Best Ways To Pick Up Acorns

When fall is near, many homeowners begin to dread not only the leaf clean-up process, but potentially acorn clean-up as well.  If you have acorns, you have an oak tree lingering somewhere near your home. In fact, all oak trees produce acorns which are true nuts.

If you happen to live by mature oak trees, as we suspect most readers do, you likely realize the mess they create. This is especially true if the oak tree is in a high production year known as a mast year. According to Mass Audubon, during a mast year an enormous oak can litter the ground with up to an amazing 10,000 acorns.

While we suspect that most people do not have to clean up near 10,000 acorns in their yard, it probably feels like it at times. Fortunately, there are a few efficient ways to clean up acorns that will hopefully speed up the task. Let’s take at look at those ways.

Rake and Shovel

This is a basic method, but sometimes the simplest ideas work the best. Pull out the largest rake you own and start raking the acorns in a big pile. Then grab a shovel to scoop them up to be placed in a yard waste bag or container. A shovel designed for transferring material like this Ames found on Amazon or this Razor-Back on the Home Depot work the best.

The below video shows this method in action. You can see how quickly acorns can be cleaned up with just a rake and a shovel. In about five minutes you can have the acorns in a large pile and picked up.

In lieu of using a shovel, you can consider trying a pair of leaf scoops. Leaf scoops are giant hand extenders, often with claws, that allow the user to pick up large quantities of debris with their hands. See our article on leaf scoops for more information on this type of tool.

Nut Gatherer

Garden Weasel Small Nut Gatherer - Picks Up Small Acorns, Nuts, Buckeyes, & Other Objects 3/8' To 3/4' in Size, Red/Silver

A nut gatherer is a long handle tool that rolls over acorns and collects them in a steel roller basket. Once the basket is full, you simply empty it out into your yard waste container for disposal.

The Garden Weasel, found here on Amazon and pictured above, is a popular option for collecting acorns, pecans, apples, and other similar items. It is an excellent tool for people seeking to avoid excessive bending while doing yard work.

The downside of this tool is that it is not ideal for a large number of acorns. In other words, it can be extremely time consuming to have to routinely empty the small collector basket as it fills. Additionally, it can take a couple of rolls over the acorns to collect them all up. You’re better off raking and shoveling the acorns or using a faster method discussed below if you have a lot of acorns.

Check out the below video to see how a nut gatherer works. Keep in mind that this is the small version of the Garden Weasel Nut Gatherer. There are larger versions available.


Acorn Picker Upper

Bag-A-Nut 18' Push Pecan Harvester - Also Picks Up Large Acorns, Hazelnuts/Filberts & Almonds - Nut Picker Upper (A5000)

A nut roller, such as the Bag-A-Nut (pictured above), is a much more efficient option compared to a small nut gatherer like the Garden Weasel. The Bag-A-Nut collects nuts in the green roller that spins as the sweeper is pushed forward. The acorns or other nuts are automatically dispensed into the basket from the roller. The basket is easily emptied when full to get the user quickly back to picking up more acorns or doing something more enjoyable.

This video demonstrates how efficiently the Bag-A-Nut collects acorns. Click here to see other sizes of the Bag-A-Nut including a smaller 12-inch model and larger pull behind models.

This is not a cheap option, however, it is something to consider if you anticipate cleaning up a significant quantity of acorns each year for the foreseeable future.

A more affordable lawn sweeper, like this Agri-Fab, can also be considered. While it is made primarily for grass clippings and leaves, some owners of this sweeper have stated that it does a decent job at collecting acorns or nuts that are not buried deep.

Power Broom

A power broom won’t pick up acorns but it will efficiently move them. This is a solid option for getting acorns into a pile or pushing them off the property into a place such as the woods. The video below shows how quickly a high-powered power broom, like a Stihl, will move acorns and other debris. 

Vacuum Them Up

You obviously aren’t going to drag out your Dyson or Bissell carpet vacuum to use on your lawn, but you can consider using a wet/dry shop-vac. The heavy-duty suction power of this type of vacuum will have no problem handling the weight of the acorns.

Admittedly, this can be a time consuming process if you have a lot of acorns since you will have to suck up each acorn individually. You may wish to rake the acorns in a pile first before sucking them up to make the task a bit easier. Of course, verify that the shop-vac can be used outside and around potentially wet terrain.

You may also consider renting a heavy-duty lawn vacuum from a local equipment rental shop. These machine can vary greatly in power so verify with a store representative that the lawn vacuum is powerful enough to suck up acorns. Some are only designed for dry leaves and will leave the acorns and heavier debris behind.

You can try a leaf blower/vac to remove acorns from the yard as well. However, be warned that they often lack the suction power to get the acorns into the collection bag. A common complaint is that the acorns get clogged in the tube. We wouldn’t buy a leaf blower/vac for the primary purpose of picking up acorns; however, it is worth a try if you have one handy for other purposes.

Why Pick Up Acorns?

It may be tempting just to leave the acorns in the yard without cleaning them up. However, there are some things to consider before doing this. Here are a few reason why you should consider picking up acorns:

  • Pests – While acorns are not typically a favorite food of humans, several types of animals love them. If you do not clean up acorns, you will certainly have wildlife feeding off of them. Yes, this could mean cute little chipmunks and deer, but it also could mean often less desirable animals like rodents, wild hogs, and possums
  • Human Danger –  Acorns can present a danger to humans, particularly if they are left on sidewalks and other walking areas. If you opt not to pick up your acorns, you should at least consider cleaning them up where people walk. 
  • Lawn Damage – A large amount of acorns can smoother a lawn and prevent it from receiving essential nutrients. A lawn without proper nutrients can die and leave the homeowner with unsightly areas of dead grass. 
  • Loss of Curb Appeal – A yard littered with acorns is one that can be undesirable in appearance to some people. You’ll have to ask yourself if the appearance of acorns scattered over the yard real matters to you.   
  • Food Source – Acorns are a nut and can be consumed. However, acorns contain tannins that make them bitter and unpleasant to eat straight from the ground. Additionally, raw acorns can be harmful to humans, dogs, and other animals to eat. They must be leached using water to remove the tannins before they are ready to be used as a food source. You can read more about that process and how to use them for food over at Honest Food