Why is Japanese knotweed a problem?
Japanese knotweed (sometimes locally known as donkey rhubarb) may look fairly harmless to the untrained eye, but it shouldn’t be underestimated. The plant has an extensive rhizome system that spans 2-3 metres around the visible stem and up to 3 metres underground. It grows rapidly (up to 10cm a day during the summer months) and can cause structural damage to property by pushing up through cracks in concrete, cavity walls, and broken mortar. It can also clog drains and sewers and unbalance native ecosystems.
What does Japanese knotweed look like?
According to a recent survey, an overwhelming 81% of people in Britain are unable to correctly identify Japanese knotweed, with many mistaking it for other common garden plants such as bindweed or ivy. One of the reasons it is difficult to identify is because it looks quite different at its various growth stages throughout the year:
Spring – red or purple shoots often accompanied by rolled back leaves.
Summer – green stems that look like bamboo, with large pointed leaves and creamy white flowers that hang in clusters.
Autumn – hollow brown bamboo stems and wilting yellow leaves.
Winter – decomposing stalks; the plant withdraws back into the rhizome but new shoots will grow through the canes in the spring.
How can I get rid of Japanese knotweed?
If you have Japanese knotweed on your property it is advisable to call an expert to remove it, either through in situ herbicide treatment or by physical removal. Your options will vary in terms of time and cost, but it is essential that you deal with the problem as soon as possible because:
- Most banks will refuse to finance a property that has Japanese knotweed unless an approved contractor has guaranteed treatment of the problem.
- As a homeowner, you can be sued if you allow Japanese knotweed to encroach onto a neighbouring property.
- Japanese knotweed is an invasive species that harms native vegetation and natural ecosystems.
Whether you are buying or selling a property, Lillicrap Chilcott offers expert advice and professional service. Contact us today for more information.