I read a great article about the native/invasive plant debate online recently entitled Foreign Invasion: Is Your Garden A Danger? It’s a common topic among green gardeners who are often tempted to add a plant to their garden because of its aesthetic qualities without really giving much thought to what its going to do to their landscape…. or the surrounding landscapes….in the future.
Although there are many plant species out there that can tempt us to invite them home for a visit, some of them can become very pushy and invasive, and getting rid of them can be as difficult as eradicating a visiting houseguest who is already starting to rearrange the furniture in your guest room.
While you may not be too concerned because the problem seems contained to your backyard, Emily DeBolt, who is quoted in the article, says that 80 percent of the plants used in gardens have exceeded their boundaries and taken over roadsides, wetlands and fields.
“With more development, more habitat loss, our gardens are part of the bigger environment, the bigger ecosystems. What we put in our gardens does matter; it’s not just our own space,” DeBolt said.
The article reminds us that invasive plants can be spread in many ways. Birds and other forms of wildlife can eat berries and spread them through the neighborhood through their droppings. And, of course, seeds can be carried by wind, water and humans or animal fur.
And once they take hold, the effects of the non-native plants can adversely affect the environment, economy and human health.
The better alternative, of course, is to choose native plants which are suited for your own site conditions. Native plants generally require less harmful chemicals and supplemental water, which helps to save you money and help protect the environment.
Natives help protect waterways, too, because the deep roots absorb stormwater run-off better than turf grasses and the shallow root systems of ornamental plants.
The article suggests that a few extra precautions should be taken if you do decide to remove some of your invasive plant species.
…if you’ve decided you do want a more eco-friendly garden and wish to rid your garden of the offending plants, pull them out and place them in a black garbage bag. Let it sit in the hot sun until the plant material turns to mush, and dispose of it in the trash. Don’t put the plants out for waste pick up or in a compost pile, and check with your local department of public works for more disposal information.