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Japanese knotweed

Outside of fictional works like The Day of the Triffids and Little Shop of Horrors, very few plants inspire as much dread as Japanese knotweed. This invasive weed has caused countless headaches for homeowners all over the UK, devaluing affected properties by 10 per cent on average.

And yet, as we've discussed before on this blog, Japanese knotweed is barely a problem at all in its native land. While the plant is still considered a weed in Japan, it does not have anything like the toxic reputation it has in this part of the world.

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Pink flowers

SHORT ANSWER: Japanese knotweed flowers are usually white, but dwarf Japanese knotweed - a related species - sometimes grows pink flowers. Additionally, there are several other pink-flowered plants that are commonly mistaken for Japanese knotweed.

Japanese knotweed can be identified by a number of distinctive characteristics: the bamboo-like stems, the heart-shaped leaves, and the clusters of flowers that appear in late summer.

These flowers are quite small, and they're usually white or cream in colour.

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Rubbish skip

Disposing of Japanese knotweed is a delicate business. One must be extremely careful when handling this invasive weed - even a tiny fragment of its hardy rhizome root system can grow into a whole new plant if returned to the soil.

For this reason, there are a lot of rules about what you can and can't do with Japanese knotweed after digging it up. If you allow the plant to spread into the wild, you may be fined thousands of pounds or even imprisoned (see Japanese Knotweed Law).

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UK property

Moving into a new home should be a happy experience. You're starting a fresh chapter and (hopefully) moving a step higher on the property ladder. But if you've unknowingly bought a house that's affected by Japanese knotweed, your joy may be rather short-lived.

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Throughout history, invasive plant and animal species that have been introduced to certain locations around the world have caused both micro and macro ecosystems to crumble. Without any natural predators, these new species are often left to cause irreversible damage that results in entire habitats being completely destroyed as well as communities being hampered with costly damage. 

For those of you who don't know, an invasive species can be any kind of living organisms such as fish, insect, amphibian, fungus or plant that is introduced to an ecosystem that they are not part of and proceed to cause harm and/or damage to the surrounding environment, economy or human health. Species can also be classed as invasive if they grow and reproduce at a fast rate, spread aggressively and carry the threat of causing harm. 

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Some people may look at Japanese knotweed as a beautiful, ornamental plant. After all, that's one of the reasons it was brought to the country in the first place! Planting Japanese knotweed on your property is forbidden for a number of reasons. However, when you realise how damaging Japanese knotweed can be, you'll probably wish you never considered planting it anyway.

You'll remember from our blog - What Damage Can Japanese Knotweed Do? - that Japanese knotweed can make it difficult to sell your home, can cause structural damage to buildings and roads and can even disrupt cables and block drains. This plant is likely to cause you a great deal of hassle, so why you'd want to plant it is a mystery!

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In an attempt to control the rapid spread of Japanese knotweed in Holland, the Dutch government has issued an exemption to alien species ban.

Image: Pixabay

The once-celebrated plant that has now turned into one of destruction is causing huge problems within Holland, and as a result, five thousand Japanese leaf fleas have been released in a last-ditch attempt to control it. Japanese knotweed within the country has become an increasingly problematic issue, which has begun to threaten local biodiversities, damage water quality and increase risks of floods. As a result, the government took the unusual decision to issue an exemption on a ban on the introduction of alien species as the spiralling costs related to knotweed damage started to mount. 

Japanese knotweed is causing huge amounts of damage within the Dutch capital, particularly to pavements, building foundations and dykes, leading to millions of euros in costs each year. According to tests, leaf fleas carry the ability to kill young shoots, preventing the plant from growing by sucking up its sap. This has resulted in an initial 5,000 fleas being released in three distinct locations in hope of combatting the rising problem. It is hoped that the fleas will successfully hibernate over the winter and establish themselves within the new year with further specimens planned to be released next spring.

 

Knotweed in the Netherlands

Japanese knotweed was introduced and cultivated as an ornamental plant in the Netherlands between 1829 and 1841 by German botanist Phillip Franz von Siebold. Its aggressive root system, which has the ability to grow up to 20cm per day and breakthrough concrete, has caused major issues in many countries across Europe. Previously, the Dutch capital has attempted to control the spread of knotweed through means of hot water, fire and lasers but through no avail. The government is now playing its hopes on the colony of leaf fleas to curb the damage being caused. 

One of the leading entomologists at the Institute of Biology in Leiden, Suzanne Lommen who is coordinating the trial, says "All sorts of things have been tried, but complete pest control is extremely difficult and very expensive. We will have to combine various methods to get the Asian knotweed under control. We know from the Japanese knotweed psyllid that it can kill young shoots and slow down or even stop the growth of the plant by sucking up sap – nutrition – from the plant.

“If the psyllid can establish, reproduce and spread, and do the damage we see in the breeding trials, it can hopefully inhibit the growth and spread of Asian knotweed. Then you have a very cheap and environmentally-friendly solution with many years of effect that you can combine with the more expensive methods.”

Lommen continues by stating that the fleas may not take to the Dutch climate, saying "What we do not know yet is how the psyllid will thrive in the Netherlands,” she said. “It comes from an area in Japan where the climate most resembles that of the Netherlands. In the laboratory, it thrives on the interbreed knotweed that grows here. But reality will show whether it can survive in our country.”

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For more updates regarding Japanese knotweed in the UK and around the world, be sure to keep an eye on Taylor Total Weed Control's Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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Is Japanese knotweed poisonous?

