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Problems With A Sweet Gum Tree

Category Tree Health
Many yards contain sweet gum trees and they can have issues with pests and disease. This guide contains advice about problems with a sweet gum tree.
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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

May 1, 20081 found this helpful

Question:

We have a very large sweet gum tree. A large area of bark has come off the tree and a lot of the roots are exposed. Is this tree dying from the loss of bark? How can I cover up the roots? The roots have ruined my front yard.

Margie

Answer:

Hi Margie,

Sorry to hear about your Sweet Gum tree. The outer layer of bark on a tree functions to protect the living layers that lie just beneath it. This means that any damage sustained to the trunk that results in a substantial loss of bark will certainly have an effect on the performance of the tree. Bark loss that extends all the way around the girth of the tree spells certain death. A large loss limited to one side of the tree may only affect that side of the tree in the same way an amputation would. I would recommend calling a professional tree service to schedule an onsite inspection. They will be able to assess your situation and give you a good idea of your tree's chances for survival.

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Much of the root system of a Sweet Gum tree is shallow (just beneath the surface of the soil. As the tree gets older, the roots become larger around in size and start to push up through the soil. Over time, these exposed roots can lift sidewalks, interfere with mowing, and create a tripping hazard in the yard.

Most tree experts would advise you to NOT cover the exposed roots of your tree with soil. This is because the addition of soil will change drainage patterns around the tree's root zone, thereby changing the way oxygen and water are distributed to the roots. Sudden or severe changes in oxygen availability can spell disaster (even death) to your tree, and given that it may already be in trouble, it's not worth taking the chance. Cutting the roots can have a similar disastrous affect. There is no way to know how much of the root system that tree can afford to lose without adversely affecting it. Any wounds you make in the bark can also create a road in for insects and disease.

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A better solution may be to plant an interesting ground cover nearby that will spread and grow over the roots. A coarse mulch like woodchips may also allow enough air and water to penetrate to the root zone, but again, a professional will be able to better advise you after an onsite visit.

Good luck!

Ellen

Answers

March 25, 20080 found this helpful
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I would call a tree surgeon and ask them.

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July 10, 20110 found this helpful

I have a gum tree in my front yard. Several large branches have fallen off. When I look at the flesh where it has broken off, it is nice and white and shows no sign of disease or being struck by lightening. Now today, another big branch is hanging. The tree looks fine, but I have no idea why these huge branches are falling off. I had to cut the branch up with a chain saw it was so big. What do you think could be causing this?

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By Fonda L

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July 11, 20110 found this helpful
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We finally got rid of the sweet gum tree in our yard. I think it was about 30 years old and such a pain in the. My husband hated it from day one (we've been in the house 2 years now) and finally paid to have it cut down. It was a beautiful shade tree but the sweet gum balls and leaves were just too much! I hope you can save you tree if you want to, but I can't imagine wanting to. Google sweet gum tree and see what people say about this particular pain!

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July 9, 20110 found this helpful

I have what I believe is a sweet gum tree in the front yard. It is July and all of the leaves have turned red. I know this is normal for the fall, but as I said it is July. There is noticeable moss on the bark and a light green flaking moss (?) on most of the branches and it appears to be missing spots of bark on many of the branches. While taking the pictures I also noticed a lot of ant activity and some small holes around the trunk. Is this tree dying? Is there anything I can do? I have included a few pictures. One photo is the tree turning red, one is a look at one of the branches and the last is a closeup of the "mildew" or moss?

Thanks for the input!

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By Ryan

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July 11, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

We finally got rid of the sweet gum tree in our yard. I think it was about 30 years old and such a pain in the. My husband hated it from day one (we've been in the house 2 years now) and finally paid to have it cut down. It was a beautiful shade tree but the sweet gum balls and leaves were just too much! I hope you can save your tree if you want to, but I can't imagine wanting to. Google sweet gum tree and see what people say about this particular pain!

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By 0 found this helpful
July 8, 2014

We always thought our tree had a section that wasn't as green as the rest. Someone said it was chlorosis. We have a limestone rock patio next to it; pH being affected? Also someone said we had borers because of the lines of holes in the bark.

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I thought they were from birds. We do not want to lose this tree :-( It has provided so much shade on our deck and many memories for all our family.

By Pamela

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October 1, 20110 found this helpful

I have two sweet gum trees in my yard about 75 feet apart. This past year, the leaves have not been as dense, and one of the trees had 4-5 large branches die off. I had them removed, and some of the inner wood was blackened. No insect tunnels were noted. This tree is in a rather wet part of the yard except in July-August when we have very hot dry weather. The other is well drained with no limb loss. One non-arborist tree guy suggested carpenter ants, but there is no wood damage or saw dust. What is happening to my trees and what can I do about it? Thanks!

By Brenda L.

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