When fall approaches, trees get ready to go dormant for the winter and revive in the spring. Part of this process is dropping as many seeds as possible. For Oaks, this means acorns.
These large seeds can be a challenge for your yard care. Still, when you integrate acorn cleanup into your autumnal maintenance routine, you’ll be prepared and knowledgeable on dealing with them efficiently.
What Does It Mean When Oak Trees Produce A Lot Of Acorns?
Oak trees drop acorns to reproduce. In nature, plants have to distribute as many seeds as they can in order to have a few of them sprout and grow. Usually, homeowners don’t want volunteer saplings, and when it comes to acorns, these seeds can be a nuisance as soon as they hit the ground.
Some years, Oaks will produce more acorns than others, and the amount of acorns follows an annual pattern that is on a delay (like many things in nature). A tree will bud in early spring, usually after the first frost. If a late frost damages any of the buds, those won’t flower and grow acorns.
A dry summer can also result in fewer buds that reach maturity and can affect the following year’s budding as well. When a tree gets too little water, it will divert more resources to survival and less towards reproduction. A good summer and fall season of rain, not too much or too little, or a good watering over a dry season, will ensure a healthy tree and a fall full of acorns.
Can I Leave Acorns On My Lawn?
When acorns begin to drop onto your lawn, you have several options to clean them up.
You shouldn’t leave them in place for a few reasons:
- They will grow trees – acorns want to become trees, so those that remain in place may germinate and sprout, leaving you with a sapling to pull out. Tree saplings can be mowed over, but acorns can pose problems while still intact.
- They will damage the grass – large and solid, acorns will block the sun from reaching the grasses’ base, and enough of them can cover whole patches of grass. The seeds contain tannic acid, which can leech into the soil as the seed decomposes and may leave the ground too acidic for your grass to thrive.
- They can attract pests and disease – trees are normal habitat for squirrels and many kinds of birds, but acorns will attract many other animals you may not want in the yard, like mice or insects. The acorns may also rot or encourage fungal growth where they decompose.
- Injury to you or machinery – with their hard shells, you don’t want to catch acorns in lawn Like a stone, they can be projectiles or damage your mower’s blades. You might also step on them, potentially hurting your foot or causing a fall.
What Are the Best Ways To Deal With Acorns?
The best way to clean up acorns and dispose of them will be based on your yard and your interest in using the acorns.
- By hand – If you only have one or two oaks in your yard and don’t have or need much yard machinery, you can gather the acorns by hand.
- Rake – You can rake for acorns, and this is the best method for a smaller yard or a small number of oak trees.
- Nut roller / Nut gatherer – You can use one of these tools as an acorn picker upper. These have round wire baskets that you can roll across the ground to gather acorns.
- Lawn sweeper or vacuum – Adding quite a bit of power, lawn sweepers do pick up acorns as an easy way to collect them across large yards with lots of trees.
- Acorn netting – You can set up a mesh net or tarp under the tree when the acorns look ready to fall (when they’re brown, no longer green) and shake the tree to loosen them.
What Do I Do With All The Acorns I Collect?
Acorns provide an excellent source of nutrients as either a food or a compost additive. They can be used as bird feed, or you can prepare, roast, and enjoy them yourself as a fall treat. While you save time not having to shop for them, be sure to let them soak for a while to leach the tannic acid, which will remove any bitterness there may be.
Acorns are a great additive to your home compost since everything that falls from the tree is meant to return to the soil. You can easily add them to a mulcher to grind the shells and seeds with your leaves and the rest of the yard refuse.
The shells can also be manually ground up to add to your compost if you don’t have a mulcher or wood chipper.