SHORT ANSWER: No, Japanese knotweed is not poisonous. In fact, the plant can make a tasty and nutritious addition to all sorts of different recipes!

Japanese knotweed is a troublesome plant that causes a lot of problems here in the UK. It grows very quickly, it can cause damage as it spreads, and if there's Japanese knotweed in your garden, you may find it difficult to sell your property.

Still, knotweed's not all bad. Unlike some other invasive plants (such as giant hogweed, whose sap can cause severe skin inflammation), Japanese knotweed is not directly harmful to humans - you can actually cook it and eat it with no ill effect.

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As homeowners up and down the country are becoming more aware of the damage that can be caused to their properties as a result of a Japanese knotweed infestation, it is becoming an increasingly dreaded sight.

Initially embraced by Victorian gardeners for its beauty, Japanese knotweed quickly became an invasive presence that threatens to damage micro-ecosystems, roads and properties. But is knotweed really that bad? Let's take a look at some of the facts:

  • Knotweed can grow up to 10cm per day during peak season
  • Eradicating knotweed is very difficult on your own and requires professional help to avoid the risk of further spread
  • Its spread and growth in the UK has caused house and land prices to fall as much as 40% 

From these facts alone, you can see why so many homeowners in the UK are fearful of a knotweed infestation on or around their property. One way to limit the risk of an infestation is to try to prevent the spread of knotweed where possible but in order to do so, we must first understand how Japanese knotweed spreads in the first place. So, let's find out!

 

Spreading Japanese Knotweed

Since we've already mentioned the rate at which knotweed can grow (10cm per day), we can now dive into how it spreads further afield. 

Japanese knotweed has the ability to produce seeds, but surprisingly, these seeds do not germinate. Instead, the weed spreads via the stem, rhizome and crown in the following ways.

Stem

Fresh Japanese knotweed plants can grow from the nodes of the green stem in both water and soil.

Rhizome

Even the smallest piece of knotweed rhizome can grow into a full plant. By breaking up the rhizome into small pieces, you can stimulate it to create small buds which then grow to form each new plant. To avoid this, be sure to never accept topsoil that hasn't been checked as you may be spreading rhizomes without ever knowing.

Crown 

That crown forms part of the knotweed's stem and is able to survive both composting and drying. If you want to dispose of using either the method of drying or composting, make sure you cut the stems right above the crown. Knotweed is able to spread by producing new canes once it comes into contact with soil or water.

 

How far does Japanese knotweed spread?

There is no limit to how far a Japanese knotweed infestation can spread, which is why it has become such a nuisance for so many in the UK over the last decade or so. If it is given the right amount of space and nutrients, it is able to grow indefinitely. Also, as a result of the speed and ease with which knotweed can spread, it has been labelled as an invasive weed by the UK government.

 

How to stop Japanese knotweed from spreading 

Few methods exist which help to stop the spreading of Japanese knotweed. However, these techniques often require professional help in order to be effective. Removing Japanese knotweed usually involves a combination of methods which includes excavation, herbicidal spray, burning and burial to prevent rhizomes from successfully surfacing shoots.

 

If you believe you have spotted Japanese knotweed on or near your property and would like professionals to come out and take a look, Taylor Total Weed Control are here to help! Our team of experienced professionals can survey your property and confirm whether knotweed is present. If it is, we are then able to construct a dedicated programme aimed at removing and stopping further spread of the plant.

To learn more about our expert knotweed services, click here. If you would like to get in touch with a member of our team, fill out our quick and easy form below - we look forward to hearing from you!

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eradicate japanese knotweed

In previous blogs, we've spoken about the damage that Japanese knotweed can cause, the effect Japanese knotweed has on house prices and the persistence of Japanese knotweed that always seems to find its way back. 

When you get to understand how much of a problem Japanese knotweed is, you begin to question - "Is it possible to eradicate Japanese knotweed permanently?"

The short answer, yes! It's 100% possible to get rid of Japanese knotweed from your property permanently but DIY methods are not the way to do it. We've heard stories of people tackling their Japanese knotweed problems with all kinds of home remedies including bleach and salt - none of which have done a good enough job to get rid of the troublesome weed for good. 

Speak to the Professionals

With Japanese knotweed treatment, you can't afford to mess around. As we've mentioned, there are a whole host of reasons why Japanese knotweed needs to be eradicated completely and permanently. Not only can it cause structural damage it can also make selling your home incredibly difficult. 

Here at Taylor Total Weed Control, we offer comprehensive Japanese knotweed treatment packages that begin with a FREE consultation. Our technicians will visit the site and carry out an assessment of your Japanese knotweed problem. 

From there, they can offer you a range of Japanese knotweed treatment options that are effective at killing the Japanese knotweed shoots and the root network underground. 

Request a Free Survey Now >

Japanese Knotweed Guarantee 

We know what you're thinking, how can you be sure that these Japanese knotweed treatments will eradicate the Japanese knotweed permanently? That's where our Japanese knotweed guarantees come in.

We offer a 5 or a 10-year guarantee with our Japanese knotweed treatment plans that ensures your home is kept Japanese knotweed free permanently after it's treated. Our specialist team will work with you for as long as you need, and can even carry out Japanese knotweed treatments as and when you need them if you find that the problem re-occurs. 

If you have any questions about our Japanese knotweed treatments, please don't hesitate to give us a call on 029 2039 7554.

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