The term “weeds” is commonly used to refer to any undesirable plants, but fails to describe the onslaught of non-native invasive plants we see transforming our landscape today. More than just a gardener’s dilemma, invasive weeds are having a profound impact on the world around us.
It has been estimated that invasive species cost the United States 143 billion dollars per year. These expenses are absorbed by all of us through increased costs of food, forestry products, and livestock feed. We see increased taxes for state and local weed control, decreased property values.
Invasive weeds also have a negative impact on wildlife. Weeds adversely affect our forests and natural areas by replacing the native plants that are important to wildlife. These invasive weeds disrupt complex food webs and alter natural processes which have a ripple effect on a wide variety of wildlife. Ultimately, invasive weed infestation results in land that is severely degraded and less “Oregon-like”.
February 23-28 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week which serves as a reminder of the impact that invasive weeds have on our landscape and on our society. We encourage you to take the opportunity this week to learn how you can help spread the word and not the weeds.
The top 10 WeedWise tips to give invasive weeds the brush-off
- Recognize invasiveness. Look for new or aggressive plants that spread rapidly and displace other vegetation. Familiarize yourself with invasive weeds in your area. Use online resources to learn how to identify invasive weeds or attend local weed watcher trainings available in your area.
- Stop them before they start. Avoid disturbing the ground, and maintain healthy ground cover to prevent many invasive weeds from establishing.
- Know what you grow. Many of our invasive weeds have been introduced by a curious gardener. Research new plantings and only purchase seeds and plants from reputable vendors.
- Start small and finish small. Control invasive weeds when you first see them. By controlling small patches you reduce the time and expenses needed to eradicate them.
- Heed the seed. Prevent invasive weeds from setting seed to reduce the number of weeds in next year. Pull, dig, cut, or spray flowering weeds before they set viable seed. If weeds do set manage to set seed, remove and bag up any seed heads and dispose of them in your trash.
- Don’t spread as you tread. Invasive weeds are most commonly associated with people. Recognize that you could be moving seed around during your day to day activities. If you are traveling through weed infested areas, be sure to clean your shoes, clothing, equipment, and vehicles to prevent spreading invasive weeds to other locations.
- Be patient and diligent. Controlling invasive weeds can be a long term process. It is easy to get discouraged when tackling large infestations, but recognize that controlling invasive weeds gets easier with each subsequent year.
- Report your invasive weeds. Help in the statewide effort to combat invasive weeds. If you spot new and aggressive invaders, report them to your local weed expert through the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline.
- Know when to seek help. Some weeds can be difficult to control and may require particular methods or techniques for eradication efforts to be successfully. Contact your local weed control specialists for assistance.
- Get with the organization. There are many organizations actively working to combat these invasive species. Volunteer at a local park or natural area, or contact organizations like watershed councils and SOLVE to learn about invasive weed removal parties in your area.