‘Proceed with caution’ The do’s and don’ts of removing invasive Japanese Knotweed

Japanese knotweed: Phil Spencer discusses plant

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Japanese knotweed grows rapidly and is most active in the summer months. While this is the best time of year to look out for invasive weeds creeping across your garden, knowing what to do with knotweed once you’ve identified the green leaves and white blossoms isn’t always as easy. In fact, taking the wrong steps to get rid of this dangerous plant can often make the problem worse, so what exactly should you do to keep it under control? Here’s everything you need to know about dealing with Japanese knotweed on your property, according to one of the nation’s leading control, treatment and removal contractors, Japanese Knotweed Specialists.

Under section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to plant or grow Japanese Knotweed on your property.

Purposely planting this invasive species isn’t the only way to get it growing in your garden, in fact, it could already be taking over your green space.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, the experts at Japanese Knotweed Specialists said: “With its growth season in full swing, homeowners may have noticed the invasive weed present in their garden.

“But, with so many myths surrounding Japanese knotweed treatment and removal, it can be hard to know how to tackle this weed.”

Don’t try and kill Japanese knotweed with bleach

One of the most common misconceptions around Japanese knotweed is that it can be killed using DIY remedies such as bleach.

Contrary to popular belief, it has no effect on the invasive weed as the dilute solution is made of sodium hypochlorite which decomposes to create chlorine – a substance designed to kill bacteria, not plants.

The team at Japanese Knotweed Specialists said: “All this solution will do is damage the soil beneath, affecting the ecosystem in your garden whilst reaping no benefit.”

Don’t think that building on land with Japanese knotweed is easy

By abiding by current laws, property can be built on land where the aggressive weed is removed, however, the team at JKS have warned homeowners to “proceed with caution”.

They said: “You must have a management plan in place, and in most cases this means physical excavation and removal of the invasive weed.

“Of course, this is dependent on a number of factors, such as the type of planned development or the size of the infestation.”

New buildings can be built on land with Japanese knotweed present, but the presence of the weed must be declared and considered throughout the planning process and physically excavated before any development is carried out.

Don’t assume that Japanese knotweed is ‘gone for good’ after treatment

Another great misconception of this invasive species is that when it’s treated, it’s gone forever.

Whether it’s a cheap solution being used, chopping the weed down or disposing of the weed incorrectly, Japanese knotweed will see this as an opportunity to return.

All it takes is a few grams of the root to be left behind for it to regrow – even if the plant is dormant, the rhizome systems are still able to flourish once more up to 20 years after treatment.

Don’t assume that Japanese knotweed dies in the winter

Japanese knotweed presents as bamboo-like, brittle brown canes in the winter which replace the easily identifiable heart shaped leaves.

While the plant may look as though it is dying off in the cold, it’s far from dead and is still able to grow.

The plant will simply lie dormant underground to preserve energy ready for the summer season, when the rhizome system continues to grow and spread underground throughout your garden.

For this reason, it is crucial to continue looking out for canes even in the winter months.

Know what you’re looking for

The team at JKS said: “Japanese knotweed can have a devastating impact on homes, and removing infestations can be a costly process. To save money, learn how to identify the weed.”

When identifying Japanese knotweed, look out for the following:

Tall growth around two metres high in July and 1.5 metres in May

  • Heart or shovel shaped leaves
  • Creamy white flowers budding in late summer
  • Zig-zag growth patterns

Consider how Japanese knotweed will affect your property value

Japanese knotweed can devalue a house between 5 and 15 percent and is known to affect around four percent of all UK properties.

Establishing a professional management plan from a PCA approved contractor should be the first step if you’re looking to sell your home as it will make the sale process “significantly easier”.

A TA6 form must also be completed to inform potential buyers of this weed on the property.

Adam Brindle, CEO of Japanese Knotweed Specialists, said: “Ensure that you are open and transparent if you’re selling a property affected by Japanese knotweed.

“Share the management plan with both buyers and the solicitor and make sure you have completed the TA6 form correctly. We have seen a rise in litigation against sellers who have not been truthful on the TA6.”

In January 2022, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors published new guidance on Japanese knotweed and its implications for surveyors and homeowners.

The updated guidance introduced ‘management categories’ rather than ‘risk categories’, detailing how different levels of infestation should be treated and managed.

Always call for professional removal and disposal

If you think you’ve discovered Japanese knotweed in your garden, it is crucial to check that you have correctly identified the plant.

The experts at Japanese Knotweed Specialists said: “While Japanese knotweed does feature easily identifiable heart shaped leaves, creamy white flowers and zig-zag growth patterns, it can be easily mistaken for other plants throughout the seasons.

“If you’re still unsure, then the best course of action is to contact a PCA approved Japanese knotweed specialist to correctly identify the weed and plan its removal for good.”

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