Creating More Living Space Outdoors

Attractive Alternatives To Four Common And Invasive Landscaping Plants

by Emily Flores

As you plan out a landscaping project for your yard or garden, you will need to carefully consider which plants to place where. Unfortunately, some of the most popular landscaping plants in use today are also aggressively invasive, spreading to native ecosystems and choking out their competition due to a lack of natural pressures. Rather than give these invasive species a chance to gain a foothold in your area, consider these more containable alternatives. 


Bamboo is widely appreciated for its serene beauty and quick growth, but it has a tendency to quickly escape its intended confines and can grow several feet in a single day. If you want a narrow privacy screen, Irish yew, Irish juniper or other similar upright conifers are a better option. On the East Coast, there is actually a native species of bamboo known as canebrake bamboo, the habitat of which is slowly shrinking due to human intrusion. As a result, planting canebrake bamboo in your yard may help local wildlife rather than harming it while still providing the peaceful privacy of bamboo.  

English Ivy

English ivy is famed for crawling up majestic brick edifices, but you may also have noticed it choking out the trees in your local forest. This ivy is particularly invasive in the Pacific Northwest, but it and other ivies like kudzu can be found crawling over trees and infrastructure nationwide. For a climbing alternative, consider varieties of honeysuckle or clematis instead. Creeping mint and creeping phlox are a better choice for groundcover plants. 

Weeping Lovegrass

Weeping lovegrass is an ornamental grass originally hailing from Africa. It does well in desert environments where other plants would struggle, and it is less preferred by grazing animals than its native counterparts. This has all combined to make weeping lovegrass a potent invasive species in the drier parts of the United States, and it poses a serious fire hazard as well. Try planting native grasses in your yard for the same effect, such as sweet grass or Indiangrass. 

Winged Burning Bush

Winged burning bush is popular for its vibrant red foliage and hardiness, but its seeds are quickly transmitted by birds, and it can take over fragile ecosystems within just a few years. If you want a shrub that will turn bronze or red in the fall, consider the common highbush blueberry, which will not only add a splash of autumn color to your yard but also provide you with many delicious berries beforehand. By choosing to avoid invasive species in favor of less easily spread or native plants, you can do your part to preserve your local environment without sacrificing the beauty of your landscaping in the process.