Unhappy memories of Japanese knotweed

As we prepare to move house as a family, my mind has, from time to time, drifted to previous house moves. My first-ever house purchase was notable for many reasons but one in particular stands out; the threat of Japanese Knotweed.

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Japanese knotweed. A dreadfully invasive plant that almost made it into my old garden garden. Pic credit: Kenneth Allen. Copyright and used under Creative Commons agreement.

Not long after moving in, I was talking to Jan, our immediate neighbour. She pointed to a plant in another neighbour’s garden.

It had long, thick stalks rather like bamboo and had been left to grow well above the height of the garden shed. In fact, it seemed to be enveloping the garden shed.

“You need to be careful of that,” said Jan, “it’s Japanese knotweed.”

I had never heard of Japanese knotweed before but went away and did my research. When I learned exactly how destructive and invasive the plant is, I felt more than a little annoyed that our surveyor hadn’t mentioned it. You certainly couldn’t miss it, the plant was massive.

If you aren’t familiar with Japanese knotweed, it is incredibly invasive and can split concrete. It can grow up to 10cms a day and its roots (or rhizomes) can fan out about seven metres and go about three metres deep.

Removing Japanese knotweed is not simple. You only need to leave the tiniest stem or rhizome behind and it will grow again. Various laws have been put in place regarding removal and disposal and it should really be left to professionals.

If knotweed is present on a property, it can be difficult to get a mortgage or sell it on. It really is something that homeowners need to deal with.

Luckily for us, the knotweed never entered our garden, but it was a close call. All of our houses shared an access ally at the back and the knotweed was growing underneath the neighbour’s wall and resurfacing in the alley. It really was only a couple of metres away from our garden.

That house was sold and I moved away many years ago. I really don’t know what happened in the end but I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if that knotweed was now present in many gardens in that street.

I’ve also become something of a knotweed spotter. I can identify the plant from 100 paces and I was most upset when we holidayed in Oban in Scotland last summer to discover a sizeable invasion in part of the town.

As we’ve viewed houses in the run up to our move, Japanese knotweed is something I have been keeping an eye out for. For me it would make or break the decision to buy a house. If you ever find it on your property, I would certainly suggest getting it dealt with quickly.


Disclosure: This commissioned article was produced in association with Environet



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