7 Invasive Plants to Keep Out of your Yard

Invasive plants can be a pesky problem in your yard, as they tend to spread rapidly and outcompete native species, disrupting the delicate ecosystem.

While these plants may seem harmless at first, they can quickly overtake your garden and negatively affect native plants, animals, and even your property. Addressing these unwelcome invaders is crucial to maintaining a healthy, thriving garden.

To help you identify and tackle these troublemakers, we’ve compiled a list of seven invasive plants you should keep out of your yard. By becoming familiar with these species, you can prevent their spread and protect your garden from unwanted guests.

Awareness and early detection are your best defenses in the battle against invasive plants.

Remember, invasive plants aren’t always easy to spot, so keep a watchful eye on your yard.

Understanding the impact these plants can have and taking action to remove them will not only benefit your garden but also contribute to preserving the integrity of your local ecosystem.

7 Invasive Plants to Keep Out of Your Yard

1. Kudzu

Kudzu is a fast-growing vine that can quickly overwhelm your yard. It can smother and kill other native plants, so it’s crucial to remove it. To control kudzu, you should:

  • Regularly mow or cut the vines
  • Apply herbicide to the stumps
  • Remove the root crowns

2. Giant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed can grow up to 14 feet tall and has a sap that can cause severe skin burns. To prevent it from taking over your yard, you should:

  • Wear protective clothing when handling the plant
  • Dig up young plants, including their roots
  • Dispose of the plants properly

3. Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard spreads rapidly and can crowd out native plants. To control its growth, you can:

  • Hand-pull smaller infestations
  • Cut the flowering stems before they produce seeds
  • Apply herbicides in early spring or late fall

4. Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed has an extensive root system that can damage foundations and walls. To control it, you should:

  • Cut or mow the plants regularly
  • Apply a glyphosate-based herbicide
  • Monitor the area for regrowth

5. Purple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife forms dense stands and displaces native wetland plants. To manage it in your yard, you can:

  • Hand-pull young plants or dig up mature plants
  • Cut flower heads to prevent seed production
  • Consult local authorities for approved biological controls

6. English Ivy

English Ivy may seem attractive, but it’s an aggressive grower that can suffocate native plants. To control English Ivy, you should:

  • Regularly trim and prune the vines
  • Hand-pull young plants
  • Apply herbicides with caution to avoid damaging nearby plants

7. Phragmites

Phragmites can form dense stands that crowd out native marsh species. To control Phragmites in your yard, you can:

  • Cut or mow the plants before they produce seeds
  • Apply herbicides to actively growing stems
  • Replant areas with native vegetation to outcompete Phragmites

By addressing these invasive plants, you can help protect your yard and the native species that thrive in it.

Detecting and Identifying Invasive Plants

Physical Characteristics

When identifying invasive plants in your yard, it’s important to examine their physical characteristics. Look for leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds that may be unique to invasive species. Some common traits of invasive plants include:

  • Leaves: You may notice that invasive plants have leaves with an unusual shape, size, or color compared to native plants.
  • Stems: Invasive plants often have thick, woody, or vine-like stems that allow them to grow rapidly and outcompete native plants.
  • Flowers: The flowers of invasive plants can be very attractive, but they may also produce a large number of seeds, which helps them spread quickly.
  • Seeds: Invasive species can produce seeds with special structures, such as hooks or wings, that allow them to disperse over long distances.

Growth Patterns

Invasive plants often exhibit unique growth patterns that help them outcompete native species. Here are some common growth patterns of invasive plants:

  • Rapid growth: Invasive plants can grow much faster than native plants, allowing them to quickly take over an area.
  • Dense stands: Many invasive plants grow in dense clusters, which can block sunlight and nutrients from reaching nearby native plants.
  • Year-round growth: Some invasive plants continue growing throughout the winter, gaining an advantage over native plants that go dormant during colder months.


