One of the least favourite but essential chores that must be performed regularly in the garden would have to be weeding.
Because they are often attractive, easy-to-grow plants that thrive, weeds can quickly become invasive and destroy other less rigorous plants if they are left unchecked.
The Australian government has produced a national watchlist of plants that should be avoided in your garden at all costs.
If allowed to take root and spread, they quickly turn the backyard into an unkempt mess.
Manager of the government’s National Weeds Strategy Project John Thorp, says, ‘Weeds are any plants growing out of place, such as on paths, in lawns or in a home garden, that a person wishes to control.’
State of origin
Location is key in weed warfare, as species that are classified as a dangerous weed in a particular state or territory may be seen as a welcome garden plant in another.
“Australia is affected in most places by weeds, but they change because we go from the tropics to temperate climates,” says John.
“What may be an indoor plant in Tasmania could easily be considered a weed in the tropics.
“You also get subtropical vines which scramble over canopies.
“They’re a problem, especially in the Macleay River area in New South Wales where they really damage the bushland,” says John.
There are 32 weeds listed by the federal government as having national significance.
Many, including the most common one, lantana, are referred to as garden escapes.
“That is, they’ve literally escaped from the garden,” explains John.
“Birds typically spread the plants by picking up the seeds and flying over the neighbour’s place, dropping a few along the way and eventually heading into bushland.
“The culprits include a range of black birds like the currawongs, which are frugivores.”
Some of the most common backyard plants that turn into weeds this way include the fast-growing asparagus weed, which the birds prey on for their berries.
Other widespread garden weeds are brooms, which come in different coloured varieties but are most common with yellow flowers.
All types of broom, regardless of colour, are prolific seed producers. Cat’s claw creeper, Madeira vine and cacti are also garden weeds.
“Cacti are a major problem if you are in a dry place,” says John.
“Australia was overrun at one time with a type of cactus, the prickly pear. The opuntioid cacti are a whole group of plants that could easily invade entire dry parts of Australia.”
To ensure the plants that are stocked are not dangerous to the environment, every Bunnings store has a Greenlife Buyer.
National Greenlife Buyer David Hardie says one of the key selection criteria is suitability for local climate and conditions.
“Our team also works closely with regulators to ensure we are always stocking the right plants,” he said.
“Bunnings is committed to not selling environmental weeds that may have a negative impact on the natural environment.”
David adds there are now more non- or less-invasive plant cultivars than in the past and recommends the state and territory plant guide at, Grow Me Instead.
To control weeds, there is a wide range of herbicides and weedmats available instore. Mulching is a good way to prevent them occurring in the first place, as is cutting spent flowerheads from plants.