The Many, Many Uses of a Sprayer

A “sprayer” can be defined as a device or tool designed to disperse liquids in a fine mist or stream, primarily used in the context of agriculture, lawn care, and garden maintenance. Sprayers are used for a variety of applications, including the distribution of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers. They come in several forms, ranging from small, handheld units to larger, more complex systems mounted on vehicles

We typically think of sprayers in terms of applying a pesticide or herbicide on a lawn or field but there are several ways a sprayer can be used. Especially sprayers with a hand spray gun and not a spray boom.

Let’s look at the different ways you can use each type of sprayer. If you would like to see a detailed description of these different sprayer types, refer to this article on the different types of sprayers.

Common Uses of a Hand Pump Sprayer

The tasks that you can do with a hand pump sprayer are numerous. Here is a list of several different ways you can use a hand pump sprayer:

  • Broadcast Spraying herbicides on smaller lawns and gardens
  • Applying pesticide barrier around your home or building
  • Spray cracks on a driveway or sidewalk
  • Spray an insecticide inside of your home, around baseboards, in basements, etc. 
  • Applying a sealer to a wood deck
  • Spraying disinfectants indoors and on counters or other relatively small areas like cooking areas, playrooms, bathrooms, etc.
  • Spraying cleaners on walls, equipment, vehicles, furniture, etc.
  • Water small seed beds (use only new sprayers not contaminated by chemicals)

View a complete hand pump sprayer guide here.

Common Backpack Sprayer Uses

A backpack sprayer can be used for anything that a hand pump sprayer can be used for with the added benefit of a little more convenience and capacity. The backpack sprayer although heavier, when filled, can offer an ergonomically alternative to a hand pump sprayer. It may allow you to work comfortably for a longer time. Here’s a list of specific scenarios that backpack sprayers are well-suited for:

  • Their larger volume allows for more ground to be covered before needing a refill, making them ideal for tackling larger areas of weeds or pest infestations.
  • Perfect for applying liquid fertilizer evenly across a sizable garden or orchard, ensuring that all plants receive the nutrients they need to thrive.
  • you can efficiently manage plant diseases over larger areas without stopping for refills.
  • sanitizing outdoor public spaces, seating areas, and playground equipment with disinfectant solutions.
  • Spray cleaner on the siding of a home
  • Spray small flower pots.

View a complete backpack sprayer guide.

Spot Sprayer Uses

Spot sprayers are your go-to for targeted applications, But they can also be used For broadcast spraying moderate-sized areas like lawns and Gardens. They are particularly useful when you need to address specific areas without affecting the surrounding vegetation or soil:

  • Perfect for eliminating weeds that pop up among crops or ornamental plants without harming the surrounding area.
  • When pests attack a specific section of your garden or field, spot sprayers let you zero in on the problem without blanket-spraying beneficial insects.
  • Apply fungicides directly to affected plants, minimizing the spread of disease and saving money by sparing healthy plants. 
  • Spray dust abatement liquids when using power tools for cutting and drilling. 
  • Water flower planters (use a new sprayer or thoroughly cleaned sprayer)
  • spot sprayers can be used for applying insect repellent or treatments on livestock and pets
  • Low-pressure rinsing and cleaning

View a complete guide to spot sprayers here.

Common Applications of Small Boom Sprayers

Boom sprayers are ideal for covering large areas of open space more efficiently than hand sprayers. Here are some of the many applications:

  • Great for applying herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers evenly across rows of crops in small to medium-sized fields.
  • Applying sealants or weed killers along extensive driveways, or walkways
  • Ensuring even coverage of pesticides and fertilizers on turf areas, sports fields, and parks
  • Applying de-icing liquid over parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks
  • Dust control on construction sites

View the complete boom sprayer guide.

