Nothing boosts curb appeal quite like beautiful landscaping. It’s also nice to have your own space to enjoy the outdoors. This is why lawn and landscape care is a topic of interest for most homeowners.

Choosing your own yard vegetation can be a lot of fun, and also a source of pride in the upkeep. You want to make sure your trees and shrubs will be able to thrive. Besides watering and pruning, you should also check your yard for the presence of any unwanted, noxious residents.

Many species of noxious plants and trees have put down roots in our local landscape over the last few generations. This kind of vegetation typically acts as a bully to our beautiful native greenery by choking out space and nutrients necessary for growth. Some noxious weed species will even release a harmful chemical to kill off competitors.

Ailanthus altissima tree

One species of particular concern that has made its presence known here in Vancouver (particularly in the older parts of the city near the downtown area) is known as Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). This tree is known by a variety of other names–ailanthus, Chinese sumac, and stinking sumac—and it is far from heavenly.

Ailanthus altissima originates from the region of China and was introduced here by early settlers. It is sometimes admired for how quickly it grows to provide shade and create tree lined streets. It can grow 10 to 15 per year and reach a height of 60 to 80 feet! Unfortunately, these benefits are quickly forgotten once neighborhood residents are dealing with damaged foundations, fences, sidewalks, and pavement work. This tree can turn out to be a real pain, and costly.

There are various options for removing a problematic Tree of Heaven. Since Tree of Heaven is a prolific reproducer, keep a vigilant eye out for seedlings and root suckers around your property and pull them as soon as you see them. For established trees, the process of cutting, girdling, and herbicide application is recommended. If you have an established Tree of Heaven, it is probably best to call in the professionals to handle its removal. There are also county resources available.

When you’re done clearing your property of this pest, you could then take your expertise to the parks, trails and open spaces elsewhere around the county as an invasive plant removal volunteer.