Choosing the Right Sprayer: A Guide For Beginners

Finding the right sprayer for your application can be daunting. When you go to your local hardware store, farm store, or online, you will find many different sprayer brands, sizes, and types. Many of them seem similar, but there are subtle differences between different sprayer types. These can affect whether a sprayer will meet your needs or be a big waste of your money.

Don’t worry, no matter what type of spraying job you have in front of you, this guide will help point you to the precise sprayer type you need!

Spray Applications

The first step to finding the right sprayer is to know what kind of spraying you want to do. In the chart below you select your application to learn more about the types of sprayers that can meet your needs. If you

Categories:Sprayer Types:Related Articles:
Lawn & GardenHand Pump Sprayers
Backpack Sprayers
Small Boom Sprayers
>Hand Pump Sprayer Guide
>How Far Will a Pump Sprayer Spray?
>Backpack Sprayer Guide
Field & Turf Spot Sprayers
Boom Sprayers
Skid Sprayers
>Spot Sprayer Guide
>Boom Sprayer Guide
>Boom Versus Boomless Sprayer
Tree SprayersSkid Sprayers>What Kind of Sprayer Can Spray Tall Trees?
Industrial SprayersWater Sprayers
Dust Control Sprayers
De-ice Sprayers
Concrete & Asphalt Sprayers
>Can You Use a Turf Sprayer for De-Ice
>Building a Dust Control Sprayer
>What Kind of Sprayer Is Used for Driveway Sealers?

Lawn & Garden Sprayers

As a homeowner, weeds and other pests can seem like a plague. The key is identifying the right sprayer you need to apply pesticide to your lawn or garden in a way that is effective, affordable, and doesn’t take up all your free time. Let’s take a closer look at the options to find what will work best for you.

There are many variations of lawn and garden sprayers. They are often referred to as pump sprayers, backpack sprayers, cart sprayers, pull sprayers, spot sprayers, etc. They fall into three main categories: Hand sprayers, backpack sprayers, and mounted/pull-type boom sprayers. Let’s break down each type and the variations within them.

Hand Sprayers

A hand pump sprayer is perfect for spot treating and small lawns and gardens. However, the fact that they are so versatile, makes them great for many different applications. Their low cost makes them ideal for small, dedicated jobs. For example, I use a 2-gallon hand pump sprayer specifically for spraying Tempo in and around the home. I don’t use it for other chemicals, that way I can be sure I am not spraying anything unsafe in my home. 

Hand Sprayer Uses:

  • Pesticide application for small lawns
  • Applying disinfectants
  • Spray Roundup for spot treatment on lawns
  • Spraying fertilizer on a garden
  • Sealer or stain application

READ MORE: Hand Pump Sprayer Guide

Backpack Sprayers

Backpack sprayers function much like hand pump sprayers, but they are made to be carried on your back. They provide more capacity, allowing you to cover more ground without refilling. 

Like with hand pump sprayers, a backpack spray is suited for a variety of uses. However, the larger tank capacity makes it better for bigger jobs. Commercial pest control and lawn care pros will benefit from the heavier-duty brands. While homeowners with larger lawns or acreages can get by with more affordable options.   

Backpack Sprayer Uses

  • Pest control for larger lawns
  • Commercial lawn care
  • Spraying disinfectant
  • Spot spraying weeds in a large yard

READ MORE: Backpack Sprayer Guide for Beginners

Small Boom Sprayers

If you find that you are constantly refilling your hand or backpack sprayer, it might be time to consider something with a larger capacity. Chances are that if you have an extensive lawn to care for, you have a lawn mower. There are small boom sprayers designed to work with just about any type of lawn tractor and mower. So if you have a large area to cover carrying a hand sprayer or a heavy backpack sprayer can take a long time and be physically taxing.

A small boom sprayer is affordable and can make a tough all-day job no more difficult than mowing the lawn.


