Suggestions for Replacing a Sweet Gum
Hello all! I'm new to the forums but I've been lurking for awhile and appreciate all the knowledge and insight you are all willing to share. We just purchased our first home last summer and we have a large sweet gum tree in the front yard. At first I loved it (knowing absolutely nothing about these particular trees). It's very mature, provides a lot of shade, and when fall started the leaves began to turn. And then the pods started to drop. And drop, and drop and drop. For five months now the horrid tree has been dropping those treacherous pods. Our yard is slightly sloped so walking down to get the mail everyday is a suicide mission. My kids can't even play in the yard. I'm constantly raking up thousands of pods. We've decided that it just isn't worth keeping the tree and we'd like to replace it.
I'm pretty clueless when it comes to these things so I was hoping for some suggestions. I'm not 100% sure which zone I'm in. I've gone to three different maps and they all gave me a different number (between 8-10). I live in southern California (particularly the Ventura County area). The weather here is pretty mild: not too hot, not too cold. I'm hoping to replace the tree with something that is not too messy. It's okay if it drops leaves but I would prefer if it didn't drop pods, nuts, berries, etc. If it grows quickly, that's a bonus since we will be losing a lot of shade. I also wouldn't mind something that flowered but it's not essential.
Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! :)