Preventing Trees from Fruiting
Unwanted fruit on landscape plantings can be a nuisance to homeowners as well as surrounding neighbors. Sweetgum trees are a popular example. With the ball-shaped fruit falling onto streets, sidewalks, and lawns, they can be a nuisance as well as a hazard.
Other popular landscape trees such as oaks and maples, among others, may produce fruit which produces unwanted saplings in home lawns. They also clog drain gutters and can stain driveways. Decaying fruits from apples and crabapples may invite insects or unwanted wildlife to the area.
Unfortunately, there are few good control methods to alleviate the problem of unwanted fruit. There are some products on the market containing ethylene, an aging hormone in plants. When ethylene containing sprays are applied to trees at the right time, fruit will not form. The problem with this application is that it is not always reliable. Timing is critical and limits the success of spraying. In order to reach large trees, a large sprayer is required, making it difficult for most homeowners to apply. These sprays must be done on a yearly basis and can get expensive.
The best solution to combat unwanted fruit is to regularly collect it. If this is not an option, removal of the fruiting trees is recommended. Replace the tree with either a fruitless variety or a different species of tree altogether. Visit a local nursery or garden center to find the best alternative replacement, or call your local county extension office.