Fed up with your messy lawn? You could consider using a lawn sweeper, but do they actually work?
Lawn sweepers do work for picking up dry grass cuttings and leaves, pine cones and acorns to keep your lawn tidy. However, they shouldn’t really be used to sweep up gravel, small stones, or dried-up dog poop.
Let’s dive down into the subject of lawn sweepers in more detail, and discover whether they are worth your money (and what they can pick up if they do work)…
Do Push Lawn Sweepers Work?
A push lawn sweeper (also sometimes called a leaf sweeper) replaces your rake by gathering up bits of debris from your lawn, and most models will do this effectively.
Because push mowers are operated manually, this doesn’t mean that the job will be without effort; however, it can take less time and energy than raking and gathering up lawn debris.
Push mowers have a rotating brush that reaches into the grass to gather up the debris, which goes into an attached bag, like lawn clippings do. You then empty the debris into your compost, leaving you with a tidy lawn, all ready for mowing.
Push lawn sweepers work best in smaller yards. If you have a large space to clear, there are towed sweepers, and we’ll look at those in a moment. There’s also a middle option: a motorized lawn sweeper. They’re about the size of a push lawn sweeper, but you don’t have to do all the work yourself. They’re powered by gas, and their brushes spin at super-fast speeds.
Do Pull Behind Lawn Sweepers Work?
These are normally towed behind a lawn tractor or riding mower. They are the best option if you have a large yard to tend to, as they take a lot of debris. You can still use a push lawn sweeper if you like the exercise, but you’ll need to keep emptying the hopper bag into the compost.
The pull (or tow) behind lawn sweeper simply hooks onto your riding mower or lawn tractor. When it’s time to empty the hopper, many models have a dump feature: just pull a handle, and out it all falls. Just remember to close it up again…
Some models, like the Brinly sweeper in this short film, can dethatch the grass then sweep. You simply have to raise the tines on the detatcher then off you go again, gathering up the clippings and debris with no need to change machines. This shows how handy sweepers can be for large grassed areas.
Pull lawn sweepers are not so good on wet ground, as they can become stuck or cause ruts on the grass. Otherwise, they’re a great choice if you have a large lot to keep tidy.
Don’t forget that push models do come in different sizes. If your yard isn’t the right shape for a riding mower and trailer, you can go for a push lawn sweeper with a broader reach. This will be heavier to push but will require fewer passes to cover the whole area.
Which is Better, a Lawn Sweeper or Bagger?
A bagger simply attaches to the back of your mower and collects the grass clippings as you mow. They come in a range of sizes, and vacuum baggers take the most clippings. They are easy to use, look after, and store away after use.
But – that is pretty much all they do. A lawn sweeper will take care of all sorts of debris on your lawn, from acorns to fallen leaves, but a bagger will simply collect the grass clippings. Like a sweeper, the bagger will struggle with wet grass, so it won’t always collect the clippings, either.
If you have a small yard with few or no trees, a bagger may be sufficient to help keep on top of your lawn. However, if you’re clearing anything more demanding than that, a lawn sweeper is definitely the better buy.
When Should You Use a Lawn Sweeper?
Lawn sweepers are ideal for keeping your lawn tidy. They work best in dry conditions, as wet clippings and leaves can clog up the brush bristles and collection chute.
However, on a crisp Fall day, there’s nothing quite so satisfying as scooping up all those dropped leaves, and putting them in the compost heap or bonfire.
They are a great garden tool if you have trees in your yard, picking up small twigs and cones as well as leaves. If you have pine trees, they’ll also pick up those pesky dropped needles. It may take more than one pass over if you have a thick needle carpet out there, but it should get them eventually.
Lawn sweepers can also be used to tidy a (dry) path or driveway, and will manage a light dusting of snow.
Will a Lawn Sweeper Pick Up Wet Grass Clippings?
Lawn sweepers are a great way of picking up grass clippings if your mower doesn’t have a hopper. However, it’s worth leaving your grass cuttings to dry before you try to pick them up with your sweeper.
Wet grass clippings tend to form into damp clumps. These get caught in the brushes and clog up the bristles, and can also block the collection chute. Most lawn sweepers make light work of dry grass clippings, so wait before you sweep.
It’s also worth asking yourself if you want to sweep up grass cuttings. Many gardeners choose to let them mulch down into the earth, as grass clippings make great fertilizer for the lawn. The exception is if you’ve had to leave a gap between mowings and there’s a lot of grass scattered around. This can actually start to suffocate the blades in the lawn, so long grass clippings are definitely worth tidying up.
Will a Lawn Sweeper Pick Up Leaves
Your lawn sweeper can definitely handle picking up leaves in the Fall, but only when they’re dry (or dry enough).
Like wet grass clippings, damp leaves get clumped together and will clog up the bristles and brushes on your lawn sweeper – so try and pick a dry day in a spell of dry weather before attempting to sweep up large amounts of leaves.
This is easier said than done though, so test a patch of leaf covered lawn to see of your sweeper can handle the amount of moisture in the leaves first.
Will a Lawn Sweeper Pick Up Dog Poop?
Most lawn mowers will pick up dog poop, especially if it’s dry. The big question is: do you really want it to?
Dog poop should really be picked up and disposed of daily, rather than waiting for a sweep-up. Besides, we reckon that most of us would prefer to hygienically scoop up the poop with a shovel and bag, rather than have it smeared over a machine that you then have to clean out.
However, if you accidentally pick some up while sweeping, it shouldn’t harm the sweeper (just make sure you wash out the chute…).
Will a Lawn Sweeper Pick Up Gravel?
A push lawn sweeper may handle small pieces of gravel that have ended up on your lawn, but they’re not designed for solid objects like this, and most definitely won’t manage even a small rock.
A robust pull behind lawn sweeper can cope with tougher debris. They have stronger and more powerful brushes that can even handle the occasional rock. However, walk around your lawn before sweeping and pick up any bits of rock or stones that you can spot.
Will a Lawn Sweeper Pick Up Acorns & Pine Cones?
Lawn sweepers are great for clearing up acorns and pine cones. If you have a few trees in your yard, we’d definitely recommend getting a sweeper to keep on top of things like fallen acorns and cones.
The lawn sweeper will soon become your new best buddy in the Fall. As well as acorns and cones, they can pick up all sorts of fallen leaves, pine needles, and smaller twigs. Just make sure that no larger twigs or small branches get caught up in the brushes.
As we mentioned earlier, lawn sweepers (even the larger more powerful models) work best with dry debris. Wet lawn clippings and leaves that are starting to mulch down will get stuck in the brushes and can even block the collection chute. Choose your moment to sweep your lawn, and the hard-working machine will do a great job for you.
Final Words on Yard Sweepers
In the final analysis, yard and lawn sweepers do work for certain things and are a good idea if you need to pick up dry grass cuttings, pine cones and acorns.
However, a lawn sweeper can’t really handle gravel or even small stones – and although they will pick up dried-out dog mess, should this really be left out on the lawn for long enough to dry out in the first place?!
So yes, lawn sweepers are worth your hard-earned money in certain specific use cases. 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry Jones founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >