‘Aggressive’ garden plants to ‘avoid’ – they ‘pierce through walls’

Gardening: How to remove ivy from brickwork and trees

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Aggressive garden plants, also known as invasive plants, are simply those that spread rapidly and are difficult to control. Depending on your landscaping needs, aggressive plants are not always bad. However, to those with a small, organised garden space, aggressive plants can quickly become a nuisance. They can not only cause damage to your garden, but Melvin Cubian, gardening expert at PlantIn, warned that they can also damage your home.

Five garden plants to avoid

1. English ivy 

English ivy grows by spreading runners which climb over and smother anything and everything in their path including buildings, shrubs, and trees.

If you’re a homeowner, you really do not want this plant climbing up your walls. The rootlets will burrow into walls, eventually weakening them to the point of collapse. 

As a ground cover, the quick growth and dense cover shade out native plants and suppress their growth.

Melvin told Express.co.uk: “This trailing vine has an invasive habit, penetrating on rocks, walls, and virtually anything that comes on its path. Armed with suction cup-like puncturing roots, it clings to other plants and can constrict small shrubs and less aggressive species.”

2. Chinese Wisteria 

Wisteria is a gorgeous woody vine that blooms with drooping clusters of bluish purple flowers in spring.

While it looks absolutely stunning growing up walls and other structures, its vines will eventually become heavy and quite massive. The vines can make their way into cracks and crevices, damaging the façades of homes, garages, and sheds.

According to the expert, this plant “grows uncontrollably and can pierce through the walls”, weakening its structure through time. He added: “In a poorly maintained garden, it spreads violently and competes with smaller plants with sunlight and nutrients.”

While gardeners should be prepared for plenty of pruning and maintenance with wisteria, the Chinese variety is especially problematic.

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3. Eucalyptus 

Eucalyptus are tall trees with shallow, spreading roots adapted to the harsh growing conditions in their native Australia. While this may not pose an issue there, in UK gardens the shallow root depth of eucalyptus can become problematic.

Melvin said: “While this fragrant tree sets a calming ambiance to gardens, it is a fast-growing tree species that can damage the house’s foundation and suppress plant growth with its allelopathic properties.”

For gardeners who still want to grow them they should ensure they are carrying out regular pruning to control the size and plant them at a distance from the house.

Since the tree’s lateral roots spread up to over 30 metres out, they can grow into ditches, plumbing pipes and septic tanks, damaging and cracking them.

4. Poplar trees

Homeowners love growing poplar trees because these shoot up fast, bringing shade and beauty into gardens. However, they have very powerful roots that can cause “serious damage”, warned the expert.

“The roots of poplar trees may invade your small garden space and can exert damaging pressure on concrete structures.”

Melvin noted that this shade tree is only recommended to be planted in spacious gardens with “virtually no other buildings nearby”.

Although poplar varieties range in height and breadth, most share some traits that make them easy to recognise. 

For example, you can often distinguish a poplar by its leaves that are often heart-shaped and rimmed with tiny teeth. 

5. Junipers 

Juniper trees and shrubs grow throughout the world, distinguishable for their colourful foliage and cones, the latter of which have green, blue, or purple berries.

While they are not that damaging per se, they may bring “contagious plant diseases” into your garden, warned the expert. 

He said: “It is a known alternate host of rust fungus to complete its life cycle. If you have apples, crab apples, hawthorns, and other plants of the rose family, junipers should be avoided.”

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