how do i keep sweet gum trees out my woods

Hello Garrett,

One of the foresters in our network, Kevin Coffman, provided the answer to this question:

Without knowing more specifics such as size of the sweetgum trees, surrounding species, and specific landowner objectives my advice would be very general. Keeping sweetgum out of a stand will be difficult at best since it is very prolific in sprouting. It can sprout from the stump, from root stock, as well as seed bank contained in the soil. Probably the best way to initially kill sweetgum is with a chemical called Arsenal. Depending on the size of the trees it can be injected or if small seedling/sapling size the trees can be cut then this chemical (or something similar) can be sprayed over the top of the newly cut seedlings. This will effectively kill the sweetgum, however the label must be followed exactly and application from a reputable applicator is highly recommended. Also, be aware that this particular chemical can “flash-over” meaning that this chemical can spread from the sweetgum to other hardwood root systems and kill them as well, so keep this in mind if you have other hardwood species (that you want to keep) growing in close proximity to the treated sweetgum. Keeping the sweetgum from ever coming back will be difficult and several chemical treatments over time may be required to keep it in check which could be cost prohibitive. Also keep in mind that chemicals are not selective between hardwood species, however they are between hardwood and pine for example so depending on your specific situation and objectives chemical treatments may or may not be something to pursue. When using any type of chemical treatments always consult a knowledgeable agent who is trained in forest chemical use and be specific about what your goals and objectives are to find the right application for your situation. Sweetgum can be cut obviously, but this can be labor intensive and cost prohibitive as well based on the landowners specific situation. Also, the sprouting nature of sweetgum makes it a sure bet that it will grow back rather quickly and keeping it completely out of your woods may require direct control over several years or more to accomplish.

Hope this helps. Without more specific information it is difficult to advise anything precise.