Sweetgum trees are known for their dark, glossy leaves and their towering height. They have incredible canopies and can provide ample shade for the average backyard. However, sweetgum trees do require quite a lot of care, especially in the form of trimming. If they are not pruned properly, they can become more prone to disease, and they may develop an undesirable shape due to the suckers that grow out of the base of their trunks. So, how do you trim a sweetgum tree properly? To start with, follow these tips.
Do any major trimming in the late winter
Since sweetgum trees are known for being prone to fungal diseases, it is really important to prune them in late winter or very early spring before temperatures rise. There are fewer fungal spores circulating at this time, so the wounds left by pruning are less likely to become infected. There are also fewer insects around that could introduce fungal spores to the wounds. If there is an obvious deadly branch or one that's about to break off, you can trim it regardless of the time of year. But save major pruning and shaping for late winter.
Remove all of the suckers
Suckers are little shoots that the tree sends up from its trunk. If you were to leave them alone, they would become like little, minor trees growing off of and alongside the main sweetgum tree. This might work for trees in nature, but it makes for a really ugly and hard-to-maintain tree in a residential yard. So make sure you remove any and all suckers when you prune the tree. Clip them off flush with the trunk they're growing from.
Don't cut the central leader
If your tree is large and established, this should not be an issue. But if the tree is smaller and still growing, it's an important thing to be mindful of. The central leader is the main, center stem of the tree. You should not cut it back, as it is the source of all other tree growth. Instead, aim to trim the other branches back in a way that keeps growth balanced and uniform around this central leader.
Trimming a sweetgum tree does require some specific attention to detail. With this care, however, your sweetgum tree should grow and remain strong and healthy. Don't hesitate to hire a professional tree trimming company if needed, especially to reach those taller branches.