I was recently shopping for plants for my shady yard, and after a quick discussion with a friendly nursery employee, I had two seemingly great options: Periwinkle and English Ivy.  They would cover the area fast and would thrive even in the low-light conditions I described. There was one problem: they are both invasive plants. 

An invasive plant is a non-native species that spreads rapidly through an ecosystem, often choking-out native vegetation.  Many invasive plants leaf-out earlier than their native counterparts, blocking much-needed sunlight, and making it more challenging for seeds to germinate.  Unfortunately, it is very easy to purchase invasive plants for your yard or garden, as many nurseries still carry them.  Here are a few you should avoid planting if at all possible: Bishop’s Weed (also called Snow on the Mountain), Periwinkle (aka vinca), English Ivy, Callery Pear, Japanese Barberry, European Privet, Japanese Honeysuckle vine, and Multiflora Rose. 

While often slower growing, there are many native plant options for your yard.  There are even nurseries here in Pittsburgh that specialize in them. So, lend nature a hand, and think native when it comes to landscaping!

Lindsey Rose Flowers

Restoration and Stewardship Coordinator