Landscaping isn’t just about picking the right colors, lines, and shapes, it’s also about what you chose to plant. While you will probably opt for color and beauty to make it really pop, you ought to avoid certain plants. Not only those which won’t thrive on your property because of its geographical location and type of climate, but others as well. You should research each choice in order to prevent problems that will later be a reality.
The key to having a great landscape is to plan well in advance of taking-on the project. That’s true of most big jobs, planning ahead and taking into account as many contingencies as possible. While you might not think of everything, you will be able to come up with enough to make the effort really matter. Take into consideration more than style and function and you’ll certainly be glad you took the time to do so.
Types of Plants that Can be Harmful
What should you consider besides style and function? There are actually four kinds of plants that won’t be a good choice: noxious, invasive, unsustainable, and troublesome. If the plants have even one of these qualities, you ought to avoid including them in your landscape. The reasons for this vary, so, let’s look at each one and you’ll quickly understand why this is true.
There are certain plants in this area that can cause skin rashes and irritations lasting a week or more. Most of the human population reacts to these plants, and sensitivity in individuals changes over time. People who have never had a reaction in the past should still avoid these plants, since toxins can build up in an immune system, and after a certain level cause a reaction. —USDA Forest Service
Noxious plants are those which cause health problems, which can range from irritating to serious. Some plants cause allergies to bloom, itchy skin, watery eyes, and congestion. Invasive plants are, of course, do not naturally grow in the area and are oftentimes quite troublesome because they spread aggressively. Unsustainable plants are those which have short lifespans and those which are susceptible to disease. Troublesome plants are those that just aren’t worth the time and effort–these include plants that need a lot of attention to keep looking their best and/or to keep healthy.
Top Landscape Plants to Avoid in Your Yard
There are some plants which don’t belong in residential landscaping. For various reasons, the following plants shouldn’t be part of your landscape:
- Gingko biloba. These trees have been around since the prehistoric times and they do have a certain beauty, growing up-to 70 feet in height. However, the fan-shaped leaves are quite difficult to rake after falling, not because of their size, but their smell. Gingko has an offensive odor, one that sticks to your clothing and follows you back into the house.
- Chinese tallow. Also referred to as popcorn trees, Sapium sebiferum have wonderful shading capacity, and offer eye-popping colors during the fall season. However, their sheer size, up to 40 feet tall and 30 feet wide, make raking leaves a big project. The real problem with Chinese tallow is it’s on the invasive species list and is aggressive about taking away as many resources it can from the competition.
- Sweet gum. Liquidambar styraciflua is native to the eastern United States and it grows up to 60 feet tall. It provides a vast amount of shade but that comfort comes with a price. Sidewalks crack when the surface roots grow out. It also produces a spiny fruit that falls several times during the year. Those same spiny fruit are harmful to pets who might find them all too tempting.
- Mimosa. Albizia julibrissin or the silk tree, is native to Japan, and produces pink flowers. It also grows up to 40 feet in height and thrives under the summer sun. However, the pink flowers and seeds fall everywhere. What’s more, this is an invasive species and will spread if planted.
- Honey locust. Gleditsia triacanthos is a plant that’s native to central eastern portions of the United States. It is known for its ability to grow quickly up to a height of 70 feet. This tree is covered in fern-like leaves, but those only hide the thorns underneath. Should it reach its end-of-life, become damaged, or develop a disease, it will pose a danger if it falls.
- Cottonwood. Populus is a deciduous tree, meaning that its leaves fall seasonally. It thrives in both hot and cold environments and grows fast to heights between 40 feet to 60 feet. Some species of this tree are listed as invasive but the real problem with these is the sticky sap cotton pods are nothing short of a nuisance.
- Linden. Also known as basswood, Tilia are also deciduous trees that grow 60 feet high and native to the eastern part of the country. Like cottonwood, it is sappy and attracts aphids, but the sap presents a host of problems.