the home gardener and lawn enthusiast. Pesticides are sprayed on to provide thorough coverage. Fertilizers can be sprayed or granules can spread mechanically depending on the available equipment, the amount of area being treated and the gardener's preference. Equipment used to spread pesticides should not be used to spread fertilizer. Protective clothing, including safety glasses and breathing masks, should be worn when working with chemicals.
Pesticides are most often applied through foliar or spraying techniques. Spraying allows the greatest reach in terms of height and width and provides fuller coverage when working with pesticides. Foliar applications are not used as often for fertilizers but there are situations where it is desirable. Some of these situations might be when only micro-nutrients are needed for specific plants such as trees, or when soil conditions exist that prohibit soil application. Fertilizers can also be combined with certain pesticides or fungicides and applied together, reducing labor and costs.
Granular forms of fertilizer and pesticide are distributed with a spreader. A spreader is either handheld or cart that is pushed. Both have calibrated openings and broadcast the granules over the area being treated. The chemical is poured into the spreader according to recommendations on the manufacturer’s packaging and homeowner walks back and forth across the area releasing the granules along the way. This technique works well for wide, open areas such as lawns.
For flower beds or backyard vegetable gardens, general purpose fertilizers are often worked into the soil when it is tilled. This can be in the autumn or spring. The soil is usually tilled once to churn it up and break up compacted areas. Fertilizer is then spread over the area and the soil is tilled a second time to work it into the soil.
Banding is a technique of spreading fertilizer along rows of established plants or in circles around established trees and bushes. This is done so that the fertilizer does not come directly in contact with plants where it can cause fertilizer burn. Usually a spreader is used to apply fertilizer in these situations.
Some products come in ready-to-use spray applicators. Others are available in containers that attach to a garden hose and are mixed as the water gushes into them and out the nozzle. Some spray devices are carried in one hand while the other hand dispenses the chemicals through a nozzle. Others are carried on the back in a backpack-type unit.