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Invasive Plant Species and Their Potential Dangers

Scarlet pimpernel
If you are like most homeowners, you probably can't name all the plants, weeds, trees, and flowers on your property. Your lawn is immaculate, your garden is thriving, and you assume that all the flora is living in harmony. Unfortunately, chances are that your yard has a silent threat that is causing damage to it, the nearby wildlife, and even your family: invasive plant species.
Learn about the dangers of invasive plant species and the names of a few that are commonly found in Nevada.
Definition of Invasive Plant Species
For a species of plant, animal, fungus, or bacteria to be considered invasive, it must not be native to an area and be harmful to the plants and animals in that area.
One famous example of a widespread invasive plant is the Kudzu. This vine is native to Asia and the Pacific Islands, but it is currently wreaking havoc across several parts of the United States. The vine grows very quickly and can devastate an ecosystem if left to grow unchecked. Kudzu is currently found in the southern United States, but it is spreading rapidly. 
Risk to Diversity
A healthy, thriving backyard is filled with a variety of plants, shrubs, and in some cases, herbs. The biodiversity helps maintain the soil quality, attracts beneficial animals and insects to the yard, and helps create a beautiful environment. When an invasive species begins to flourish, it can damage the delicate balance that this biodiversity provides.
An invasive plant species will begin to spread quickly and steal the nutrients that the other plants and shrubs need to survive. The more the invasive species flourishes, the more damage it will do to the grass and plants you want to thrive on your property.
Invasive species are particularly dangerous to newly-planted trees, which require adequate water, nutrients, and sunlight to become established. If your backyard has been taken over by an invasive species, it will absorb all the nutrients that tree will need to begin creating an adequate root system to grow. The tree could die prematurely, or if it survives, it may not grow as large as it could otherwise.
Risk of Cheatgrass
The presence of cattle across the United States throughout the years, including Nevada, led to massive overgrazing. As a result, an invasive species called cheatgrass began to grow unchecked, replacing the native sagebrush grass. Cheatgrass finishes its life cycle during the summer months when the fire danger in Nevada is high. Cheatgrass fires are very common throughout the state and can threaten nearby homes and urban areas. 
Risk to Your Wallet
An unexpected risk of invasive plant species is the time and money it costs to eliminate them from your property. In addition to the cost of hiring professionals and purchasing herbicides, you will also need to prepare the soil and replace the plants, trees, or crops that were devastated by the invasive species.
If you have a garden on your property that you rely on to feed your family or for income, the invasive species can be especially devastating.
Invasive Plants of Nevada
Nevada has several invasive plant species, including:
  • Musk thistle
  • Perennial pepperwood
  • Saltcedar
  • Hoary cress
The majority of invasive plant species found in Nevada are weeds. They can be tricky to identify, which is why you need to do your homework. If you're still having trouble, contact a professional in your area to do an assessment of your property to determine if invasive species are present.
The impact of invasive species on the environment, including the environment in your backyard, can be devastating for your lawn, plants, and wallet. If you have any more questions about caring for the landscape on your property, contact the professionals at SummerScape, LLC.

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