Sweetgum balls litter the lawn
The bane of my existence these last few weeks has been the sweetgum balls that fell in the yard over the winter. I'd thought the white willows we had in our garden in England were noxious; I've found there is something worse. Much worse.
The American Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is a truly horrible species. If you notice one growing on your property, burn it to the ground; you'll thank me later. It will produce millions of the golf ball sized seed pods that only Martha Stewart could love.
Seriously, if I saw a wreath made of those nasty pods, I'd send it back to the hell hole from which it came.
At first it was just a few dozen gum balls in the fall. I made a game of it, picking up a couple dozen every time I went out with the dog. But then the first snowfall came, along with the wind. We heard a curious pounding on the roof all night and the next morning the ground was covered with the noxious pods. It was hard to walk without stepping on them and turning an ankle. But with snow on the ground during most of January and February, they weren't exactly my number one problem.
But then the snow melted and the balls were still covering the ground, a prickly, unsightly carpet. And the ground was saturated with winter's bounty of rain and melted snow.
Of course I turned to Google to sort it out, and discovered a product called Snipper. It contains indole–3-butyric acid, a deflowering agent, that, if applied at just the right time, will prevent the balls from forming.
De-flowering a tree
I ordered a set of 25 capsules, which cost around $140. We waited until the new buds were about an inch long, checking every day with the binoculars. (This website gave us a clue as to what to look for.) Then my husband drilled 25 holes around the base of the tree, four inches apart, and inserted the capsules. Some of them leaked outside the trunk, but hopefully enough of them were properly injected into the trunk to prevent the spawn of the devil from forming.
If this doesn't work, we're going to cut down the tree. It's closest to the house, and if we get a wind storm it could land in our bedroom, crushing us dead. That tree is just evil enough to do it, too.
Meanwhile, I have to figure out how to get them off the ground. I've slowly been raking and sacking them, but it's about ten times as difficult as raking leaves. I would hire a lawn service, but they all want a seasonal contract to even come out.
The Spawn of the Devil
The photo above represents a small area of gum balls. Multiply this times a dozen or more and you'll see what kind of weekend we'll be having.
Meanwhile, if anyone wants to make a wreath or some ugly crap like that with these bits of nastiness, I'd be happy to work out a deal.