Invasives are plants, vines, shrubs and trees, that are spreading in such a way that they deprive whole areas of their natural vegetation. Many invasives are exotic plants, introduced to our gardens or by accident, brought here from another continent. These exotic species have little or no relationship with our wildlife and have no natural predators, so they can spread undisturbed. It can take hundreds of years before insects and animals adapt to these species. Invasives cause loss of biodiversity, habitat degradation and other ecological and economical consequences. Invasive can be invasive in some areas, yet modest or non existent in others, depending on their specific needs.

The strategy we need to fight these invasives is basically the same as the strategy against garden weeds. Yet invasives require more urgent and immediate action, not just by homeowners but also by municipalities and park managers.

Weeding and the management of invasives is a important practice for landscapers who want to offer more sustainable practices. The more frequent visits that were necessary for conventional lawn maintenance,  can be replaced with invasives management, which requires more time but can be done less frequently. Weeding can be done on those days when the lawn doesn’t need mowing or when the ground is too wet for mowing.

Weeding of invasive perennials needs to be done when the soil is still soft and the plants still easy to pull. Annuals can be weeded later, after growth but before flowering and seeding.

Here are the most common invasives in the northeast. Please go online and familiarize yourself with all their phases of growth so you can recognize them easily.

Garlic Mustard

Japanese Stilt Grass

Rosa Multiflora

Japanese Honeysuckle

Oriental Bittersweet

Porcelain Berry



Burning Bush

Japanese Barberry

Ligustrum (Privet)

Japanese Knot Weed

It is tempting to save time with an fast spreading groundcovers. But not all groundcovers create a healthy habitat. They can become invasive, and once the have started to grow they are often very difficult to remove. Exotic species like japanese pachysandra offer little wildlife value, but can become habitats for more resilient bugs, like ticks and mosquitos. Try to find alternatives for the following groundcovers, or make sure they remain contained:

Jap. Pachyssandra

English Ivy


Bishop’s Weed

Bugle Weed

Yellow Lamium