ATV Sprayers Applications

For those who manage large plots of rough or remote land, ATV sprayers offer the perfect blend of mobility and capacity. Mounted on an all-terrain vehicle, these sprayers can go almost anywhere:

  • Ideal for covering remote areas that other sprayer types cannot access
  • Spray pastures and other areas with rough or uneven terrain that sprayers pulled by trucks, lawn tractors, or mowers cannot easily reach.
  • Spray herbicides on food plots for wildlife
  • Spray roadsides, medians, or right-of-way areas
  • Apply anti-ice liquids to gravel roads or driveways

View a complete guide on ATV and UTV sprayers here

Uses for Skid Sprayers & Spray Rigs

Skid sprayers or spray rigs offer a compact setup that offers versatility. They can be transported in truckbeds or trailers. They often have pumps that produce higher pressures than boom sprayers or smaller lawn sprayers. Typically, they use hand-operated spray guns and a long roll or hose to access areas far from the sprayer. Here are the many ways to use a sprayer rig:

  • Spray tall trees that require high pressure and flow to reach the tops.
  • Apply fertilizer commercially for residences, businesses, apartment complexes, etc.
  • When properly equipped they can be used for fire fighting and prevention.
  • Use for large-scale disinfection tasks or cleaning operations, such as washing down livestock barns, manufacturing facilities, and large public spaces
  • Mobile “Soft wash” cleaning applications
  • Rinsing out livestock trailers
  • Sealcoating pavement

View the complete spray rig guide.

Large Ag Sprayer Uses

Farmers rely on large sprayers to protect their crops in an efficient and precise manner. This increases production and saves money. It also helps to limit environmental impact. Here is how large agricultural sprayers are used:

  • The primary use, spraying pesticides/herbicides for a wide range of pests and weeds to protect crops and improve yield.
  • Apply fungicides to plants as needed
  • Apply fertilizers to fields
  • Spray fields to “burn down” weeds before planting

Different Types of Liquids You Can Spray With a Sprayer

There are limits to what a sprayer can be used for. Not all sprayers will be compatible with all types of liquid, not all sprayers will produce adequate pressure or flow for the task. Also, not every sprayer will disperse liquid in a manner that is effective for your application. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Example 1: Chemical Compatibility

In terms of sprayers, people tend to lump liquids together into broad groups: fertilizers, pesticides, agrochemicals, etc. While these terms do describe the role or purpose of the liquid it does not provide enough information to always ensure that your sprayer is compatible with every type of agrochemical or fertilizers.

After all, these are broad terms. A “Fertilizer” could be almost anything. Liquid iron, magnesium, nitrogen, fish guts, or even manure. Each of these compounds has different characteristics and will have different effects on sprayer materials and components.

One case that I have run into is spraying liquid iron with a sprayer that has a roller pump. The suspended solid particles in the iron fertilizer were very abrasive and hard on the rollers. This led to pump failure after only a few hours of operation. In the end, a diaphragm pump sprayer was used and it held up to the abrasive nature of the liquid much better.

So it is not always as straightforward as “This sprayer is for pesticides and herbicides” or “This sprayer is for fertilizers”. While for most liquids it would work fine, some will require some trial and error or research to determine the best options.

Different Liquids You Spray With a Sprayer

Below is a list of liquids that can be sprayed in a sprayer. It is not an exhaustive list and remember that for each chemical or liquid, there may be specific materials and pump types that will work best.

  • Herbicides
  • Insecticide
  • Fertilizer
  • Stain
  • Sealers
  • Bleach
  • Vinegar
  • Acetone
  • Acid
  • Soap

The bottom line is that some products are just very hard on equipment and will shorten the lifespan of a sprayer no matter what. Flushing and rinsing your sprayer after each use is the best method to avoid premature failure.

Example 2: Pressure and Flow

The other factors that determine if a sprayer is suitable for a task are the pressure and flow that a sprayer can produce. Most sprayers are considered “low pressure”. That means about 100 psi or less. This is adequate for hand sprayers, backpack sprayers, spot sprayers, and boom sprayers of all sizes. Basically, any sprayer where you are even applying a broadcast treatment.

However, if you want to spray tall trees, clean eaves on a building, or reach a target that is several feet away it takes some pressure along with adequate flow to do this. This means pressures upwards of 100 psi, sometimes over 700 psi. But pressure alone does not do the trick, you need adequate flow or the spray pattern can become a mist.

A positive displacement pump like a roller pump or diaphragm pump will produce higher pressure and maintain adequate flow rates compared to a centrifugal pump. You can learn all the specifics in this article on sprayer pumps used for tree spraying.


In conclusion, sprayers are not just for spraying pesticides, they can be tailored to a wide range of applications. Understanding the unique benefits of each type helps ensure you select the right sprayer for your needs, optimizing your efforts in maintaining healthy, productive, and beautiful landscapes.

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.

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