Sweeping Gumballs - The spiny gumballs of the Sweetgum will fall from the tree in early spring. They can be a nuisance if they are near a sidewalk or driveway. The easiest approach is to simply sweep them up periodically and throw them away.
Maintain a year round 2 or 3-inch layer of organic mulch on the root zone of the Sweetgum out as far as the leaf canopy extends. It will help the soil to stay moist, protect the trunk from mowers and trimmers and catch the prickly balls when they fall from the branches. Expand the mulched area, as the tree canopy grows wider. Eventually the constantly decomposing mulch will improve the soil and the tree will not need regular fertilizing.
Sweetgums tolerate heat and drought. You can encourage deep roots by periodically soaking the soil all around the tree.
After the tree has been in place for at least six months, sprinkle some granular slow-acting fertilizer formulated for trees on the mulch for the rain to soak in. Do this annually for 3 or 4years if the tree is in mediocre soil.
In some cases, the Sweetgum will produce “water” sprouts somewhat spontaneously up from the root system of the tree. This is normal behavior for the tree. Some do it more than others. If you cut them off below the surface of the soil, they often reappear. One trick is to wait until the tree has gone dormant in late November or in early December and then cut off the spouts below the surface of the soil with a pruning tool. In some cases, that timing prevents the sprouts from coming back next year.
Sweetgums branch from the ground up in their natural form, but they can be pruned up for more trunk to show. Do your pruning in the winter.