American Sycamore experience

QueenLlamaSeptember 6, 2013

We moved in to a new house last year. There's a big American Sycamore in back, and another in front. Between June and August, these are shedding bark. Between August and November, they shed leaves. This adds up to a lot of raking and lot of bags of raked stuff. I'd love to be able to turn this into an asset, but so far, it's mostly been a nuisance. Here's what our options seem to be so far:

1) Run over the stuff with the mower and turn it into mulch. Alas, this dulls the mower blade pretty fast. Maybe we should just get in the habit of replacing the blade every month in the summer.

2) Get a light, inexpensive chipper/shredder. Electric, I don't like having gas things around. But these light electric ones seem to have maintenance issues.

3) Get a lawn service? Not in the budget.

4) Set up wire mesh circles to make gigantic bark/leaf compost piles, offending our tidy neighbor. Locate these in parts of the years we are encouraging to go native.

Any thoughts on this?

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Lawn mower blades can be sharpened and balanced. Buy extra so that one can be in the garage waiting to be sharpened while you're out mowing with a fresh blade. Easy to do yourself or have it done for a few dollars.

I'm absolutely all for option #1.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 9:12AM
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Agree with Rhizo-I've done much the same for over thirty years at my place. No sycamores, but lots of other trees. Chopping up leaves/other tree debris with the mower is the way to go!


    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 9:27AM
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Get a bench grinder and some extra blades. Sharpen them yourself and change them. It's worth it to have two nice trees in the yard. If it was my yard, I'd probably pick up the big pieces before mowing.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 2:33PM
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Yes, of course you would not want to chop up larger limbs with the mower. And I agree also, sharpening up mower blades is fast and easy. I even do mine with nothing more than a vice and a file. Takes maybe 15 minutes, all told.

Sycamores are great trees where they are native and well-adapted. We're a little north of their true home range up here but they still grow well. Down in Illinois is where I see nice native groves of this tree. Very worth having, IMO.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 9:14AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I have monster sycamores on my land, and my shade garden is right under the one nearest my house. That sycamore also shelters hornbeams, Black haws, and one Halesia. Yes, it drops small limbs, and leaves, and bark, but it's a great tree for shade gardens because it doesn't have fibrous roots. I grow an enormous range of woodland plants, some native, some not--Trilliums, Erythroniums, Va. Bluebells, Epimediums, gingers, Hellebores, primroses, Dodacatheons, Cimicifugas, Allegheny spurge, and on and on. Take your "lemon" and make great lemonade.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 6:51AM
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