Field & Turf Sprayers

When you need to care for commercial properties, large lawns, golf courses, food plots, athletic fields, etc., you will need more than a hand pump sprayer or a small boom sprayer. While you may still have use for hand pump sprayers and backpack sprayers, to be efficient you will need equipment that can cover more ground and hold more capacity.

There are three main types of field and turf sprayers: spot sprayers, boom sprayers, and skid sprayers.

Spot Sprayers

A spot sprayer is really any sprayer that is made to spray isolated areas with a spray wand. They usually use a 12-volt pump and have 15-25 gallon tanks. These sprayer types are often called ATV sprayers because they are designed to fit on the back of an ATV. There are versions made that mount on lawnmowers, tractors, pickups, etc. These sprayers will give you more consistent spray patterns and reach than the hand pump or manual backpack sprayers.

Spot Sprayer Uses

  • Spot treatment of weeds or weedy areas in large yards/fields
  • Spray around buildings or along fences
  • Fertilizer application

READ MORE: Beginners Guide to Spot Sprayers

Large Boom Sprayers

There are certain types of spraying that require accuracy and efficiency. There is no more effective apparatus to apply herbicides or fertilizer than boom sprayers. While small, simple boom sprayers are adequate for spraying lawns or small fields. If you want to spray crops or spray large areas of turf, such as pastures, golf courses, etc., you need a larger sprayer.

Larger sprayers tend to offer more features like the ability to shut off sections on the boom or electronic rate control. The major benefits of boom sprayers are the ability to cover large areas more quickly and the precise application of fluid. Spot sprayers, backpack sprayers, and boomless sprayers do not offer the consistent spray coverage and precision that is needed for your pesticide or fertilizer to get results and still be cost-effective.

Boom Sprayer Uses

  • Apply fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides
  • Spray golf courses or athletic fields
  • Spraying pastures
  • Spraying crops

Tree Sprayers

Arborists use high-pressure skid sprayers to produce the spray reach necessary to treat tall trees. These sprayers consist of the same basic components as a spot sprayer, however, they produce much higher low rates and pressures. The components used are made to handle the higher pressure and accommodate the greater flow rate.

The pumps used are typically high-pressure diaphragm pumps that require more horsepower than the 12-volt pumps used on a spot sprayer. You may wonder if a pressure washer would be able to be used to spray trees, but pressure washers tend to produce pressure that is too great for this task. They cannot maintain a solid stream pattern over great distances and the water becomes a mist.

READ MORE: What Kind of Sprayer Can Spray the Farthest?

Industrial Sprayers

De-Ice/Anti-Ice Sprayers

The application of de-icing liquids over a large area or street is comparable to herbicide or fertilizer application. Like turf and field sprayers, a basic de-ice sprayer will consist of a tank, pump, controls, and spray boom. Despite the similarities, there are several aspects of liquid de-ice and anti-ice spraying that you must be aware of to get effective results.

If you are in commercial turf management and are looking to add de-icing services you will find the information you need to help you choose the type of sprayer and equipment you need. In many cases, you can use existing turf equipment and convert it for de-ice use or repurpose sprayers with a few tweaks.


Dust Control Sprayers

Dust control requires high volumes of water or calcium chloride. These sprayers have many of the same types of components as other sprayers but the differences are very important. Learn more in these articles:

Building a Dust Control Sprayer

Concrete/Asphalt Sprayers

As with lawn or agriculture sprayers, concrete and seal coat sprayers require equipment that is durable and provides efficiency. If you are looking for information on the types of sprayers to use or you want to build your own, these articles will provide you with answers:

Additional Resources

Regardless of the type of spraying you need to accomplish, when you are just getting started you will face many questions about the components, operation, and maintenance of your sprayer. From selecting the right sprayer nozzle to troubleshooting your pump, you can find the resources you need at

Recommended Sprayers & Accessories

Shane Blomendahl

I have more than a decade of experience using, building, studying, and testing sprayers in several applications. With the knowledge I have gained I want to provide straight forward and detailed answers for DIY homeowners, farmers, and commercial turf and tree care pros.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts