Invasive Groundcovers

Learn the Difference

Groundcovers that fill in a space can be a great addition to a garden. They can be used as a border, grown under a shady tree, or even be an alternative to a grass lawn. Unfortunately, some of the common groundcovers used in gardens are invasive, non-native plants. Periwinkle, goutweed (pictured above), lily-of-the-valley, English ivy and creeping Jenny are a few examples of invasive groundcovers. 

When invasive groundcovers spread into a natural area, they outcompete our native plants and reduce the biodiversity and resilience of our forests. Native plants are host plants to many pollinators, including a variety of caterpillars, and they produce berries and seeds that provide energy and nutrients to our birds. Some invasive groundcovers are toxic to local, plant-eating animals and don’t provide the food our pollinators need. Many also don’t produce the berries or seeds that help birds raise their young or provide the amount of nutrients needed for their migration journey. 

Most invasive groundcovers spread through above- or below-ground roots allowing the patch to spread out further and further from the initial planting every year. This type of growth can make it harder to remove from your garden or a natural area because all the roots connecting the plants must be removed as well. In some plants, leaving a small piece of root is enough for the plant to regrow and continue spreading. An animal running through a patch can easily break off a piece of plant or collect seeds on its fur, carrying it to a natural area where it can put down roots and begin to spread. Even contained patches can become an issue if a seed or piece of root makes its way to a nearby forest.

Learn more about invasive species and how to stop the spread.

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