Sweet gum trees are native to southern Illinois in the United States, but can be found all over the world. With their tall, straight stature, streak-patterned wood and glossy leaves that become vibrantly colourful in the autumn, sweet gum trees are attractive additions to any front garden. However, their beauty does not come without a price. The sticky balls that grow on the trees’ branches eventually harden and fall to the ground between December and April. These brown, spiky balls are a hazard to anyone with bare feet, small children and animals. Maintain your garden by removing these ugly sweet gum balls.
Things you need
- Gardening gloves
- Plastic container
- Rolling nut picker-upper
Pick up the sweet gum balls by hand while wearing a pair of gardening gloves. To make this job faster, have friends, family members and neighbours help you. Place the balls in a plastic container.
Rake the sweet gum balls into a pile with a standard leaf rake. Put the spiny balls to good use by using them as a mulch to keep pests like slugs, snails and rabbits out of your garden.
Roll over your lawn with a rolling nut picker-upper like the Nut Wizard or Pecan Picker Upper. These devices are typically made up of rounded cages attached to a long handle, so you do not have to bend over to pick up nuts or sweet gum balls from your lawn.
Donate your sweet gum balls to fellow gardeners or crafty neighbours. Dried sweet gum balls can be used in craft projects like ornament making or home decorations.
Burn the remaining unwanted sweet gum balls. These spiny balls are good fire starters.
Place the collected sweet gum balls in areas where dogs or cats mark their territory on your lawn. This is a natural way to repel animals from marking.
Reuse or dispose
Tips and warnings
- Make a game of picking up sweet gum balls with your children by having a contest to see who can gather the most. Ensure they are wearing long trousers, protective shoes and gloves.
- During the holidays, have your kids paint and decorate dried sweet gum balls while wearing protective gloves. Thread a loop of fishing line through the ball to make a festive ornament.
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