Pick up sweet gum balls by hand. It's the only method that works. Each week, take a basket or bag and pick up any newly fallen gum balls by hand.
Use sweet gum balls as mulch or filler. If you have flower beds full of mulch, add sweet gum balls to the mulch. They don't rot fast, so they keep the bed covered.
Glue gum tree balls onto candle rings or over terra cotta planters.
Make a string bird feeder. String them together on jute, cover with peanut butter, and roll in birdseed.
Sell them on Ebay or Etsy as a craft material. Many people sell them by the pound.
Spray paint them and add glitter to create an ornament to hang on a Christmas tree.
Add them to the bottoms of planting pots to reduce the heft and the need for soil. Just include enough soil to cover the plant's roots.
The sweet gum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua) is a fast growing shade tree with a pyramidal shape native to the Southeastern U.S. Although it can grow up to 100 feet tall, it averages 60 feet tall with a 40-foot spread. Sweet gum trees are known for their spectacular fall color, corky bark, and spiky seed balls. The seed balls appear when the tree is 15 to 20 years old and are a nuisance to some, but are a valuable source of food for wildlife.
Look at tree from a distance of 50 or more feet and determine what limbs need to be cut in order for tree to look healthy and symmetrical.
Cut smaller limbs or suckers that are growing from the root base to below the ground level.
Prune and remove dead limbs, or limbs that are rubbing together or have insect damage.
Cut larger limbs to the collar where they meet the trunk of the tree up to the desired height. Cutting limbs flush with the tree will delay the trees ability to heal and allow undesirable insects to enter the tree.
Step back and look at the tree to see if it is now the desired shape. Resume pruning if needed.
Spray cut areas with pruning paint to protect wounds from insects.
Turn on a chainsaw and cut a ring around the gum tree below the lowest branch. Place the ring at a height that is comfortable for you when holding the chainsaw. Cut the ring deeper than the bark since the bark is what sends the nutrients throughout the tree. Make sure the ring completes a circle around the trunk.
Cut a second ring into the gum tree approximately six inches below the first ring. Again, make sure you cut deeper than the bark.
Remove the bark between the rings with an axe. Chop in a downward motion and peel the bark away from the tree. It is okay if you cut into the trunk of the wood while removing the bark. After removing the bark, the tree leaves will start to die within a few weeks. Although this step is not required to kill the tree, it will help to ensure the tree does not heal and continue to feed nutrients to the leaves.
Rub an ice cube over the chewing gum if it is fresh. This will make the chewing gum hard and brittle so that it is easier to remove.
Scrape and chip away as much of the gum as possible. Use a metal scraper to pry the hardened chewing gum from the concrete.
Saturate the chewing gum stain with denatured alcohol. Allow the alcohol to set on the stain for several minutes.
Use the metal scraper to scrape off more of the chewing gum. Apply more alcohol, as needed, and continue scraping until all of the chewing gum is gone.
Use a household lubricating spray if the chewing gum stain persist. Spray a generous amount of the lubrication directly onto the affected area. Wait a few minutes before scraping the gum off of the concrete with a metal scraper.
Clean the affected area of the concrete with a stiff scrub brush and hot, soapy water. Rinse the concrete clean with plain water.
This is a tall tree (75 feet or more). Leaves resemble maples in their star-like shape; twigs and branches are distinctively ridged; and the fruit is a round, spiky ball. Young trees are narrow, but spread as they mature.
Sun and adequate water are essential. It can grow well in poorly drained, soggy soils but not if the soil is too dry.
Given enough water, this is a fairly trouble-free tree without major problems or diseases.
Fall color is outstanding: a mixture of reds, yellows and plum tones. The spiky fruits are ornamental in winter, as is the textured bark.
Sweetgum is often too large for small gardens; its wood is brittle and branches may break easily (when cut down, they will sprout from the roots). Balls of seeds may be a nuisance underfoot.
Enlist the help of your friends, children or the kids next door to go around and simply pick up all of the sweet gum balls, but wearing gloves is recommended.
Wait until all of the sweet gum balls and leaves have fallen, and rake them up into a large pile and place in lawn bags.
Buy or rent a specialized tool for harvesting nuts, since many of the manufacturers of these machines claim that they will pick up sweet gum balls, as well.
Consider using a commercial chemical that can be sprayed on the tree to stop or decrease the production of sweet gum balls. Ask your local nursery about what options are available.