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Now is the time to remove invasive plants

Author: Barbara Driscoll

This is a good time of year to remove those pesky invasive plants in your yard before too many native plants emerge. And removing them is important since invasive plants spread to wetlands and other natural areas and crowd out our native plants on which birds depend. Japanese honeysuckle, English ivy, and Privet are three of the invasives that are likely to be trying to take over your yard and are easy to find now since they stand out in the landscape before other plants are fully leaved out.

Japanese honeysuckle getting a start

At this time of the year, you won’t mistake the Japanese honeysuckle plants for the native species, which are later to emerge. Plus, you can tell Japanese honeysuckle because the leaves are lobed and the plants are much more extensive. You can pull them up easily, and for those climbing trees, cut them off at the base of the tree and the vines will die and can be pulled off after they dry out.

English ivy not only spreads along the ground, but once it climbs onto a tree it will produce berries that birds will spread. Cut the English ivy at the base where it is climbing trees, and vines on the tree will die.

English ivy climbing trees

Pull up as much as you can that is running along the ground. The new sprouts around the yard are easy to pull up now. As a last resort for large areas, a herbicide may be needed. This link has more detailed instructions: www.wikihow.com/Kill-English-Ivy. Note: Don’t use herbicides near streams or water and be sure to follow the instructions.

Pull up starts of Privet, or, on larger shrubs, manage by cutting the branches to the ground and then immediately spray or paint the top of the cut stem with a 25% solution of glyphosate. The herbicide will be taken into the roots and kill the plant without impacting adjacent plants.

Privet taking over

Also at this time of year, a lot of cool-season annual invasive plants are popping up. Winter cress (pictured) grows close to the ground in rosettes with small white flowers. Once the seeds have set the plant can launch the seeds out for several feet. This is an easy plant to weed out before it spreads. For other invasive annual plants – grab a hoe and scuff up the ground to remove them as they emerge. This is also a good technique to use on Japanese stilt grass (Microstegium vimineum) as it emerges and starts to take over.

For more information on all the species of invasive plants, their threat levels, and how to remove, please go to our website at: www.newhopeaudubon.org/conservation/bird-friendly-certification/invasive-species/

Winter cress
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