Invasive Plants in our Backyards




The past few years have seen exponential growth in invasive species in our area. This year has been no exception. Japanese Stilt Grass (JSG), an extremely fast-spreading grass from Asia, has been rapidly expanding in our area for several years now. It was first noted in the Americas in the 1800's, and was thought to have made it here as a form of packing material from overseas shipments. The best time to help reduce its spread is by killing it at the end of the summer (end of Aug/beginning of Sept) just prior to its seed phase. At this stage of it's growth, it gets taller than most of its neighboring plant life and sprouts seed stalks. The seeds are clearly visible at the end of these. It is ideal to cut or pull them just prior to the seeds emerging, as it will not give the plant enough time to grow back and seed again before the weather turns colder. It is best to cull growth from the outer edges of an infestation in. Attached is are two photos of it - one of the leaves, the other of the flower/seed bloom. Due to the sizes of most of our properties, and the extent of its growth, it is easiest to weed-wack it, as hand pulling it on most of our properties is not realistic. Also bear in mind it can take UP TO SEVEN YEARS for the seeds to die off on this plant, so you will need to keep killing it in the same places over the coming years to further prevent its spread. It is an annual though, so if you keep at it there is hope. Left unchecked, this stuff will take over your lawn.

Another invasive I noticed for the first time on my property this year is Black Swallowort. This is a vine like plant that grows along the ground and has seed pods looking like string beans almost. Attached are 2 pictures of that as well. These must be hand pulled, because if you use a weed wacker on them, the seed pods will explode and further propagate the plant. After pulling them they should be put in a bag and thrown out that way, to prevent them spreading to other areas via garbage truck.

Lastly, Japanese Barberry seems to be everywhere around us now. This was originally brought to America as an ornamental, but it too spreads on its own very rapidly. I'm sure you've seen it all over the place. This bush can be more difficult to remove than the other species I mentioned since it is covered in thorns and its roots are VERY deep. I find cutting them to the main stem, then pulling the main stem out with a pickaxe works best. You must get the roots or it can grow back. In addition to crowding out local flora, mice love to hide in them because of the thorny barrier they provide. Mice are one of the best vectors for ticks, so oftentimes you will find increased tick presence around these shrubs as well.

I know nobody likes weeding, and to add more to the list is certainly not what anyone wants, but it is important because these species out-compete native flora and crowd it out. Deer also show no interest in any of them, so they do not help in cropping it back either - which leaves it up to us!