Posted: April 10, 2023

Take a look around your commercial landscape. You will likely notice a variety of different plants, shrubs, and trees, in addition to your turf areas. In fact, you’re likely looking at dozens of plant species.  

When you’re responsible for the maintenance of a commercial landscape, you want to keep everything healthy so it looks good, giving your property that professional and neat appearance. But Mother Nature’s unpredictable weather and budget constraints can make this challenging.  

The good news is there’s a natural way to combat these obstacles: native plants. Native species require less maintenance, and supplemental water and nutrients, making them better choices for your commercial property, budget, and local ecosystem.  

The problem is that non-native or invasive plants have found their way into commercial sites across the country, and you may not even know it. While invasive plants may look attractive, they can be costly to maintain.   

What is an invasive plant? Typically transplants from distant places, invasive species can take over a new area, crowding out desirable plants by stealing their water and nutrients. They can even alter local ecosystems, decreasing overall biodiversity. Not only do invasive plants grow fast and reproduce quickly, but the absence of insects or diseases that may normally keep their numbers in check aren’t present, giving them more power to thrive.  

If you want to check which plants are invasive in your region and find out the latest news on these species, the USDA has a great resource at the National Invasive Species Information Center 

Let’s look at some important things you should know about invasive plants and removing non-native plants so you can better recognize these unwanted species.  

Which Invasives Pose a Threat in My Region? 

Considering the thousands of plant species available, knowing which ones are invasive or not can be challenging. This is why researching plants or hiring a commercial landscape service provider that knows about local plants can ensure you make the best choice for your facility.  

Here are 3 invasive plants to look out for in each region of the country and alternatives to use in their place.  


Avoid these invasive plants in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey: 

  • Bradford/Callery Pear Pyrus calleryana– An ornamental, round-crowned tree, native to Asia. Callery pear often dominates young, regenerating forest areas and inhibits the growth and establishment of native plant species.  
    • Redbud Cercis canadensis 
    • Serviceberry Amelanchier 
    • Yellowwood Cladrastis kentukea
  • Bamboo Phyllostachys aurea, Phyllostachys aureosulcata  – Originally from Asia, this ornamental plant grows quickly and crowds out native species.  
    • American Beautyberry Callicarpa americana
    • Button Bush Cephalanthus occidentalis
    • Oak Leaf Hydrangea Hydrangea quercifolia 
  • Norway Maple Acer platanoides – These hardy trees from Europe are popular for their spectacular fall color. Their shallow roots prevent undergrowth, and their prolific seed production allows them to spread quickly and outcompete native plants.  
    • Shagbark Hickory Carya ovata 
    • Sugar or Black Maple Acer saccharum or Acer nigrum 
    • Canada Red Chokecherry Prunus virginiana 


Watch out for these invasive plants in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland or Delaware:  

  • Burning Bush Euonymus alatus – Native to Northeastern Asia, these shrubs are sought after for their incredible fall color, but they can outcompete native species and threaten ecosystems with their prolific seed production.  
    • Red Chokeberry Prunus virginiana 
    • Virginia Sweetspire Itea virginica 
    • Witherod Viburnum Viburnum nudum 
  • English Ivy Hedera helix– Native to Europe, but seen across the U.S., this vine is used in ground cover and climbing applications. Its rapid spread and ability to thrive in a variety of conditions is a significant threat to native plants.  
    • Climbing Hydrangea Hydrangea petiolaris 
    • Virginia Creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia 
    • Passionflower Vine Passiflora incarnata 
  • Golden Honeysuckle Lonicera × heckrottii – Honeysuckle species are native to several regions of the world, but invasive varieties of these twisting vines can be damaging to native species due to their rapid spread and hardiness.  
    • Aromatic Aster Aster oblongifolius 
    • Purple Coneflower Echinacea 
    • Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa 


Beware of these invasive plants in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska.  

