Winter is a dull and dreary time in the gardens of most properties. But, harsh and frigid months offer an opportunity for some essential maintenance to get your green and largely dormant areas into shape for the growing season ahead. It’s also a great time to deal with any lingering issues you may be having with Japanese knotweed — that scourge of a plant that is causing severe problems with properties all around the UK.
This highly invasive, rapidly growing plant springs to life in the spring and reaches peak growing season during the summer, when it also flowers. But as the temperature starts to drop and autumn arrives, it begins to die back and has all but disappeared by time winter comes around.
It can be tempting to think that’s the end of your problems with Japanese knotweed if you’ve been battling it all during the year to no avail — as it just keeps on growing despite your best efforts to kill it off. During the cold winter months it’s lying dormant under the ground and ready to come back to life when it begins to warm up.
The Root of the Problem
The difficulty with Japanese knotweed is not so much what’s above ground, but what’s hiding deep below. While the shoots grow like wildfire — up to 20 cm in a single day — and can rapidly take over an entire garden and property if not cut back, in the soil lurks a different beast. The root system of this weed, called a rhizome, grows deep and wide and is almost impossible to get rid of on your own. You can certainly try and dig it out of the ground, but if even a small part remains, it will most likely start growing again and you’re back to square one.
The roots can grow into cracks in property walls and damage them as they get bigger. This can lead to substantial integrity problems within buildings and is one of the main reasons it’s so hard to sell an infected property. Trying to get a mortgage for a house with Japanese knotweed on it — which will easily be identified by a surveyor during the property-assessment phase — is an almost impossible task, as lenders will usually reject an application unless professional eradication is carried out.
And the problems keep rolling on with this nightmare species that was brought into the UK in the 1800s as a dainty, decorative plant. It’s not illegal to have it on your property but it is against the law to allow it to grow onto neighbouring properties or land. There are penalties for not disposing of it properly — if you do dig it up and are intending to bury it somewhere — not following the approved procedures could see it growing out in the wild and causing mayhem all over again.
Removing Japanese Knotweed
So how do you go about removing Japanese knotweed? If your yard is afflicted by it, you almost certainly have been trying to get rid of it yourself. After all, it’s just a weed. But this is no ordinary plant, and dousing it with weedkiller or even diesel and digging it out of the ground most likely won’t achieve anything. It’s time to call in the experts and get it out of your garden for good.
Professional eradication firms go about removing Japanese knotweed with an array of weapons that will do the job the right way. They have access to powerful herbicides that you can’t purchase at your local garden centre, and these can be used over a number of growing seasons to kill off Japanese knotweed. If it’s a quick eradication you’re after, because you want to sell a property, for instance, an expert dig-out of the affected soil will extract all the problem roots and return the soil so that there’s minimal disruption to the site.
And when you’re removing Japanese knotweed from your property, you want it to stay that way — removed and gone forever. That’s why leading eradication firms typically give their customers an insurance-backed guarantee that lasts for five years and can be extended to ten. Doing all this during the downtime in winter will ensure your garden is perfectly poised to fully bloom in the springs and summers to come.