Avoiding Invasive Exotics in Landscaping
Reston, Virginia has a program for avoiding invasive exotics in landscaping. The community, long known for its approach to green spaces and many trees, has put together some recommendations for homeowners regarding plants they call 'invasive exotics.' These are plants that are not native to the area and whose continued growth may affect the animals or plants around it.
As described in the Reston brochure about Invasive Exotics (Brochure link): 'Invasive exotic plants are non-native species that have been introduced intentionally or accidentally and spread from landscaped areas, gardens and yards into natural areas. Without the wildlife, parasites and disease that control their growth in their native ranges, these plants grow aggressively and overtake our native vegetation. They aren’t “bad” plants, just plants out of place.'
As a homeowner, you are advised to remove these invasive species from your yard and to avoid planting non-natives that could have a negative environmental impact on your yard or the yards and natural spaces that surround it.
So what are the invasive exotics in landscaping that you should be avoiding?
1. Flowering Pear
2. Exotic Bamboos
3.Winged Burning Bush
4. Oriental Bittersweet
5. Chinese and Japanese Wisteria
6. Bush Honeysuckles
7. Japanese Barberry
8. English Ivy
I am not personally familiar with all of these plants, but I am familiar with several of them. The Flowering Pear was planted at almost every new home in Northern Virginia in the late 80s and early 90s. As they are reaching the end of their life span, many of these are now toppling over or splitting. This tree is known as being fast growing, one of the reasons for its popularity, but it also has a very shallow root system. In the past 6 months, I have seen 3 of them fall over in my neighborhood (built in 1994).
Exotic Bamboo can quickly take over a yard and choke out other plant life. It is a 'fun and different' plant, which is why some homeowners plant it, but it is also aggressive and quick spreading. Once it takes hold in your yard, it can be difficult to eradicate.
English Ivy, like the others, is attractive and very aggressive. Many of us like the way it looks...its presence also makes a house feel more established--it is almost like 'comfort food' for the home. It can, however, harm plants and trees around it, so it should be avoided as you plan your landscaping.
There are a number of plants that can be used as substitutes for the plants on this list, avoiding invasive exotics in landscaping: Local nurseries have been educated on Reston Association's stand on invasive exotics and can make suggestions for plants that can be substituted in your landscaping plan.
More information, including ideas for substitute plants, are available on the Reston Association website page about invasive exotics.
Be a good neighbor to the plants and animals in our community, avoid planting Invasive Exotics in your yard the next time you landscape.
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