We have a few invasive plants that I spoke about recently in a post when we did a large clean up of the yard. I figured I would get into it a bit and tell you all about them. Oddly enough only one of the below three are an actual unwelcome invader. The other two are worth managing as they are quite beautiful and add to the aesthetic of the yard, and will likely do so, even when we are finished landscaping.

Siberian Elm –

These trees are a treat and the one that is not at all welcome. They grow really fast and have millions of dime-sized seeds that snow down upon the ground, and are often carried by the wind for long distances. I have no idea of the actual ratio of how many seeds actually manage to propagate, but it feels like 100% of them do. We call it the weed tree. Their roots go straight down almost as fast growing as the top of the plant. Once you see them growing, it is almost too late. You can’t pull a 3″ growth out by the root. And if there is even the slightest bit of it left in the ground, it will come back.

The large stump in our backyard was a Siberian Elm that the previous owner had cut down. In the first few years we lived here the top of the stump kept growing new branches that we chopped, literally hacking it back to the stump. In fact, when we got the yard cleared of the cedars, we had the company take about 5′ off the top of the stump as we had planned to incorporate the stump itself into the design of the yard. Well guess what? IT CAME BACK! New branches started forming and we were back to hacking it down. We thought that eventually it would have to die from the abuse we put it through. Finally a few years ago we noticed mushrooms growing on the bark and knew that the stump was finally dead. Unfortunately, these trees are everywhere so we still continually battle them all the time when one of the seeds is swept into our yard.

It is often found in abundance around railways, which our city has a lot of. This is due to the fact that these trees do best in well drained, nutrient poor soils with an abundance of light, so the gravel edging to the railway provides ideal conditions. In fact, just 5 or 6 blocks away is a train bridge that goes over the river. There’s tracks that border the neighbourhood by the bridge where these trees can be found. The tracks across the river are also lined with these trees, so with the right winds, we face more seeds. This tree is considered an invasive species where we live and rightfully so.

Virginia Creeper –

Now this one is a tough one, because I actually like the look of this vine and at one point actually considered purchasing some at a local nursery before realizing we already had an abundance of it in the back yard. If I were ever to plant this, it would be in one of our planters out front to cover the trellis and add some dimension to the front planters.

I don’t believe this is something that was intentionally planted in our yard by previous owners as the whole back area was covered in junipers. I feel that this was somehow an accidental spread or planting, but it works out for the most part. Although it is impossible to get rid of, it is very easy to manage. The roots itself are nearly impossible to kill off, but cutting it back keeps it in check. I don’t mind so much that it crawls along the top walls that we built. Originally the area between was going to be a garden bed, but now we will leave it as a path. The vines will be given some leeway to grow on the rock walls, adding a unique look. We do have to watch though, because they do tend to climb the cedars and can choke them out if given enough time to grow and develop. Luckily it is easy to catch since it always pokes its leaves out of the cedar. We just find the vine at the base of the cedar and pull and it slides out easily.

We have also noticed that it sometimes grows in our front yard by those cedars as well, so we keep an eye on it and make sure that they don’t grow much. Ideally we would prefer them not to grow at all up front because it is too close to the power lines, but so far it’s never come close to those.

Creeping Jenny, Morning Glory or Bindweed –

This one goes by a few different names but I find it funny that it is called Creeping Jenny. Seems fitting since Kurt calls me Jenny all the time, and although the weed somewhat annoys me when it is trying to overtake the strawberry tower, I still like the look of it. It is a delicate vine with lots of soft white flowers. Managed, it could be a nice feature that we just let grow.

Currently it grows in abundance where our future gazebo will be. We will see if it manages to come back after we dig out the area, lay sand, gravel and a cement pad and then place our gazebo. If it does, then I will likely add a few panels of trellis that it will be welcome to grow for some added greenery around the seating area.

Like the Virginia Creeper, it is an easy vine to manage. It pulls off of most things easily and the roots are actually pretty easy to pull out. Though, I do believe due to it’s resilience, that if you miss even the smallest piece of root, it will come back easily. Unlike the Virginia Creeper, this one does hold on to lattice and the netting around our strawberries quite well with lots of little vines that grasp and twist around things. I have also read that it will travel underground and pop up elsewhere in the yard it is not successful in growing in it’s original location.

I guess the thing about invasive species is that it is only invasive if you don’t want it there. The Siberian Elm is an invader in our backyard. The other two started off that way, but are becoming part of our garden planning now. So I guess they are turning into a welcomed guest.


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