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Pathway for Invasive Species: Garden Dumping

It’s Wednesday - time for another weekly invasive species post! This week, to keep with our gardening theme, we’ll discuss a major pathway for invasive species, garden dumping.

Purple Loosestrife is the only invader that is regulated by government on PEI. Importing, propagating and selling purple loosestrife is prohibited, as well as collecting purple loosestrife from wild stands for the purpose of growing (PEI Weed Control Act). So, while you may not find purple loosestrife at your local garden centre, many greenhouses and nurseries sell known invasive species to customers.

Gardeners buy invasive species for a number of reasons: they make good groundcovers, they are aesthetically pleasing, or their growing requirements match their garden conditions. Most often invasive species are bought by unsuspecting gardeners that are unaware of the environmental damage invasive plants can cause. Once planted, the invasive plant may grow well for a couple of seasons. However, eventually it will begin to take over the garden and outcompete other species. Suddenly, a beautiful, diverse, garden is transformed into a vast monoculture, and the gardener is left with the task of removing the invasive plant.

Sometimes gardeners will simply pull out the unwanted plants and dump them in a neighboring vacant lot or in a nearby natural area. This is called garden dumping, and it is one pathway through which invasive species are spread.

Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts to help you deal with garden waste:

DO

- Try to plant only regional native species. Native species have naturally adapted to the local environment and are non-invasive.

- Do your research! Verify that the plants you are buying are not invasive.

- Dispose of garden waste properly. Remove all invasive plant material, kill all vegetative parts by leaving it in the sun to dry, and compost the remaining debris.

- Contact local waste management facility if you are unsure of how to handle the invasive plant materials. Start here: http://iwmc.pe.ca/interactivesortingguide.php…

DON’T

- Compost garden waste. Plant pieces and roots may sprout and begin growing in the new location.

- Burn garden waste. Seeds contained in the waste may persist and sprout a new plant

- Dump invasive plants in vacant lots or natural areas. If a plant is invasive in a garden it will most likely be invasive in a natural area. Native plants species may be choked out, and food and habitat sources for wildlife may be diminished.

Happy Gardening!

- Julie-Lynn Zahavich, PEIISC Member

This photo was taken in 2012 on a walk through a designated natural area in Charlottetown. The piles of tree branches and garden waste next to the path are a result of garden dumping from the nearby neighborhood. Included in the debris were invasives, Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) and Periwinkle (Vinca minor), which were already beginning to creep out of the piles and into the surrounding natural area.
This photo was taken in 2012 on a walk through a designated natural area in Charlottetown. The piles of tree branches and garden waste next to the path are a result of garden dumping from the nearby neighborhood. Included in the debris were invasives, Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) and Periwinkle (Vinca minor), which were already beginning to creep out of the piles and into the surrounding natural area.