Preventing Garden Invasions

I never really thought of weeds as being evil, but occasionally a plant finds its way into your garden and refuses to leave. It turns into a stubborn house guest, spreading its roots through every available patch of dirt, and paying no heed to existing plants in their quest for dominance. You’ll spend an entire season pulling and possibly even spraying, but eventually you’ll see them rearing their ugly heads, almost in defiance.

Ridding your garden of these invasive plants is not just a personal peeve; these pests can smother native plants that provide food and habitats for birds and insects. There are approximately 50,000 non-indigenous species in the United States that have created damage and losses totaling about $137 billion per year. This has become a genuine concern in the State of Oregon, so much so that The Oregon Zoo and the Three Rivers Land Conservancy are publicly campaigning to remove certain invasive plants.

The Oregon Zoo has pledged to remove 20 percent of six of the invasive plants on their property, with a goal of removing 90 percent within 10 years. The culprits they are focusing on include English Ivy, Himalayan blackberry, butterfly bush, traveler’s clematis, Japanese knotweed and drooping sedge.

The Three Rivers Land Conservancy in conjunction with the West Willamette Restoration Partnership, local businesses, government organizations and 15 neighborhood associations is working to create a Backyard Habitat Certification Program. Their intention is to educate and provide incentives to homeowners to rid their yards of ivy, blackberry, knotweed and traveler’s clematis, along with garlic mustard and periwinkle.

Part of their program will involve home visits, handouts, workshops and a three-part certification program that provides signs, gift certificates and event tickets. Incentives are increased based on the percentage of invasive plants removed by homeowners, and the amount of re-planting of native plants. Their goal is to remove ivy from trees in 300 acres and 90 percent of the six plants in 50 acres.

Although a labor intensive solution, the best fight against invasive plants is to pull them out, and keep on pulling until they stop coming up. They need sunlight to survive, the less they get, the harder it is to perpetuate.

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