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Invasive Plant Problem in Bucks County


Posted: March 13, 2019 by Cynthia Rundatz

As spring approaches and everyone start getting outside to tend to the landscaping – now is the best time to check your property for invasive plants.

Why are plants like non-native honeysuckle, bamboo and kudzu a problem? Among other serious problems:

·         Water: When invasive plants like ivy or clematis dominate the groundcover, there is very little root structure to bind the soils. That’s why large areas dominated by invasive plants are more likely to erode during flood events than areas with a diverse understory of trees and shrubs, which provide more root structure diversity.

·         Biodiversity: Habitat loss and invasive plants are the leading cause of native biodiversity loss. Invasive plant species spread quickly and can displace native plants, prevent native plant growth, and create monocultures. A healthy plant community has a variety of herbs, shrubs, and trees. Invasive plants cause biological pollution by reducing plant species diversity.

·         Tree Cover: Invasive plants can reduce the amount of tree cover by preventing trees from becoming established, causing them to fall down prematurely, or reducing their growth rate. A Harvard University study showed that garlic mustard reduces soil fungi and inhibits the establishment of tree seedlings. Garlic mustard is also a problem because native butterflies lay eggs on garlic mustard and they either die or the caterpillars do not properly grow.

 

What can I do?

According to the PA Department of Conservation and Resources you can take the following steps:

Learning to identify invasive plants is the first step in understanding and combatting the problem. They can be difficult to control. But by taking some steps at home and in the wild, you can help limit the spread of these troublesome plants.

·         Plant natives. The key to controlling invasives is to promote healthy native plant communities. By keeping a native healthy ecosystem on your property, invasives will have less opportunity to invade. Planting native species, using local nurseries that provide native alternatives, and choosing the right species for the site can all help limit invasives. Learn more about planting with natives.

Minimize ground disturbance. Invasive plants thrive on bare soil when native plants have been displaced. By limiting ground disturbance on your property, you can minimize invasives spreading to your area. Also, make sure any fill material you use (rocks, soil, mulch, etc.) is free from weed seeds. This can be a source of invasives on a property.

Use fertilizers wisely. How much fertilizer do you need? You might be giving invasives an advantage by over-fertilizing. First, start with a soil test before applying fertilizer. Instead of chemical fertilizer, try using organic, slow-decomposing compost and mulches. Better yet, make your own compost by saving vegetable peels and table scraps. This saves waste and creates healthy soil.|

Know your property. Check your property often, know what is “normal” and what isn’t. Scouting and monitoring can help find problem species before they take hold. When you notice a problem species, take action.

Act fast. It is most effective to treat invasive populations when they are still small and easily controllable. For instance, do not let invasive plants go to seed. Mechanical removal through digging or cutting is preferred. Large populations of invasives may need to be stopped chemically with spot applications of herbicide by trained individuals or by homeowners carefully following label instructions.

Act fast. It is most effective to treat invasive populations when they are still small and easily controllable. For instance, do not let invasive plants go to seed. Mechanical removal through digging or cutting is preferred. Large populations of invasives may need to be stopped chemically with spot applications of herbicide by trained individuals or by homeowners carefully following label instructions.

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