Japanese knotweed: Invasive weed costs thousands to banish – key signs it’s in your garden

Japanese knotweed: Phil Spencer discusses plant

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Japanese knotweed is an aggressive weed that spreads rapidly, and is notoriously difficult to get rid of once it’s invaded your garden. The tall, dense stems begin to grow in early summer, but how can you tell if you have a Japanese knotweed problem around your property? These are the signs you should look for to avoid losing out on as much as 10 percent of the value of your home.

Leaving Japanese knotweed to run wild in your garden could result in a host of problems that are not only a nuisance, but could cost you a small fortune.

The highly aggressive weed can cause significant damage to property and grounds, and comes with several regulations for its removal to prevent it from spreading.

Mark Montaldo, director of leading law firm CEL Solicitors, said: “Japanese knotweed can strike fear into the hearts of homeowners as it has a reputation for being extremely invasive and difficult to manage.

“While it isn’t illegal to have this invasive plant on your property, it can quickly damage and devalue your house and you could find yourself the subject of a legal claim if it passes from your land to your neighbours.”

How to tell if you have Japanese knotweed growing in your garden

This pesky plant is often a major headache for homes as it can grow up to seven feet tall, and can be particularly difficult to remove.

In fact, CEL Solicitors claims that it can even knock as much as 10 percent off the value of a property, while costing you thousands of pounds to remedy.

Mr Montaldo added: “There are a few tell-tale signs that could identify a knotweed problem early, and it is always better to tackle the problem at the first possible opportunity.”

It’s possible to spot the invasive weed early as it begins to grow in spring and summer, but what exactly should you be looking for?

Young shoots in early spring

Japanese knotweed is known for its distinct red or purple shoots, which can break cracks and crevices in paving and soil.

This is one of the first signs of growth, with the small seedlings often spotted at the base of old canes in cases where the weed has existed for more than a season already.

According to CEL Solicitors, the new shoots emerge as red or purple asparagus-like spears around 1-3cm in diameter.

The leaves are usually red, or green with red spots, and can often appear to be rolled up during the spring months.

Later in spring, you should look for:

  • Open foliage which will turn from red to bright green
  • Dark green canes instead of red or purple shoots

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Tall bamboo-like canes in summer

The tall green canes can grow up to an alarming 10cm per day in summer, making it even harder for homeowners to tackle the ever-growing problem.

Rapid growth will make this weed easier to spot during the warmer months, when the canes and foliage become even more prominent in your garden.

The hollow stems will appear dark green with purple speckles, and begin to resemble bamboo canes – reaching up to 10 feet in height.

The heart shaped green leaves will also grow bigger, showing distinctive ribs and veins.

As well as the distinctive roots and leaves, the plant sometimes bears clusters of little white flowers towards the end of the season.

What to do if you find Japanese knotweed on your property

Leaving this invasive weed to run wild could leave you unable to sell, or even re-mortgage your house as a result, so it is important to seek expert advice as soon as you spot the first signs of Japanese knotweed.

This is crucial to identify both the scale of the problem and understand your own responsibility in the event of a legal dispute with your neighbours.

If you do have Japanese knotweed in your garden, you could run into several legal issues – but what are you liable for?

The solicitor firm said: “If knotweed spreads, the party responsible for failing to control the plant could be forced to pay specialists to eradicate it.”

It is also your legal obligation to declare the presence of the plant when selling a house, which can affect how much money the buyer will be prepared to pay.

However, if you have recently moved into a property and notice an issue with undeclared Japanese knotweed, you could be eligible for some form of compensation.

CEL Solicitors said: “If the invasive plant is found growing on the property within five years of the purchase, the new owner could claim against the previous owner for misrepresentation or against the surveyor for professional negligence.”

Without taking action to remove it, the weed will continue to grow and overtake existing flora, as well as spreading to surrounding land.

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