They start out small, often unnoticed: a little leaf here, a vine tendril there. But before you know it, your landscape is being overtaken by invasive plants. Kudzu, privet, honeysuckle – these are just a few plants labeled as invasive that thrive in Alabama. So what’s the big deal? An invasive is a nonnative plant which spreads and threatens the survival of native plants and crops, or affects human health. (Not all nonnative plants are invasive – think cotton and peanuts.) Alabama provides a long growing season and mild winter which help these invaders thrive. In fact, invasives are such a serious threat to native ecosystems that there are federal, state, and local agencies devoted to controlling or eliminating these pests. For home landscapes, the best solution is to be on the lookout for invaders and deal with them as quickly as possible. Chemical free solutions include digging up the plant, root and all, putting it in a plastic bag, and placing it in the trash – or covering the affected area with a layer of cardboard topped with mulch to prevent the plant from getting any sunlight. If the invader already has become established and is spreading, carefully and selectively applying an herbicide such as glyphosate, which is absorbed by the plant rather than lingering in the soil, can help eliminate the problem while having minimal potential impact on water quality if you carefully and accurately follow package directions. Remember to avoid applying yard chemicals just before or during a rain event and use only what you need.