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hello! I've been lurking mostly and decided to post. I'm an 'old' GE garden chatter, so 'hello' to all you familar faces, and to the new ones.

I just don't know what to do with the Sweet Gum tree in the back yard. It's been there for years...close to 30 yrs? way before we moved in. It's large and very prolific. The prickly balls/seeds are everywhere and during every season. And that's the problem. The tree is pretty close to the house (10 ft) and right next to the patio (6 ft ). The backyard is wide but shallow, house to fence. The kids have a play/swingset off to the side of othe tree.

So while the tree does provide wonderful shade, but the seed balls are a mess and get into everything, it's constant clean up. Right next to it, within the next 12 ft, is a large Ash tree. So the back is very shaded, the grass doesn't grow well, and the seed balls cover what grass is there so mowing is a real challenge.

I'm to the point of considering have the Sweet gum taken down. The Ash would probably grow much better, too, tho we have an Ash Bore warning for our area (Ohio), but this tree doesn't have it (yet). The Ash is really beautiful, I hope it is spared. If the Sweet Gum comes down, I could fill out that area with more garden periennials, which I'd love. But my dilemma is that I'm feeling guilty about chopping down the big Sweet Gum.

I need some guidance and ideas!

tx~ lathyrus (Becky)
Hello Becky and Welcome...We had this smae problem at the last house we were in...also right next to the house...It was a never ending clean up of the balls..I would get done cleaning and with in a day I had to begin again...and they take forever to compost I never added them to the pile...Thankfully we moved so that was our salution...besides cutting it down I have no other help foroyu...
Hi Becky,
Glad to have you active and not just lurking;)
I have many sweet gums and have never found an option other than removing the trees. I have chossen to live with my pointy little balls because as you don't, I don't lightly consider taking down trees.When my kids were small we would collect them and make Christmas and Easter ornaments from them. You can also use them like pinecone bird feeders by gluing them in bunches and then smearing them with p-nut butter and seeds. When the tree gives you pointy balls make lemonade LOL
Hi Becky WELCOME to you.
I am so glad that you have decided to stop lurking and join in.
I, personally, would consider removing the tree. It is way too close to the house for the size that it is. Are you financially able to do it? It won't be cheap. The problem is that the internet was not available in those days and most people won't spend money on landscaping and pay someone to tell them what to plant where. An example, in our new house our neighbor planted some pine trees (she doesn't know what they are, or have a lable to give size) right on the property line, in two cases they are on our property. Now, how do you deal with that situation when you are the new guys on the block? I think that most people try to cheap it out and not get advice. They don't realize that advice is free at a garden center, I gave a million dollars worth at my last job. I loved helping people plan perennial gardens, that was my absolute favorite thing. Hubby tells me that they will offer me a job in my new favorite garden center, but I don't want to do weekends anymore, 30 years is enough.
I would get some quotes on removing it and think about removing it, seriously.
In our last house, we had a neighbor that did that too. When the trees grew, the roots invaded our yard and started destroying the fence that I put in.
Thank you all for the warm welcome and responses! I so enjoy gardening along with all the good advice and fellow dirt lovers : ).

It is so close to the house and the roots are a problem with one of the drains going out to the street, too. So it is causing more problems than just the balls. I'm afraid at some point the roots may also push up the brick patio. We had a basement wall that was leaking several years ago (big bucks to fix that) and my suspicion is that these tree roots are part of the problem...this basement wall is the one 'right next to' to this tree. There's also an enormous pine just another 15 ft from the Sweet Gum...really way too many large tree's in the space provided.

The cost for removal is a is expensive. I think the cost would be worth it because of the other potential problems. I wish that tree was off in the side yard :(. I really don't like taking down trees.

Thanks so much!
Hi just saw this thread......I also have a large sweet gum close to the house and their roots DO spread out. I discovered this when I was digging the front garden and severed 3 or 4 roots that were heading towards my house. These subsequently grew suckers and I had to dig them out also. I'm also loath to cut my trees down so I did some research and found that selective pruning of large trees restricts their root growth. After a few phone calls I found a tree lopper or arborist who knew what they were doing and subsequently had the tree selectively pruned, much cheaper than having it removed. I have the tree pruned every 5-10 years or so and it seems to be working as no more surface roots have appeared. It may not work for you but it certainly helped me out.....:)
An attractive tree shape and color wise. I have one in my yard (was here when we moved) and is getting bigger and bigger.

Balls are the least of your problem (can be used in beds and flower pots to keep cats at bay.)

Roots cause severe damage and will continue to get worse. Roto rooter will be a regular once the problem starts.

Unfortunantly some people just stick trees every where.

Now, about your Ash tree, EAB is serious issue here in michigan and spreading. Once you discover the tree is being attact, it is to late.

There are a couple of products out there (costly to do every year), but for now it is the only way to save your tree.

Now you must think twice about removing one and losing the other.

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