The challenges for commercial businesses dealing with invasive plants
By Jennifer Holmes

The challenges for commercial businesses dealing with invasive plants


Invasive plants pose a range of significant threats to commercial businesses. Here we explain what these challenges are and how to overcome them.

Spread and overgrowth

Let’s start with explaining what makes a plant ‘invasive’. By their very nature invasive plants will grow rapidly, and because they often grow at a faster pace than native plants this gives them the competitive advantage. Plants such as Himalayan balsam, Ragwort and Goldenrod will engulf entire swathes of land, forming dense colonies that endanger and eventually deplete other plants struggling to survive in a changed ecosystem. The picture above shows early Giant hogweed colonising a forest area.

When commercial businesses experience this invasive weed infestation on their land or property it may be initially manageable, but without professional guidance or services these plants will get out of hand within a year. When this happens the task of control or eradication becomes more costly and on a larger scale.


Take control before the plants do. It’s easy to have your land surveyed yearly, and at the right time of year to catch any pre-growth season shoots.

Difficult to control or get rid of

How can I get of Horsetail (shown above) on my business premises or green spaces? Can I treat Giant hogweed myself? These are just two examples of challenges commercial businesses may consider but this can prove risky. Each invasive plant species needs specific treatment or handling which only specialists will know. Some plants can be treated with herbicide – but not all are suitable for application by spraying, some require a different technique, and some respond better to manual or mechanical methods. Then there’s the issue of getting rid of the plant material if it’s classed as ‘controlled waste’. So the challenge is having the knowledge, licenses, qualifications and equipment.

Why is this important?

Many invasive plants (such as Variegated yellow archangel) grow via rhizomatous systems – extensive underground root networks that if disturbed (by digging for example) will form new shoots and increase the area of infestation. This means that any treatment or excavation work must be carried out by experts who will avoid any risk.


It’s always advisable to contact a professional contractor when dealing with invasive plants. At the very least they will be able to identify what the suspect plant is and then quote for treatment or removal options.

Financial pressure

Discovering the presence of invasive plants is not what any business wants. Often first thoughts will go to the cost of treatment or removal. For construction projects certain noxious plants will need to be cordoned off and the project put on hold – which will impact project planning and delivery as well as financial implications. Water weeds (such as Parrot’s feather shown above on a survey) in particular can be a longer term project if left to infest waterways as dredging may be required.


Invasive plant infections cannot be ignored. To do so will just make the problem bigger and longer lasting. So, the sooner you call in a surveyor to assess the situation the quicker a treatment or removal plan can be quoted for and put into action, thereby limiting financial burden.

Social challenges

Invasive plants affect local communities as well as businesses, so when the two overlap there can be social pressure to deal with the problem – as in get rid of the plants in question. An example of this is an overgrowth of invasive Buddleia on land designated for public car parking – this will limit space and access which may put customers off using the premises. Another example may be Field horsetail infesting land used as an equestrian centre. Horsetail is harmful to both animals and humans (if accidentally ingested), when horses mistake it for edible grasses or hay.

Health concerns

There are many invasive plants that cause skin irritations (as shown above caused by touching Giant hogweed), breathing difficulties or even fatalities if eaten – including the most toxic of them all Hemlock water dropwort. It’s therefore not a good idea to have these growing on land or property which the general public use.

Legal issues

Some species are listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – as such there are legal implications around growing them or allowing them to grow in the wild (by deliberately throwing plant material away). Ragwort in particular come under its own Act.


Again, as mentioned above it’s vital to call in the experts when it comes to dealing with invasive plants, whether they are of the toxic variety or not. Choose a contractor that will understand these commercial challenges, provide a choice of solutions (if applicable) and advise you on specific concerns or queries.

need to know more?

Hopefully this article has outlined some of the most common challenges facing commercial businesses when dealing with invasive species. If you have any questions for the team use the form below to get in touch.