Japanese knotweed: the devastating plant taking over Britain

Finding Japanese knotweed when viewing your prospective new home could signify huge problems. The highly invasive weed is a recognized risk to manmade structures and could even, possibly, result in mortgage lenders refusing to lend on a property. Land values can also be reduced to take into account any remedial works required and it can cause considerable damage to foundations, walls and other structures.

Introduced into the UK as an ornamental plant in the 19th century, it quickly began to grow and spread uncontrollably and is now governed by legislation. Under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act it was made illegal to plant the weed in the wild or to allow its growth, with offences punishable by fines or imprisonment!

The roots can extend up to 3m in depth and 7m in all directions and can have serious consequences to foundations. It has been estimated that to eradicate Japanese knotweed completely from the UK would cost £1.56 billion!

Removal of the weed requires a specialist team as there is a high chance of it spreading from rhizomes (underground stems) during any disturbance. It is therefore not something to overlook when choosing your new home. A survey will take steps to ensure that Japanese knotweed is not a serious threat to your property, but it is also something you should be on the lookout for at a viewing.

How to spot Japanese knotweed? The weed is easiest to spot in summer and autumn by its bamboo-like canes and green shield-shaped leaves. In winter it dies back, and in the spring it can be identified by red shoots appearing from the ground.

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