Invasive plants can thrive in a variety of habitats, so it’s important to be aware of the types of environments where they’re commonly found. Some possible habitats for invasive plants include:

  • Disturbed areas: Invasive plants often take advantage of areas with disturbed soil, such as construction sites, roadsides, or areas with a history of flooding.
  • Wetlands: Some invasive plant species, like purple loosestrife or water hyacinth, prefer wet conditions and can quickly dominate wetland ecosystems.
  • Forests: Invasive plants like garlic mustard or Japanese barberry can infiltrate forested areas, spreading rapidly under the canopy and displacing native species.

By familiarizing yourself with the physical characteristics, growth patterns, and habitats of invasive plants, you’ll be better equipped to detect and identify these unwanted guests in your yard.

Environmental Impact of Invasive Plants

Biodiversity Loss

When invasive plants enter your yard, they can outcompete native plants for resources, leading to a loss of biodiversity. This means you may see a decrease in the variety of plant species in your yard and the surrounding area. Biodiversity is crucial for maintaining a balanced ecosystem and ensuring the survival of different species.

Negative Effects on Native Species

Invasive plants can negatively impact native species in several ways. For example, they may:

  • Compete with native plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight.
  • Produce chemicals that are toxic to other plants or inhibit their growth (allelopathy).
  • Spread diseases that native plants are not resistant to.

As a result, you may notice a decline in the health and population of native plants in your yard and the local environment.

Ecosystem Disruptions

Invasive plants can also disrupt the balance of the ecosystem in your yard by:

  • Altering the structure and composition of plant communities.
  • Changing nutrient cycling and soil properties.
  • Impacting the habitats of native wildlife by reducing the availability of food and shelter.

These disruptions can have far-reaching effects, and may even lead to a chain reaction affecting multiple species within the ecosystem. By keeping invasive plants out of your yard, you can help maintain the integrity of the environmental balance and support native species.

Methods to Control and Remove Invasive Plants

Manual Removal

Removing invasive plants by hand can be effective, especially for smaller infestations. Be sure to wear gloves and protective clothing to avoid injuries or reactions to plant sap. For shallow-rooted plants, simply pull them out of the ground, taking care to remove all roots.

For plants with deeper roots, use a shovel or garden fork to loosen the soil around the roots before pulling them out.

Chemical Control

If manual removal is not practical or efficient, chemical control can be an option. Use herbicides specifically labeled for the invasive plants you need to control.

Carefully follow the instructions on the product label to ensure proper application and avoid damage to desirable plants.

Also, choose an herbicide with low environmental impact and apply it at the recommended times and rates.

Biological Control

Biological control involves the use of living organisms, such as insects or animals, to help manage invasive plants.

This approach can be a long-term solution, but it requires careful planning and monitoring. Before introducing biological control agents, consult with a local extension office or invasive plant expert to ensure that the agents are appropriate for your specific situation, as they may have unintended consequences on native plants and ecosystems.

Regularly monitor the effectiveness of the biological control agents and adjust your strategy as needed.

Preventing Invasive Plants from Entering Your Yard

Responsible Landscaping

When planning your landscaping, be mindful of the plants you choose. Research the native plants in your area and opt for those over potentially invasive species.

By doing so, you not only make your yard more eco-friendly, but also less likely to develop issues with invasive plants.

Consult local experts, such as nursery staff or extension agents, for advice on which plants to avoid. Additionally, seek out native plant sales and seed exchanges to ensure you select suitable species for your region.

Be cautious when taking plants from friends, family, or the wild, as this can accidentally introduce invasive species to your yard.

Keeping Native Species Intact

To protect your yard from invasive plants, it is crucial to maintain your native species. By preserving the health and balance of your eco-system, you establish a defense against unwanted, invasive plants. Here are a few tips:

  • Regularly inspect your property to spot any potential invasive plants
  • Immediate action is key when an invasive plant is identified – remove and dispose of it properly
  • Use natural barriers like rocks or borders to separate native plants from potentially invasive plants
  • Keep your native plants healthy by providing proper care, which includes adequate watering, pruning, and nourishment

Utilizing these methods, you can successfully maintain your yard free of invasive plants, while enjoying the beauty and benefits of your native species.