Most Harrisburg homeowners assume that the plants found at your average big box garden store are perfect for their Pennsylvania landscape. And sometimes that is true. Many plants are beautiful, but not all are beneficial to your outdoor living area. Some of the most eye-catching plants can be invasive, poisonous or attractive to unwelcome insects—issues you probably don’t want to deal with. Here are a few plants that we suggest you never use in your Pennsylvania yard.

English Ivy

Many homeowners have visions of green ivy creeping up the walls of their homes or curling around trees in their yard, creating a lush green landscape. While English ivy is a vigorously growing vine, it can also become a backyard nuisance. As the ivy climbs in search of more sunlight light, it overwhelms and kills nearby plants and trees, blocking light from reaching the other leaves. In a host tree, branch dieback proceeds from the lower to upper branches, often leaving the tree with just a small, green broccoli head. The host tree will eventually succumb entirely to this steady weakening. In addition, the added weight of the vines makes infested trees much more susceptible to blow-over during high rain and wind events and heavy snowfalls.


Bamboo’s hardness and rapid growth characteristics make it one of the world’s most renewable building resources. But that doesn’t necessarily make it a practical option for your yard. This species of giant grass is one of the world’s most invasive plants. Once established, it is literally next to impossible to control. Before long, you’ll find your backyard—and quite possibly your neighbor’s yard—overrun with a bamboo privacy screen that could take years to eradicate. If you must grow bamboo, do it in large landscaping planters.


Who doesn’t want to sip on a cool glass of homegrown mint tea during the hot summer? Mint is a wonderful herb to grow. It’s a great addition to food and drink and is beautifully aromatic in a vase with other flowers. But its roots are seriously invasive and can spread throughout your backyard in a weed-like manner. Should you want to grow one or more of the enjoyable mint varieties, do your yard a favor and plant your mint in a container.

Japanese Barberry

Homeowners have a well-established love of the Japanese barberry. The small shrub—usually about 2 or 3 feet tall—has elegant, arching branches; spoon-shaped leaves ranging from light yellow or green to dark red; and small red berries. It’s also very tough and deer find it unpalatable. Sounds great, right? Not exactly. Studies have shown that it harbors black-legged ticks, which can carry Lyme disease. It is also invasive and covered with a thicket of sharp barbs to boot, making it unpleasant to manage, at best.

White Ash

White ash trees can be beautiful in the fall. They display exquisite leaf colors ranging from yellow to deep purple and maroon. In the summer, it’s spreading canopy is capable of blocking sunlight and adds visual interest and beauty to landscaping. But this fast-growing shade tree can have invasive, lateral root systems that might spell trouble for your underground pipes and foundation. In addition, the male trees are among the worst plants you can grow in your yard if you’re an allergy sufferer. It’s also susceptible to the emerald ash borer, a highly destructive pest responsible for the destruction of tens of millions of trees across 26 states within the U.S., including Pennsylvania.

So, what should you plant? We’re glad you asked. Find some of our favorite recommendations here. You’ll find spectacular blooms that stop you in your garden path tracks. Or offer up such intoxicating fragrance, you make excuses to go outside just to inhale and swoon. Contact the landscape professionals at PA Landscape Group, Inc. to help you select the ideal landscape enhancing plants for your yard.