Japanese knotweed warning as hot weather boosts growth of plants – ‘taking over gardens’

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Japanese knotweed is a perennial weed that can spread rapidly. The plant dies back in the winter months but grows quickly in the summer months. The weed is a particular problem because of its rhizomes which spread deeply underground.

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Now, homeowners are being warned that the recent heatwaves and high temperatures could boost the spread of the plant.

Legal experts have said that recent weather conditions could speed up the growth of the plant which could cause problems for properties and other infrastructure.

David Richards, from civil litigation specialist CEL Solicitors, said: “Japanese knotweed can reach up to three metres during the summer months, so it won’t go unnoticed if it encroaches onto your land.

“We have many clients who report cutting back the weed each year but they’ve finally had enough, as this growing season it’s become completely unmanageable.

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“Many are reporting that it’s taking over their gardens.”

The plant can sprout from even the smallest rhizome underground.

It’s an offence to cause Japanese knotweed to grow in the wild, according to Schedule nine of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The plant can cause significant damage to properties and can be hard to remove, often requiring professional help which can be laborious and expensive.

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It’s believed the plant can knock 10 percent off the value of a property and can damage building structures, substructures and target weak points in homes.

Homeowners who find Japanese knotweed on their property should get professional help immediately.

Legal advice is recommended as there could end up being a dispute between neighbours or landowners.

The party responsible for not controlling the weed could be forced to pay experts to remove the plants.

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Vendors also must declare if there is Japanese knotweed present when selling a property as people may not wish to pay as much.

Signs of Japanese knotweed:

The Environment Agency described Japanese knotweed as “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”.

CEL Solicitors’ Mr Richards said: “There are a few telltale signs that could identify a knotweed problem early, and it is always better to tackle the problem at the first possible opportunity.

“You might notice its distinct red or purple shoots starting to break through, while its shovel-shaped leaves are also an easily identifiable sign.”

Signs of the plant include red shoots appearing, creamy white flowers that bloom in late August to mid-September, hollow stems and heart-shaped leaf foliage.

There are four common invasive knotweed plant species in the UK.

These are Japanese knotweed, Dwarf knotweed, Giant knotweed and Bohemian knotweed.

Japanese knotweed is most likely to be found on roadsides, near railway tracks and on waste ground.

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