Weeds and Invasive plants in the Northwest

A glimpse into the world of weeds and invasive plants -- here's what NOT to plant if you live in the Pacific Northwest.

We don't like to think about them, let alone blog about them, but weeds are a fact of gardening. Most of them are dormant right now, but...they're coming ba-ack! What always surprises me is how fast weeds grow in such a short time. You don't dare turn your back.

Plants that reproduce quickly and grow uninhibited tend to crowd out our native plants. This is why they are called invasive plants.

In this blog, we need to face our fear and talk about weeds and invasive plants. Is it even possible to get rid of them...permanently? Well, maybe not, but it is important to try and control invasive weeds as much as possible because they hurt the overall ecology of our Pacific Northwest.

We know it is best to grow a variety of plants. This diversity helps bees, insects, animals, and other plants thrive. Letting invasive weeds take over means you will eventually see an area that showcases only one plant...the invasive, most dominant one.

  • English Ivy

  • The rich, green leaves cascade gently over the ground like a thick, lush blanket. Although pretty, don't let the beauty of this invasive plant deceive you. A thick growth of English Ivy shields the tree from sunlight, causing it to become top heavy. While embedding its branches into the bark of a tree, it hangs on tight until it finally strangles the tree to death and causes it to collapse.

    If you have English Ivy growing in your yard, we suggest you pull it out, or at the least, cut it away from the bottom of your trees.

  • Himalayan Blackberry

  • It is always interesting when we hear of people, who live in other states, planting blackberries in their yard and feeling excited to see them grow. It's hard to believe someone would choose to grow blackberry bushes after all the time we spend trying to rip the stuff out of yards only to have it grow back twice as fast. I love the taste of blackberries and especially blackberry syrup, but they are so invasive in our area they will take over the whole yard if you give them a chance. If you must grow blackberries, make sure they are contained and are covered with netting so the birds are less likely to replant them for you.

  • Scotch Broom

  • Scot's Broom, as it was originally called, came from Europe, but it is trying to make a permanent home in the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately, we have several volunteer groups in King County that organize to rid large areas of this noxious weed. It is a gallant effort and we applaud them. If you are looking for a worthwhile volunteer opportunity, consider joining the Eastside Audubon, United Way's One Day of Caring (in September), or contact King County for weed removal projects.

  • Butterfly Bush

  • This is interesting information provided by the King County website: Butterflies do not lay their eggs on a butterfly bush because it does not have enough nutritional value. It also mentions, the Butterfly Bush caters toinsects that prefer to get their nectar from it rather than neighboring native plants. This means the native plants we want to reproduce are less likely to be pollinated.

Getting rid of weeds and invasive plants

If you are able to keep an invasive weed from taking over and do not have pets that can be harmed by those which are poisonous (that's a topic for another blog), then you probably do not need to remove them completely. If not, you can try and kill them with toxic chemicals, but we don't usually recommend it. We recommend you pull the plants, cover the area with biodegradable landscape cloth (if the area is large enough) and spread with some form of ground cover. You might need to repeat the process in a year or two...but that's the joy of gardening and living in the Pacific Northwest. So watch for seedlings as they tend to pop up in the craziest places, including hundreds of feet away.

Contact Us at Environmental Construction for information about our Garden Stewardship Program and removal of weeds and invasive plants.

Category: Northwest Gardening

Environmental Construction, Inc.

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