Japanese knotweed was initially imported into the UK in the mid-19th century because of its natural beauty, it’s now causing a headache for home owners and landlords across the UK. The trouble is, despite its lovely ornamental look, Japanese knotweed grows rapidly, is difficult to get rid of and, more importantly, causes damage to property!
How to Spot Japanese Knotweed
It’s a summer plant and starts growing once spring begins, dying off reasonably quickly in the autumn. When it first starts to appear, you’ll notice the distinctive fleshy red-hued shoots. As it grows, the plant develops thick, bamboo style stems with green heart shaped leaves. An area of knotweed can grow to about 1.5 metres and become very dense. It can grow as much as 20 cm in a day.
The problem with Japanese knotweed is not the attractive flowers that it produces in July but the underground system of deep roots that are difficult to remove. Its untended growth can cause damage to driveways and paving and the foundations and walls of buildings. This can impact on the house price and you might not be able to resell or re-mortgage until the problem is dealt with. For landlords, it may also affect whether tenants can be taken on or not.
The Legal Implications
While the damage to property may be top of every landlord’s agenda when it comes to Japanese knotweed, there are also some important legal implications. Under the current law, it’s classed as controlled waste so you can’t simply dig it up and send to normal recycling plants. It needs to be disposed at landfill sites that are licensed to specifically deal with Japanese Knotweed.
Local authorities can also force landlords to treat their land if the plant is found on or around it. Those who own land or have a proprietary interest are therefore open to potential criminal charges if they do not tackle the problem in a timely manner.
If Japanese Knotweed began on your property and then spreads to a neighbouring one, you will be liable for the damage that it causes and will have to take measures to destroy it .
How to Deal with Japanese Knotweed
Getting rid of Japanese knotweed as this article in the Telegraph tells, is easier said than done. It pays to check your property on a regular basis, as well as the surrounding area, of course, and the earlier you can tackle an infestation, the better.
Digging Up Japanese Knotweed
This is possible but if you discover a large growth of the plant, making sure all the underlying roots are removed is hard. Any small amount left behind can mean it recovers and you’ll be back to square one before you know it. You may just have to be satisfied with controlling the growth which can take a lot of time and effort.
It might sound exotic but this bug likes to feed exclusively on Japanese knotweed and has recently been introduced to the UK in the hope of reducing the prevalence of the plant. This is only being released and tested in certain areas of the country at the moment, but may become the main approach to destroying the invasive plant in the future.
There are chemicals that can kill off the plant but it takes a good deal of time to finally get rid of all signs, including the roots. This can also cost thousands of pounds if you have a large infestation. Glyphosate based weed killers are the most popular option.
If Japanese knotweed is discovered, you will need to monitor the situation regularly to make sure that no regrowth occurs. It’s not illegal to have the plant in your garden but you do have a responsibility to control it. If complete eradication is not possible then monitoring and maintenance needs to be carried out diligently over the summer months.
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