Column: Invasive Weeds or Pretty Plants?

Do you have a beautiful problem growing in your yard?

Gardeners are a resourceful bunch; we are great at finding plants that help us create that perfect garden oasis. How often have you participated in a plant or seed exchange, foraged for perennials from friends and family or just saw something beautiful growing along side the road and decided to dig it up and bring it home? Although this is a great way to add to your growing collection of blooms in your yard, do you know what it is that you’re planting?

As a landscaper and garden coach, I am often asked about plants that clients have in their yards. Often the client is not even sure where these plants came from but they have become invasive and are taking over the garden causing the other plants to suffer. More often than not these plants are noxious weeds and are on Alberta’s Invasive plant list. Some of the ones that I see on a regular basis are Creeping Bellflower, Yellow Clematis, Scentless Chamomile, Dame’s Rocket and Oxeye Daisy.

The Alberta Weed Control Act categorize plants into the following:

Prohibited Noxious Weed: Plants in this category are either not currently found in Alberta or are found in few locations such that eradication could be possible. Under the Weed Control Act, a person has the responsibility to destroy a prohibited noxious weed.

Noxious Weed: Plants listed in this category are considered to widely distributed to eradicate. A local authority may conduct control pro- grams for these weeds if they feel they may have significant ecological or economic impact on lands within their municipality.

The full Weed Control Act is available on line at: www.agriculture.alberta.ca

Although not illegal to grow these plants, as a homeowner or occupier you are responsible for the control of any of the noxious weeds that grow on your property. Check with your local municipality or governing body to see what bylaws if any pertain to the control of these plants in your area.

The list is much to long to list here, but you can see the complete list and pictures of each of the plants if you download the Alberta Invasive Plant Identification Guide. Or go to the municipal office and ask for any information, they may have this guide on hand.

www.edmonton.ca/bylaws_licences/PDF/Weed_Identification_Book.pdf

Another good resource to help identify the plants and advice on how to control them is the Alberta Invasive Species Council website.

www.abinvasives.ca

Why is it important to not let these plants get out of control? If let unchecked, these plants can do a tremendous amount of damage to Alberta’s Landscape and to the plants, insects and animals that depend on it.

The negative effects include:

‑reducing the amount of habitat for native species, which then causes problems for our native species of insects, plants fish or animals that rely on the native plants

‑reducing property values for residents and agricultural producers

‑introducing potentially harmful chemicals into the environment in the form of herbicides.

‑increasing expenses for municipalities, producers and property owners.

As gardeners what can you do?

—brush up on your knowledge of these plants so that you will easily recognize them.
—when purchasing plants for your yard, select native species, they thrive in our climate and are beneficial for the province’s bees butterflies, birds, and animals.
—be cautious about buying wildflower seeds, because they may include the seeds of some of the noxious plants.
—if you have any of these plants on your property, do all that you can to remove them and dispose of them properly. Information on the links provided will instruct you on the most effective way to do so. Or hire a professional like myself to come out and give you a hand.

Happy gardening.

Valerie Loseth
The Wheelbarrow Gardener

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