Property Owners' Responsibilities
Property owners in Brookline can address this problem by avoiding plants that have been found to be non-native invasive plants here, by protecting native plants, planting native plants, and by controlling or removing non-native invasive plants from their property.
Massachusetts Prohibited Plant List
The first step in limiting non-native invasive plants is to be sure that you do not plant them.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources has banned the importation, propagation, and sale of certain non-native invasive plants that have been found to be disruptive in Massachusetts. The Prohibited Plant List was developed in collaboration with the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG).
Check the list of prohibited plants before choosing new plants. Do not buy those plants from out-of-state nurseries. Do not transplant them from other areas, nor accept them from friends and neighbors.
This list, and any list of non-native invasive species, cannot be considered all-inclusive, and may be updated. Keep informed through the links provided.
Protect Native Plants
A simple and satisfying way to protect native plants is to identify any native plants that are already growing on your own property. Places where the soil has not been recently dug or disturbed are likely spots - such as in a wooded area or under long-established shrubs. Check in old, minimally tended perennial beds and along fences or little used parts of your property. It is best to leave these plants in their places, protecting them from disruption. After you learn more about the species and its preferred conditions, you might try to maintain or improve those conditions.
To learn more about identifying native plants, please visit the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plants Database.
Plant Locally Native Plants
Planting native plants - especially those that would have been growing in the Brookline area before modern life disrupted their habitat - is a great way to appreciate and protect them.
In choosing native plants, choose responsibly propagated plants from native plant nurseries. Responsibly propagated native plants are grown from plants already being grown in nurseries - through seeds, cuttings, or divisions. Do not use plants that have been dug from the wild. Plants that are locally native to eastern Massachusetts are the ones that are most valuable to grow in Brookline.
A mowed lawn is not a native habitat. The fertilizers, herbicides, and watering systems that people use on their lawns are specifically designed to help non-native grasses out compete everything else. Removing a section of lawn and replacing it with native grasses or a garden of native plants adds interest to the property while enhancing environmental values.
To learn more about gardening with native plants, please visit the following websites:
- Connecticut Botanical Society
- Native Plant Trust (formerly the New England Wildflower Society)
- Alternatives to Invasive Plants
- Plant Native
Control Non-Native Plants at Home
Property owners who wish to limit the spread of non-native invasive plants can work to identify all the plants on their property, making special effort to identify native plants as well as those plants listed in the Massachusetts Prohibited Plant List. Many native plants closely resemble non-native invasive plants, and it would be a shame to inadvertently destroy the native species.
The Brookline Division of Parks and Open Space website includes a guide to certain non-native invasive plants that are prevalent in town. Learn to recognize them. To learn more about non-native invasive plants currently of particular concern in Brookline, please visit Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE) or see our Guide to Invasive Species in Brookline (PDF).
Methods for Control
Though the town may occasionally use herbicides to handle extensive colonies of non-native invasive plants, this is a technique of last resort. Herbicides should only be applied by a licensed applicator.
The best approach for homeowners are the techniques that are least disruptive, including monitoring and hand-cutting or hand-pulling non-native invasive plants. Established non-native invasive plants can be difficult to eradicate, but ongoing efforts to limit and control them can have good results. Methods for controlling or removing invasive non-native plants are dependent on each species' biology, including the timing of its growth and seed setting. Before attempting to control non-natives learn about each plant.
The easiest way to limit the self-seeding of non-native invasive plants is to cut off and dispose of all the flower heads before the seeds ever ripen. Seedlings can be pulled like weeds. Many non-native invasive plants spread vigorously by roots, runners, or even by small sections of stems that root themselves after having been cut and left on the ground. For such plants, mowing may make matters worse. Some can be readily uprooted; others may require more persistence. Once removed or controlled, ongoing monitoring is necessary.
Disposing of Non-Native Invasive Plants
Proper disposal of non-native plant parts is important, as some can re-root from small cut sections. Seeds may ripen even after a plant is cut, and the seeds may be so small that you do not notice them.
To contain the spread of flowers and seeds, fasten black plastic bags over the plants before uprooting them. Bag up all plant parts, cutting off the roots for good measure. Leave all the plant parts in securely fastened plastic bags or in tightly fastened barrels long enough for them to decompose. When thoroughly dried and decomposed, put the dead material out with your yard waste, in town-approved paper yard waste bags or labeled waste barrels. Remember to remove the black plastic bags first.
Because Brookline is a dense urban area, disposal of invasive plant parts is challenging. Burning is not allowed here, and home composting at high enough heats followed by deep burial is generally not practicable here. Yard waste is not allowed in the regular trash barrels. Unfortunately, the yard waste that we put out in paper bags could escape in transit. It is important to be sure that invasive plants that you have removed are completely incapable of life before putting them out as yard waste.
Monitor for the Re-Appearance of Non-Native Invasive Plants
After working to remove non-native invasive plants, it is important to keep monitoring the spot where they grew. Bare spots invite invasive plants. Planting locally native plants that you can readily identify can make it easier to monitor the spot.
To obtain the latest non-native invasive news and updates, please visit National Invasive Species Information Center or the various additional websites listed on this page.