Once you know how to spot common and emerging invasive plants, you can head out to your land to try to locate them.
Halting an invasive plant’s takeover of your land is easiest to do when the invasive has just arrived. The more time it has to grow and spread, the tougher it will be to get rid of. That’s why regular monitoring of your property is so important for keeping invasive plants under control.
It’s easy to monitor your property for invasive plants as long as you know what to look for. If you haven’t already, spend some time learning to recognize common invasive plants for your area.
You don’t have to walk every inch of your property to look for invasives, though you can if you want to. Invasive plants tend to show up in certain places first, so checking those areas can help you spot early infestations. Pay closest attention to these high-risk areas of your land:
- Along trails and roadsides
- Along streams
- In recently disturbed areas (such as those affected by fire, storm damage, insect infestation, or a timber harvest)
- Near structures (such as your house, cabin, tree stand, etc.)
If you can, check these areas for invasive plants twice each year. Go out once in the spring and again in the fall. April and November are good months to do these checks, because many invasives leaf out before other native plants and will keep their leaves on longer as well. If you can only do one check a year, that’s ok, but two checks will help you spot infestations faster.
When you find an invasive plant on your property, write down the species and how severe the infestation is using this Invasive Plant Data Sheet. If you have a property map, mark the plant’s location on it as well so you can get an overall view of where invasives have established on your land. It’s also a good idea to take a picture of the invasive plant to help you find it again and to see how it changes over several growing seasons. As you do this monitoring over multiple years, you’ll be able to see the effects of both the invasive plants and any control work you do.
Invasive monitoring is useful not only for finding new infestations before they spread, but also for seeing whether your control work is effective. Visit the sites of invasive control projects annually to check for regrowth, and remove those plants if possible.
If you find a plant that you think might be invasive, but you aren’t sure what it is, take a picture of it and post it on the MyWoodlot forum. Someone may be able to help you with identifying the plant and confirming whether it’s an invasive species.