Managing Invasive Species in Your Community

Several people working to remove teasel on a slope in town

Volunteers assist with the removal of invasive teasel in Columbia, MO. Photo courtesy of the City of Columbia.


Easy Things Communities Can Do to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species

Invasive species are nonnative plants and animals that spread rapidly and can cause harm to the environment, economy, and/or human health. Read on to learn what you can do to keep them from spreading in your community.


Adopt a Weed Ordinance

Communities may craft an ordinance that addresses the nuisance and public health concern of landscapes that contain invasive, nonnative species or are unmaintained, allowing invasive species to become abundant. These ordinances can also encourage the use of native plants in place of nonnative species. 

Case study: Chesterfield, MO

Chesterfield allows native plantings as long as they are free of turf weeds and grasses, nuisance plants, invasive plants, and noxious weeds. The ordinance refers to plant lists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for noxious weeds and the Missouri Department of Conservation for invasive and native plants. Native plantings must be set 4 feet from property boundaries and must not block the sight of drivers or cause other harm to the health and safety of the public.

MDC Can Help!

MDC staff can provide technical advice and cost-share information.


Sponsor Invasive Plant Removal Events

Hold volunteer events for invasive plant removal at schools, parks, and other community areas.

Case study: Saint Louis, MO

The Honeysuckle Sweep in Saint Louis is sponsored by several partner groups to address the spread of invasive bush honeysuckle. Bush honeysuckle spreads quickly and pushes out native plants that are more beneficial to birds and pollinators. Too much of it can even lead to an increase in mosquitoes! 


Hire Knowledgeable Land Care Staff and/or Contractors

  • Require a baseline knowledge of native and invasive species when hiring grounds crew members and provide training to current employees so they can identify invasive species when they see them.
  • Include knowledge of invasive species identification as a necessary qualification for any contractor bidding on landscaping installation or maintenance projects.

Help Slow the Spread of Invasive Tree Pests Through Early Detection

  • Instruct staff to contact MDC if they see signs of invasive insects or diseases. Report suspected invasive tree pests to .
Illustration of grass
Which plants are invasive?

The Missouri Invasive Plant Council (MoIP) is a multidiscipline group that works to bolster efforts to identify and control invasive plants across the state. In 2019, MDC adopted MoIP’s Invasive Plant Assessment as the Missouri invasive plant list.

Browse MOIP's invasive plant list.


Require Native Plants in Civic Landscaping

  • Instruct landscape architects and other designers preparing planting plans for new public facilities and open spaces to specify native plants except for turfgrass.
  • Replace nonnative plants with native species when renovation opportunities arise.

Encourage Native Plants in Commercial and Residential Landscaping

  • Review local landscaping ordinances to remove any prohibitions or barriers to using native plants in commercial or residential zones.
  • Publicly recognize, celebrate, and provide incentives for landscaping done primarily with native plants.

Case study: Springfield, MO

The Yard Ethic certification program in Springfield, MO, provides incentives and information for businesses and residents to landscape with native plants and use fewer pesticides. Its associated Blooming Blvds program promotes the use of rain gardens, which help filter and absorb stormwater runoff as well as add beauty to an area. 

Keep Invasive Species Out of Community Streams, Ponds, and Lakes

  • Post the message: “Never release aquarium plants or fish, live bait, or other exotic animals into park waters or the wild.”
  • Encourage visitors to fish with native bait.
  • Require boats to be cleaned, drained, and dried before they are moved from one body of water to another.

Keep Invasive Species From Spreading in Public Parks and Campgrounds

  • Post the message: “Don’t move firewood” to keep invasive tree pests from hitching a ride on firewood that is moved from one location to another. Encourage visitors to purchase firewood locally and leave what they don’t burn.
  • Incorporate strategies for identifying and controlling invasive species into area management plans.
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