Garden Pests Series: I…

Thoughts and musings

Garden Pests Series: I…

Lewis | April 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

…is for Invasive Species.

Out of the garden grievances that have been included in our blog series thus far invasive species are probably the most broadcast in other forms of the media. You may recall a blog post from Oakleigh Manor not too long ago regarding invasive species? Well, put it this way: researching for that blog post was very easy, as information about invasive animal and plant species is very widespread! Today, though, we will focus even more on invasive plants and what you should do if you should find one in your garden. In fact, it isn’t a question of ‘should’; there are Governmental Acts regarding the concept, making certain actions by gardeners illegal if you aren’t careful. So without further ado, let’s crack on.

There are a number of invasive plant species in the UK today. In actual fact, there are just over 1,400 non-native species in this country that have been introduced by humans. Not all of these plants are considered invasive, or have a negative impact; of these species, 8% or 108 of them are considered invasive. However, this should not be viewed as a positive. This 8% of non-natives have the ability to change ecosystems and habitats, have non-biotic effects, lock up nutrients and maybe most frighteningly, outcompete species native to the UK. They can even threaten the long-term survival of these species.

This is a concern that hasn’t just happened overnight; many of these 108 plants that are today considered invasive by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 have been growing here for over a century or so and for the majority of that time there was no warning or indication that they were going to be a problem. The reality is, though, that they are very problematic and can cause damage to the environment, as well as the economy and even human health. They can be very expensive to eradicate and even if doing so is successful, it’s not exactly cheap to restore the habitat it has degraded.

The aforementioned Governmental Act above was passed as the need to control invasive species was recognised.  A number of amendments to the Act have occurred over the years as more species have been recognised to be detrimental. With this in mind, there is a lot for gardeners and horticulturalists alike to consider. For example, if you find Japanese knotweed, you must remove it and burn it, or dispose of it at registered landfill sites. Naturally, planting a known invasive species is against the law, with many banned for sale from vendors. If you are unsure, we recommend you talk to your local council or the Wildlife Trust near you to seek further advice.

However, from gardeners to fellow gardeners, we here Oakleigh Manor have this advice to offer you, with help from the RHS:

  • Use the guidance offered in Defra’s Horticulture Code of Practice;
  • Pay special attention to making sure no invasive aquatic plants are introduced;
  • Take precautions in ensuring they aren’t introduced to the wild further;
  • When destroying or disposing of invasive plant species material, do so in a responsible way; and,
  • Perhaps most importantly, be aware of your garden’s situation and act accordingly.