Now that spring is finally here and growing season has begun in earnest, many property developers, investors, landlords and homeowners are on the lookout for Japanese knotweed and the real harm it can cause to their properties. If it appears and is not swiftly dealt with, it can result in substantial structural damage, as well as steep devaluations of properties — making them almost impossible to sell or buy.
Infestations of this seemingly unstoppable plant that was brought into the UK in the 1800s are occurring in all four countries of the UK, with major areas of England and southern parts particularly affected. The south of Wales and central Scotland are other areas that are also blighted by the scourge of this species as it continues its centuries-long spread around the nation and leaving people scratching their heads looking for Japanese knotweed solutions.
There’s no question that Japanese knotweed is one of the most aggressive non-native species on our shores — and if the structural issues it can cause weren’t enough, there are also legal issues surrounding the plant. If it’s allowed to spread to neighbouring properties or dug up and not disposed of in a certain way, prosecution, fines and possibly more can follow. All this makes it essential to deal with Japanese knotweed the moment you see it on a property.
Japanese Knotweed Lifecycle
Japanese knotweed appears to die off in the autumn, and for those who have been battling it, they may think it’s gone for good. Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s a perennial plant and is waiting for the weather to warm and the sun to shine before popping back up again and continuing its rapid growth. By the time summer comes around, shoots with small, red leaves start appearing and can resemble those of bamboo. Left to grow, they will shoon shoot up to over two metres in height and overwhelm everything in sight.
If what’s happening above ground is problematic — and it certainly is — it’s a similar or even worse story underground. The root system of Japanese knotweed is deep and wide, and as it hunts out nutrients and moisture, can grow into fissures in property walls and damage them as the roots expand. It can also interfere with pipes and everything else that’s underground near these properties, causing all manner of difficulties that can be hard to resolve unless the weed is killed off for good.
So if you’re delighted that you suddenly seem to have bamboo growing on your property, your smile could soon turn to a worried frown. It rapidly changes shape and its leaves turn from red to green, then flowers with off-white blooms in the middle of summer. By then, however, you may well have a deeply entrenched problem that’s growing all around you and threatening your property.
Eradicating Japanese Knotweed
Are there realistic and workable Japanese knotweed solutions, or do you just have to put up with this menace of a plant and try and contain it? If there are effective solutions out there, why is the UK still suffering from creeping Japanese knotweed?
The problem is that many people think they can deal with this plant on their own. It’s just a weed, so how hard can it be? Very, is the answer. No amount of weedkiller will get rid of it and digging it out of the ground where it’s shooting up most likely won’t also kill it off. The roots will almost certainly still be elsewhere in the ground and will send up new shoots to take the place of what’s cut down.
The only real answer to this knotty problem is to call in professional exterminators who will use potent herbicides and specialist dig-out methods to ensure the weed is killed off and stays that way. It makes sense in terms of time, effort and money, and will prevent you from getting into trouble with the law if your Japanese knotweed spreads to neighbouring properties. With the best Japanese knotweed eradication firms also providing solid, insurance-backed guarantees for up to 10 years, now you can sleep easy again.