Invasive plants are a common problem in the management and restoration of degraded lands in the semiarid western United States, but are often not the primary focus of restoration ecologists. Likewise, restoring native vegetation has not been a major concern of weed scientists. But trends in the literature demonstrate increasing overlap of these fields, and greater collaboration between them can lead to improved efficacy of restoration efforts. Succession and ecosystem development are the products of complex interactions of abiotic and biotic factors. Our greatest restoration and invasive plant management successes should result when we take advantage of these natural processes. Recent shifts in management objectives have generated approaches to directing plant community development that utilize species that are strong competitors with invasive species as a bridge to the establishment of native perennial vegetation. Soil water and nutrient characteristics and their interactions can affect desired and undesired plant species differentially and may be manipulated to favor establishment and persistence of desired perennial plant communities. Selection of appropriate plant materials is also essential. Species assemblages that suppress or exclude invaders and competitive plant materials that are well adapted to restoration site conditions are important keys to success. We provide guidelines for restoration based on the fundamental ecological principles underlying succession. Knowledge of the complex interactions among the biotic and abiotic factors that affect successional processes and ecosystem development, and increased collaboration between weed scientists and restoration ecologists hold promise for improving restoration success and invasive species management.