Now that spring is firmly underway and we’re racing towards the heady days of summer, there’s lots to do in the garden — including keeping things out that shouldn’t be there. Japanese knotweed has turned out to be a nightmare for gardeners all over the UK, because once it takes root, it’s extremely difficult to get rid of.
This incredibly hardy perennial is dormant over winter and can look as though it has died off. But once the warmer weather arrives, Japanese knotweed soon starts poking its way above ground again, sending up small, red shoots that somewhat resemble those of bamboo. From there, if immediate and effective action is not taken, a whole world of trouble awaits.
For a glimpse at the scale of the Japanese knotweed problem, have a look at the PlantTracker site. You’ll see almost nowhere in the UK — from southern England right up to the northern tip of Scotland, across the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland — has escaped this fast-growing non-native species. Indeed, the entire country appears to have areas affected by the plant, with Japanese knotweed hotspots clustered around parts of northern England, Wales and the southeast of England.
Japanese Knotweed Risks
If Japanese knotweed is left untreated and allowed to grow, during the spring and summer it will grow extraordinarily fast — up to 20cm in a single day. This means it will soon overwhelm everything else in the garden, as the place is turned into the domain of what seems to be a single, enormous and ever-growing plant. At the same time, the root system is spreading underground. In its quest for nutrients and moisture, it can grow into cracks in walls and cause severe damage as the roots expand. Japanese knotweed can also cause difficulties with underground services such as drains.
It’s for these reasons that it can be almost impossible to get a mortgage for a property that has Japanese knotweed growing on it, making the sale of affected homes problematic. If that wasn’t bad enough, Japanese knotweed can cause the value of properties to plummet, as no-one wants to buy them and inherit the problem of dealing with the weed. Then, homeowners are left severely out of pocket, with their substantial investment that is suddenly worth tens of thousands of pounds less than it should be.
Homeowners also need to be aware that letting Japanese knotweed spread onto neighbouring properties is an offense and could land you in trouble with the law. It is not, however, illegal to to have Japanese knotweed growing on your own property. There are also strict rules for getting rid of Japanese knotweed from your garden; it must be properly disposed of or you could be hit with a hefty fine, or worse.
Can You Treat Japanese Knotweed Yourself?
You might wonder what all the fuss is about, and think that all it takes is to either spray Japanese knotweed with some weedkiller or dig it up out of the ground and you’ll be alright. However, in most cases, these kinds of DIY jobs just don’t work and the tenacious weed continues its growth and trail of destruction.
The difficulty lies in the roots, and even if just a small piece of root remains in the ground, it has the real potential to start growing all over again. The only solution, to protect your home and its value, is to get effective Japanese knotweed treatment. That means getting in a company that specialises in the elimination of Japanese knotweed from an infected site.
They will be able to use potent herbicides that are not available to the public to kill off the plant, although this takes some time and must be done over at least two growing seasons. If it’s quick Japanese knotweed treatment you’re after, such firms can perform a specialist dig-out of the affected site, taking care not to disturb the surrounding environment. Plus, with insurance-backed guarantees from top Japanese knotweed removal firms that last between five and ten years, you can sleep soundly once again.