Naturespeak: Dumping garden waste not as eco-friendly as you might think
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- YELLOW LAMIUM Yellow Lamium is highly invasive and small fragments easily take root when dumped into a nearby forest or over the side of a dike.
It's that time of year again, and many of you with a green thumb will be looking for somewhere to dispose of your garden green waste.
I can dump my garden clippings and lawn trimmings over my back fence, right? Aren't I just feeding it back into the ecosystem where it will decompose and turn into dirt? And aren't I being extra green reducing my carbon footprint by saving a trip to the dump?
Unfortunately, disposing of garden waste over the fence or into the nearby forest, is one of the main ways that invasive plants are dispersed and spread, creating a heap of problems bigger than the waste you tossed.
Many of the pretty plants growing in your yard are non-native, exotic species planted for landscaping purposes.
Plants in gardens and yards are often chosen for their resilience to environmental conditions, fast growth, or ability to climb up fences or cover large areas of exposed ground.
The characteristics that make them attractive to gardeners are also what allow them to invade and negatively impact our natural ecosystems.
Japanese Knotweed is a fast growing plant that aggressively invades ecosystems by shading and outcompeting native species. It causes erosion and damages foundations and infrastructure with its aggressive root system. Knotweed is found throughout Squamish residential areas, and is able to sprout from a tiny piece of stem or root the size of your fingernail.
Tossing a bag of garden waste containing even the smallest of fragments can cause a new infestation.
Yellow Lamium is found in many planters and hanging baskets. It spreads by runner and rhizome, and plant clippings easily take root when dumped onto the ground.
Many trails and parks behind residential areas in the Sea to Sky have been taken over by Lamium, which creeps across the forest floor, smothering the native plant understory.
Highly tolerant of shade, its growth knows no limit.
The Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council field crews and volunteers work hard all summer removing invasive plants like Lamium and Knotweed that are causing problems just beyond our backyards. Many of these infestations originated from a mound of old garden waste.
Not only is the dumping of garden waste environmentally damaging, it is also illegal. Bylaws in Squamish, Whistler, and Pemberton all prohibit the action and are enforceable with fines.
So, what should I do with my garden waste?