Invasive—in other words, non-native—plants cover a wide range of uses, as well as presenting a number of problems depending on their growth characteristics. We tend not to think of our own grass as invasive, but many professional landscaping companies seed new lawns with Kentucky bluegrass, a lush grass not native to many regions where it is employed. Though it provides the vibrant green hue and dense growth that makes for a beautiful lawn, Kentucky bluegrass also requires higher levels of water to sustain its appearance. This has produced problems for municipalities (namely, water and grass variety restrictions) in arid areas.
Invasive plants of course vary by region. Some are introduced accidentally, while others are brought for specific purposes, such as increased disease or pest resistance. The trait that all invasive plant species share in common, however, is their ability to reproduce and spread aggressively when introduced to their new environments. This can be a result of several factors, one of which is the lack of natural weather “controls,” the specific combination of sunlight, rain, and soil fertility that kept the plants’ growth in check in its native environment. In a new environment, these characteristics may be much better suited for the growth of the invasive species. There can also be a lack of competition for the invasive plant species, meaning that there are no native plant species capable of challenging or inhibiting its spread. Finally, a lack of native diseases, pests, and predators can send an invasive plant species into overdrive.
Homeowners concerned with the presence of invasive species in their landscape have several options. Knowledge is the first barrier against an out-of-control invasive species. DIY landscapers are advised to consult local garden centers, horticultural groups, and plant nurseries to learn about what kind of invasive species are already in the area and which native plants are threatened by them. Homeowners can learn to recognize invasive species at their first appearance and then uproot them or notify local horticultural groups to gather information about the most effective control methods. Leaving the local landscape as undisturbed as possible also helps to keep native species in control. Massive excavation, grading of land, or complete lawn removal allows aggressive invasive species a new foothold in the local landscape. By making careful, planned adjustments to their land, homeowners can help reduce this risk. DIY landscapers can also incorporate hardier native plants into their landscaping design. This will make for a healthy, sustainable landscape as well as help to keep invasive species at bay.
Tags: invasive, species, plant, landscape, homeowner, DIY