  • Morning Glory Ipomoea purpurea – Native to Europe, North Africa and Asia, this viney plant crowds out and smothers plants as it climbs.  
    • Cross Vine Bignonia capreolata 
    • Trumpet Vine Campsis radicans
    • Wild Potato Vine Ipomoea pandurata 
  • Tree of Heaven Ailanthus altissima – This tree, native to China, is aggressive and fast-growing. It can outcompete slower growing native species and can damage roadways and sidewalks with its root structure. It is also the primary host for spotted lanternfly. 
    • Kousa Dogwood Cornus kousa 
    • Black Walnut Juglans nigra 
    • Yellowwood Cladrastis kentukea 
  • Siberian Elm Ulmus pumila  – Originally from Northern China, Siberia, and Korea, these trees are excellent seed producers. What’s more is they can cross-pollinate with native plants, outcompeting native varieties.  
    • Black Maple Acer nigrum 
    • Hornbeam Carpinus 
    • Shagbark Hickory Carya ovata 


Avoid these invasive plants in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Nevada, and Southern California. 

  • Chinaberry Melia azedarach – Native to Southeastern China, these aggressive trees send out roots that can grow new trees in clusters and crowd out native species.  
    • Devil’s Walking Stick Aralia spinosa 
    • Elderberry Sambucus 
    • Western Soapberry Sapindus saponaria 
  • Scotch Broom Cytisus scoparius – Originally from Europe and North Africa, this plant crowds out native plants. It can also form dense stands that are impenetrable to wildlife.  
    • Wild Lilac Ceanothus 
    • Island Bush Poppy Dendromecon rigida 
    • Parrys Rabbitbrush Ericameria parryi 
  • Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria – Native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia, this plant forms dense clusters that crowd out native species. Each plant can produce millions of seeds each year.  
    • Douglas Spirea Spiraea douglasii 
    • Dense Blazing Star Liatris spicata 
    • Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnata 


Ensure you avoid these invasive plants in Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Northern California 

  • Russian Olive Elaeagnus angustifolia – This Eurasian native forms deep roots and can damage riparian areas. It can also regrow from the root crown, making it extremely difficult to remove.  
    • Highbush Blueberry Vaccinium corymbosum 
    • Witherod Viburnum Viburnum nudum 
    • Winterberry Holly Ilex verticillata 
  • English Holly Ilex aquifolium – Native to Europe and Asia, holly thrives in shade, outcompetes more delicate native plants and suppresses regeneration in forested areas.
    • Tall Oregon Grape Mahonia aquifolium 
    • Red Elderberry Sambucus racemosa 
    • Hairy Manzanita Arctostaphylos hispidula 
  • Scarlet Firethorn Pyracantha – Native to Southern Europe and Western Asia, this plant grows into tangled thickets and chokes out native species in wooded or forested areas. Their seeds are often distributed by birds, which has helped this plant escape cultivation.
    • Bayberry Myrica 
    • Wax Myrtle Myrica cerifera 
    • Winterberry Holly Ilex verticillata 

What To Do If You Already Have Invasive Plants on Your Property? 

If you recognize these non-native plant examples in your commercial landscape, you likely want to seek out an invasive plant removal strategy.  

The good news is there are trained professionals out there who can identify invasive plants and recommend good native alternatives that can thrive in your landscape and balance your ecosystem. Davey’s teams do work like this for the Lake Barrington Shores gated community in Illinois, for instance, if you want to see an example of how it’s done.  

In addition to removal and replacement, you can also control invasive plant species with brush control strategies in the winter months. This can help remove non-native plants, while maintaining beneficial areas like pollinator gardens.  

If you’re looking for a list of low-maintenance, native plants you can rely on, check out our preferred list 

Davey’s commercial landscape professionals can help you control invasives on your facility, as well as install and maintain a healthy, native landscape on your site.  



Commercial Landscape Design
Commercial Landscape Design

Get In Touch With Us

We’re proud to offer comprehensive, expert tree care and landscape maintenance services to commercial properties like yours. Our teams of certified arborists provide outstanding service that only comes from local knowledge, and our staff is trained to help you get the most from your landscapes.

Let's Find What
You're Looking For!