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How to Kill Acorns That Are Sprouting

Acorn on tablecloth
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Tip

Don't throw the acorns into your compost or mulch bin, as the heat of the compost won't kill the nuts and they will create new problems when redistributed throughout your garden.

Warning

Systemic herbicide will kill all vegetation, not just acorns. Spray with caution to avoid getting herbicide on plants you wish to keep.

Acorns find their way into your landscape in a variety of ways. You may have an acorn tree nearby, or squirrels and other wildlife may have brought the nuts to your property. The acorns may begin sprouting if given the right environment. This can become a nuisance, especially if you do not want little acorn trees taking over your landscape. Kill and remove the sprouting acorns immediately to prevent future problems with an overabundance of saplings.

Rake the ground to pick up any dormant or sprouting acorns lying on or near the surface. Discard these acorns.

Dig up the sprouting acorns. This method is ideal for gardeners who have a limited amount of sprouting acorns. Slip the pointed end of a shovel into the ground adjacent to the base of an acorn sprout and heave upwards. Alternatively, grasp the acorn sprout at its base with your hands and pull away from the ground.

Spray the sprouting acorns with a systemic herbicide such as glyphosate, available from nurseries and garden stores. This strategy is best for those who have a large amount of sprouting acorns for which digging would take too long. Spray the herbicide directly onto the acorn sprouts' foliage on a dry day. The sprouts will die within 14 days.

Pour boiling water onto the acorns. This method is ideal for those who want an all-natural alternative to herbicide, but works for sprouts that are a few inches tall only. Pour the water directly onto the sprout to kill it.

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