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Japanese Knotweed: A guide

2 Sep 2016
Earlier this week, a story broke detailing how a woman from Birmingham is unable to sell her property, due to her next door neighbour’s housing association garden being overrun by Japanese Knotweed, a non-native plant which can grow up to 20cm a day and which has roots that can grow through concrete foundations and brick walls if left untreated. The plant is a particular problem for property buyers and sellers, as if a survey unearths the fact that it is growing nearby mortgage lenders won’t want to know until it is treated, and with a guarantee. We’ve put together this blog post to help you identify the nuisance plant, and the best way to go about getting rid of it for good.

How does it spread

The weed is a perennial root, which means that all it takes is a tiny piece of root left in the soil in order for a whole new plant to spring up again. This means that the plant is easily spread anywhere that soil gets churned over or moved.

How to identify

Identifying Japanese Knotweed can be a problem, because there are many different plants which look similar and have similar leaf shapes. A Youtube video approved by the Association for Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), gives these steps to identify the plant.
  1. It has either a shield, or heart shaped leaf
  2. It has stems with rings round it (nodes) which make it look like bamboo canes
  3. It has an alternating leaf pattern. Each node will have one leaf coming out of it, in one node that leaf will be coming out of the left, and the next it will be coming out of the right, and so on and so forth going up the plant stem.
  4. The stems are completely hollow, and have purple speckles

How to get rid of it

Whilst it can be removed manually, it requires continual removal – and as the roots of the plant can lie dormant for 20 years before growing – we recommend that if you find Japanese Knotweed on or near your property, call in a professional. They will be able to remove the plant, and undertake a programme to make sure it doesn’t come back. They should also give you a guarantee, which means if you wish to move home, the people buying your house will be able to get a mortgage despite known Knotweed problems. The key is also to act as soon as possible, before it starts to take over. As of 2014, it is also a criminal offence to not do anything about Japanese Knotweed on your property if you are aware of it, due to the ease of spreading and the potential damage it can do to neighbouring properties.  

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