It’s a jungle out there!
Many times, especially in urban areas, a homeowner is faced with a jungle of invasive, non-native plants over-running everything. Some of the common plants in the Southeast are English Ivy, Asian wisteria, Ligustrum or privet, (or both), the non-native mulberry, and Japanese honeysuckle, just to name a few. Bamboo is often common and extremely hard to get rid of. How does one go about getting rid of these invasive plants in order to grow more desirable plants?
There is no easy way. It requires a lot of work and persistence. It does not happen all at once and requires a focused long term program. The first thing to do is to dig out all that you can physically dig out. This is hard, back breaking work. You can be sure that there will be some that you miss. As soon as you see some sprouting back up, you have to remove it quickly. Many of these plant will regenerate from the roots. Any foliage that remains long will recharge the batteries of the roots so to speak. You must keep at it until the roots are exhausted. It is not a once or twice hit and you’re done type of project.
Some achieve more rapid results by spraying the foliage with a chemical brush killer. I prefer to not use chemicals as a general rule but in the case of invasive plants, it can shorten the time-line. These chemicals work best on newer leaves. One way would be to cut everything to the ground and then follow up with a chemical spray once you see new leaves. This process requires you to keep it up with several repeat sprays until the roots have given up and are dead. You can also put the concentrated brush killer on freshly cut stumps to prevent regrowth.
Whatever method you take, you have to be vigilant to be sure your garden stays free of these invasive plants. Vines such as wisteria will creep back in from your neighbor’s yard. Seedlings will pop up and will need to be removed as soon as you can spot them. It is not a battle, it is a war. You have to be in it for the long haul. However it is worth it. You can do your part to keep our native plants and non-invasive exotic plants by being run over by these exotic invasive plants. Future generations will thank you. Most of these plants flourish because there is no natural control to keep them in check. In this case, it has to be human control.