Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata
), a nonnative invasive plant in the U.S., can be found growing in many backyards. Garlic mustard by Wendell Smith
To Pull or Not to Pull: Controlling Nonnative Invasive Plants in Your Backyard Habitat
As spring approaches, we start looking forward to the growing season and seeing our backyard habitats transition into a lush and colorful landscape. Springtime growth may also turn up one or more nonnative invasive plants, which can be difficult to manage as they have the tendency and tenacity to overtake many native plants that are beneficial to wildlife.
Controlling nonnative invasive plants on your property usually means a lot of hard work throughout the growing season, which makes many homeowners feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Don’t give up! The timing of your control efforts plays an important role in hindering invasive plant growth and spread, and springtime management can have a big impact. We've compiled a list of springtime control strategies to help you keep your sanity while achieving your goals for your backyard habitat:
Do you have garden success stories that involve invasive plant control? Need more advice on the best ways to manage certain invasive plants? Please join the conversation with YardMap's Community, and find out what is and isn't working in other backyard habitats. Happy gardening!
- During spring, plants are putting all their energy and resources into growing up and out, and if you cut them back (or mow, or pull) repeatedly, you will thwart their growth by exhausting them. Try to pull, cut, or mow at the base of the plants (where they emerge from the ground, including vines). Hand pulling works best when the soil is moist, so try this activity after a good rain and you might even be able to pull the root system out.
- Consistency and repetition are required to see results, so make sure you get out and cut back new growth every 1-2 weeks. This is especially important because some nonnative invasive plants respond with fervor to control efforts, so try not to let a few weeks go by without checking and cutting plants.
- If possible, dig plants out of the ground to remove the root system. This can be tricky because many invasive plant species can regenerate from a tiny bit of root that may remain in the ground.
- If flowers form, deadhead (pull flower off of stem) before seeds develop. Please note, we only advise deadheading nonnative invasive species, not native species.
- If seeds have developed, carefully collect seeds by placing a plastic bag underneath the plant and tap seeds into the bag or snip the entire seed head. Close the bag tightly and throw away in the garbage. Do not toss seeds into a compost bin or take to the curb with other yard waste, as this may end up in a municipal mulch pile where it may spread even further.
- When you have a major invasion of a nonnative invasive plant like garlic mustard, spotted knapweed, or a vine like sweet autumn virginsbower, you’ll need to pull or cut plants each spring for several years to come because they disperse seeds prolifically and will continue to grow new plants from a well-stocked seed bank.
- To avoid feeling overwhelmed, start small and expand your efforts. Try to pick one small area of your yard to begin working in, or choose one non-native invasive plant to target.
Give your native plants, like this purple coneflower, a fighting chance by pulling nonnative invasive plants this spring. Purple coneflowers by normanack.
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