Invasion of the … Plants?! Invasive Plants to Avoid Planting this Spring

Spring is here, and with it comes weekends full of outdoor activities, gardening, sports and cookouts with friends and family.

If you are like me, after a winter like this one, you’ve been eager to get outside and enjoy your freshly emerging yard. My husband and I purchased our house last spring, but with the move and all of the work that had to be done inside, our yard was left virtually untouched. Over the past few months, as the snow has been slowly retreating, we have been dreaming and scheming about planting our first garden and sprucing up the yard with some new plants.

With so many plant and tree options out there it is hard to know where to begin. With the help of some green thumb friends and co-workers and a few online sources here we’ve compiled a list of greenery that you should never plant in your yard. Some plants will “harmlessly” take over your yard, killing other plants in the process. Others can weaken trees and structures around your home.

Weak structures can be hazardous to your insurance policy, leading to physical damage and even liability claims.

You should also use care when planting trees and shrubs too close to your house. Tree roots can cause all kinds of damage to your plumbing, especially if you have older pipes. Roots can also wreak havoc on walkways and driveways, leading to uneven surfaces and tripping hazards. Willows, American Elms and Silver maples are all trees with invasive root systems and should be planted at least 10 feet from the foundation of your home. Slow growing trees generally tend to have less destructive roots than those that grow quickly.

Ivy and Kudzu are highly invasive plants that will grow on nearly any surface, weakening the structure as they go. Ivy digs its roots deep into siding, brick, and other plants and over time can collapse structures or leave them in extreme disrepair. Kudzu can grow an astonishing one foot per day. I have a beautiful Japanese maple in my yard that was being overtaken by an innocent looking vine of ivy last year. It was amazing how quickly the ivy took over until we came to the rescue with some strong gardening sheers. I have already noticed the ivy growing back this year, so know that it may take a few seasons of pruning to get rid of these types of plants for good.

Bamboo is another highly invasive plant. Some varieties are so determined to take over your entire back yard that they can only be contained by concrete root barriers.

Purple Loosestrife was once used to treat dysentery, but has more recently been nickname the ‘Beautiful killer’ and ‘Marsh monster’ due to its ability to starve out native vegetation and wildlife. Certain kinds of beetles have been helpful in naturally controlling the infestations, but if your garden is being invaded you probably need a faster solution. Dig it up, burn debris or tie it in dark plastic bags to prevent it from spreading in landfills.

While a sprig of mint in your lemonade might be a nice treat, you will pay a big price if you allow mint to grow unfettered in your yard. Mint is relentless in its spreading, through runners it quickly spreads to any moist and partially shaded area. Mint cannot be contained by buried pots, tubs and raised gardens and is best when planted in a container on your deck or indoors on a sunny windowsill.

Chinese Wisteria is beautiful, but has a python-like grip that can twist so tightly around a tree it can kill it. Chinese Wisteria, and its cousin Japanese Wisteria can grow to more than a foot in diameter, forming a thicket that can smother other plants and pull down arbors and other features attached to your home.

Whether you are a novice gardener like myself or a seasoned pro, here’s hoping we have a beautiful spring full of flowers, sunshine and no more snow!

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