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You may be aware of the headaches that Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) can cause for homeowners unlucky enough to find it growing on their property. This pesky plant is notoriously hard to get rid of, and you can find yourself on the wrong side of the law if you help it to spread into the wild.

Japanese knotweed

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

But even if you already knew all that, the true scale of the UK's Japanese knotweed problem may stun you. This isn't a niche issue that only affects a handful of unfortunate landowners - according to a recent study led by Dr Ross Cuthbert of Queen's University Belfast, Japanese knotweed costs the UK economy a whopping £41 million every year. And that's a conservative estimate.

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When it comes to identifying Japanese knotweed, it really is important that you get it right! Being able to spot Japanese knotweed and seek help as soon as possible, can help prevent further problems and complications further down the line. While someone with a trained eye might be able to spot Japanese knotweed with no problems, identifying Japanese knotweed is not so easy for everyone.

One reason that Japanese knotweed is hard to identify, is because there are so many plants that look like it! Today we're going to take a look at one of the plants that's commonly mistaken for Japanese knotweed... Bindweed. So, if you want to know what the difference between bindweed and Japanese knotweed is, just keep reading.

bindweed

What does bindweed look like?

Much like Japanese knotweed, bindweed has large, heart-shaped leaves - which is the main reason why these two plants often get mixed up. Bindweed (shown above) has a tendency to climb and has strong stems. One of the most notable features of bindweed is its large white trumpet flowers, which we're sure you've seen before in hedgerows or even in your own garden.

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Giant hogweed, a plant you definitely don't want in your garden

There are many benefits to a garden that's teeming with plant life. Not only can a beautiful garden make your property more appealing to buyers, some research suggests that tending plants is great for your mental health, plus your local bees will certainly appreciate all those flowers.

But there are some plants that no gardener wants to find in their flowerbeds. Certain species are renowned for their uncontrollable growing rate, or for the damage they're capable of causing. Some plants - such as Japanese knotweed - can even lead to legal trouble if you allow them to spread.

Come with us as we examine five problematic plants that you definitely don't want anywhere near your garden...

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Japanese knotweed flowers

Last year, we received an enquiry from the Llanharan Miners Hall in Rhondda Cynon Taf. They were concerned because Japanese knotweed had spread onto their land from a neighbouring property - quite a common problem, unfortunately - and they wanted to make sure the plant didn't get out of control.

Taylor Total Weed Control carried out a survey of the affected site and recommended a treatment programme, which is now in progress.

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japanese knotweed

24th - 30th May is Invasive Species Week! This entire week is dedicated to educating people about invasive plants and weeds that can crop up in urban and outdoor spaces. The aim of this week is to help homeowners and professional feel more confident about identifying & treating invasive species. 

For many people, it can be hard to determine whether the strange plants that appear in their gardens are friends or foes. While most plants that you see in the garden are perfectly harmless, there are a small group of invasive plants that can cause some real damage both structurally and financially if they're left to grow wild. 

More About Invasive Species Week >

Here at Taylor Total Weed Control, we are experts in dealing with invasive plant species including, the dreaded, Japanese knotweed. We are registered with the Property Care Association. What does that mean? Well, it means that all of our staff are qualified to deal with invasive species, that our work is completed to a high standard, and that we're keeping up to date with the latest industry developments. It's always important that you look for PCA registered specialists when you're dealing with invasive species.

 

Is Japanese knotweed an invasive species?

For those of you that don't know what Japanese knotweed is, it's an invasive weed that came to the UK at the end of the 19th century. Since then, the weed has spread wildly throughout the UK and can be found everywhere from railway lines to gardens and commercial plots. One of the reasons that this weed is so feared is because it can cause structural damage (by growing through walls and driveways), and it can prevent you from getting a mortgage.

Sadly, few people are able to identify Japanese knotweed when they see it, and since this is one of the fastest spreading invasive species, it has a tendency to get a lot worse very quickly. Hopefully, during Invasive Species Week, you can get to know Japanese knotweed and other invasive species a little bit better. That way, we can all work together to control the spread of these unwanted weeds.

 

How to identify Japanese knotweed

Japanese knotweed looks very similar to plants like bindweed, Russian vine and bamboo. For that reason, it's often incorrectly identified! Here are a few tips that can help you identify knotweed - no problem. 

  • Leaves - Young leaves are a deep burgundy colour and will be furled around the asparagus-like stem of the plant. As the leaves mature, they will emerge as green love-hearts with red veins.
  • Stems - The dense, woody stems of Japanese knotweed are similar to bamboo. Look for a hollow stem with malleable shoots that grow in a zig-zag pattern.
  • Flowers - Japanese knotweed has small off-white leave that contrast with the burgundy around the stem.
  • Rhizomes - The rhizomes or roots of a Japanese knotweed plant are bright-orange on the inside and dark brown on the outside.

Read more: Japanese knotweed identification

Despite the resources available online, you still might not be 100% sure if the weed in your garden is Japanese knotweed or not - that's okay! We have a handy feature that allows you to submit a photo of the suspect weed for our expert technicians to analyse. This means we can help you identify invasive species in your garden without even attending your property! Not sure if it's knotweed?

Submit a photo >

 

What should I do if I find knotweed on my property?

Finding an invasive plant species on your property is always worrying, and your instincts might tell you to panic and attack it with all the weedkiller you have in the shed. This is NOT a good idea, and it certainly won't get rid of the problem for good. As Property Care Association-registered Japanese knotweed experts, we recommend that you do the following:

  • Confirm whether or not it's Japanese knotweed or another worrisome invasive species. You can use our helpful guide above, submit a photo, or request a survey from one of our professional technicians. It's better to be safe than sorry!
  • When you've got confirmation that you have in fact got an invasive species like Japanese knotweed in your garden, get in touch with a removal specialist. By law, you do not have to remove an invasive species from your own property, however, you can face legal action if you allow it to spread onto neighbouring land!

Read more: Japanese Knotweed: 3 Things to Do Right Away

 

What should I do if my neighbour has knotweed?

Invasive species on neighbouring land can be just as concerning as invasive species on your own land! That's because plants like Japanese knotweed can spread onto your property and create damage within a matter of months. Start by reaching out to your neighbours and notifying them that you suspect they have knotweed - they might not know! Chances are, they will seek professional help to get the problem under control quickly, but if they don't and the knotweed spreads onto your land, you might be entitled to compensation. Allowing invasive species to spread onto private property is classed as a private nuisance. 

We can offer:

  • Japanese knotweed monitoring programs - documenting the invasive species on your neighbour's property and monitoring the spread. 
  • Formal notification letter - informing your neighbours of their legal obligation to prevent the invasive weed from spreading to your property.

If you do need to take legal action, we also offer a great expert witness service, whereby our experts will provide evidence of the knotweed dispute in court.

Read More: What to Do if Your Neighbour Has Japanese Knotweed

So there you have it, a little introduction to invasive species week and Japanese knotweed. We hope this helps you understand the problems that can come with invasive species.

As always, if you have any questions about Invasive Species Week, or if you'd like to talk to us about knotweed on your property, drop us an email at: sales@taylortwc.co.uk.

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