When people fill out forms on our website, we often ask, “Is there a particular problem that you’re trying to deal with?” Often, people share that they’ve got sweet gum trees on their property and they want to know if MasterShield can help with this type of tree.
Sweet gum trees are native to the Southeast through Central Florida, although you’ll find them growing into the Northeastern states as well. Away from their native environment, they’re a common tree to plant as a street tree, particularly in California. (When using sweet gum as a street tree care has to be taken so that their shallow, aggressive roots don’t lift curbs and sidewalks.) Atlanta homeowners looking for gutter guards, you seem to ask about them quite often, and we feel your pain.
Talk to anyone with one on their property or near their home and you’ll find that for all of this tree’s beauty through its shape and attractive fall colors of orange, red, yellow and purple, it’s a very messy tree. It always seems to be dropping something all year long.
In the springtime, sweet gum trees flower and bud. The budding tree drops a lot of sap as well. The blooms turn into persistent fruit throughout the summer and fall. Since the fruit is edible, birds will wind up dropping fruit on the ground.
The real issue comes when the fruit hardens. Sweet gum balls are large, just a little smaller than a golf ball and have sharp spikes. You won’t want to walk around your lawn barefoot where they’ve fallen.
If sweet gum trees grow near your home, their fruit will quickly cause your gutter to fill and clog. Nothing seems to do it as fast as something just smaller than a golf ball! Add to it their leaves in the fall and you’ve got both a tree and a gutter that demands a lot of attention.
Sweet gum trees cause a lot of homeowners to frequently climb up to this tree’s nearest gutter run. Sweet gum balls are a nuisance to hand remove once they’re in your gutters. Touching these spiky balls without heavy leather gloves is frustrating, particularly since they’re of a size that you can’t easily grab a handful.
While MasterShield can’t stop sweet gum trees from dropping lots of spiky fruit, we can keep anything the tree drops from entering your gutters. If your gutter is directly under a sweet gum tree and is susceptible to getting covered with sap ( you’ll see sap drops on the roof as well), in the late spring we suggest using a hose with a hand sprayer to help clean system of excess sap build up (given you only need a hose, you can do this from the safety of the ground). By simply spraying water up onto your roof, you’ll start to water down any thick drops that might be on the system. Our goal is not to let the sap become too hard, particularly if it’s a season where there hasn’t been a lot of rain.
You’ll still have to clean up the fruit from these trees. Wear sturdy shoes and rake the balls into piles. Start by seeing how many you can grab between two rakes. Pick them up and drop them into paper refuse bags. Wearing leather gloves, pick up the rest. To note, it’s not worth using plastic bags, the balls will just find a way to rip the bag and ruin all your hard work.
Somehow, it seems like sweet gum trees are certainly better dealt with from the ground. MasterShield can certainly stop them from ever being an issue for your gutters ever again.
Is there a particular gutter issue or tree you’re trying to deal with? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll try to address it in a future blog.