Japanese knotweed has become a sizeable problem across the UK. This invasive plant arrived in the UK in the mid-1800s. It was brought to our shores along with several other Chinese and Japanese plant species in a delivery for Kew Gardens. Also known as Fallopia japonica or Polygonum cuspidatum, it spread very rapidly throughout the UK and has been given the label of ‘controlled waste.’
During the summer, the plant grows very aggressively, and while you might not be under any legal obligation to remove it from your property, it is nevertheless advisable. If the knotweed in your garden encroaches into your neighbour’s land or affects local wildlife, you are breaking the law. This could mean prosecution, a fine, or worst-case scenario, the risk of imprisonment for up to two years. Removing Japanese knotweed suddenly becomes more of a priority when there is such a high price to pay.
Identifying Japanese Knotweed
Throughout the year, Japanese knotweed goes through several recognisable stages of growth. You can hire a Japanese knotweed removal company to remove it at any time of the year. However, this invasive species is much easier to spot during the summer.
During summer months, it is most visible above the surface. Growth starts in the spring. If you look closely, you might spot tiny red-purple shoots that look a little like asparagus. They often grow in large patches and can grow as much as 10 centimetres a day during summer months.
Japanese knotweed has very distinguishable leaves. They look like a shield and have an easily recognisable alternating stem pattern. There are a few other garden plants that look similar. For example, Dogwood and lilac both have leaves of a similar shape. Other distinguishing features of Japanese knotweed are bamboo-like canes and small creamy white flowers.
The best way to make sure you’ve got an infestation of Japanese knotweed is to hire a Japanese knotweed removal company to come and check your property.
Problems Caused by Japanese Knotweed
The Environment Agency describes Japanese knotweed as ‘indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive, and invasive plant.’ It can be found growing uncontrollably along waterways, railways, in gardens and parks. Without the help of an experienced knotweed removal company, it can be notoriously difficult to deal with.
If you have Japanese knotweed on your property, you could have problems selling it. You may also find it difficult to get a mortgage on the property unless there is a treatment plan in place and an insurance backed guarantee.
Other problems that can arise, if you think removal is not an option, include:
– The problem can get worse very quickly, and before you know it, the weed will take over, cover several metres of your land and be much harder and costlier to remove.
– There is the risk of prosecution or a compensation claim being made against you.
– If the knotweed damages the local environment, there’s the risk of legal action.
Japanese Knotweed Removal Options
Hire a professional Japanese knotweed removal company, and they will use one of several methods, depending on the severity of the infection.
– Herbicide treatment: ideal for larger areas in which there are no other living things that need protecting
– Stem injection: this is done with a concentrated solution of Glyphosate herbicide
– Digging it out: for large construction sites, this is often the best solution
– Root barrier: halts the spread of Japanese knotweed
– Screening methods: they sift the soil and remove any that is contaminated
– Incineration: this is very effective, but you have to make sure you burn the entire infestation
Is DIY Removal an Option?
Of course, you’re going to be tempted to try and remove it on your own. It’s only a plant, how hard can it be? There are, however, a couple of excellent reasons why you shouldn’t.
Any treatment you try is highly likely to be ineffective. It could even make the situation much worse.
If you don’t have a certified Knotweed Management Plan in place with a PCA guarantee, you’re not going to be offered a mortgage on the property, even if you think you’ve treated the problem.
Tips for removing Japanese knotweed can easily be found online, but the vast majority are completely useless. A bleach and vinegar combination is one of the most popular. You’ll also find glyphosate herbicide solutions available in many shops that promise to rid you of your problem. Weed control products sold to the general public, however, are not as powerful or effective as much stronger solutions that are available for professionals to use.
If you try to remove the knotweed yourself, you’ve also got the problem of disposing of it. You can’t just chop it down or try to dispose of it in your bin, garden waste container, or a skip. As we’ve already mentioned, it’s classed as a controlled waste and has to be disposed of correctly. This means you must use a registered waste carrier to take your contaminated soil or cuttings to a licensed landfill site that accepts Japanese knotweed waste. If you fail to do this, you run the risk of being prosecuted by the Environment Agency.
Here at Japanese Knotweed Specialists, we are a fully accredited Property Care Member and licensed waste carrier. We specialise in the effective treatment and removal of Japanese knotweed nationwide. Get in touch with us today.