Forget kudzu — these common plants will devour your garden

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Forget kudzu — these common plants will devour your garden

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This mint is yummy in drinks, but it will take over your garden for good.

Invasive can be an ugly word, but when attached to plants, it's so scary that Georgia even has a task force — The Georgia Invasive Species Task Force — dedicated to detecting and controlling these runaway, invasive plants.

Still, unsuspecting homeowners unknowingly plant invasive species thinking how nice to have a ground cover that grows so quickly. Later, they curse themselves and the invasive plant that has taken over the yard and is only stopped by the whack of a sharp shovel.

John Newman, president of Classic Landscapes in metro Atlanta, said one person's "invader" is another person's "low maintenance garden." Take Creeping Jenny, a bright green ground cover that some of Newman's commercial clients won't allow on their property.

"I love it because of its color, and it's easy to grow," said Newman, who grows the creeper in pots and window boxes.

Here are some plants on steroids that will take over. If you must use them, because they have beautiful blooms and fill in bare areas quickly, plant them and run!

Golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea): In Georgia, this invasive species can reach 40 feet tall and spread through rhizomes across your yard. Bamboo, however, makes a great screen, and if you're doing the Asian garden thing, it's really a must-have. The best way to grow bamboo is in a concrete bunker — no kidding. Surround the plant with a concrete border 12-18 inches deep, which might just contain the determined plant. If it escapes, mercilessly cut off its young heads as soon as they pop through the ground.

Mint (Mentha): Who doesn't like a sprig of mint in their mojito or julep in summer? But planting mint in your garden is a mistake, unless you want it to be only a mint garden. Mint spreads through runners that quickly break through fences and decorative boarders. Mint has grown through stone walls. If you must plant it, fill a clay pot with mint and grow it on a deck or in a flower box.

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia): This low-growing, invasive plant adds a nice pop of color to borders, pots and window boxes. But Jenny will destroy most plants in her path, spreading by runners and slowly creeping through their space. If you love the look of Creeping Jenny, grow it in the sky, like in a window box or a vertical garden, where it can't easily reach and spread underground.

English ivy (Hedera helix): English ivy growing up stone walls is a classic look that, once, many institutions courted ... until the ivy began eating into their stone and bricks and destroying the mortar that was keeping their walls together. If you love the ivy look, chose Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) instead, said Newman. It's less tenacious.

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