By Nic Seale

It’s growing season and that means many property owners are on the lookout for signs that Japanese knotweed may be encroaching onto their land. This is a very real problem that’s affecting landlords all over the UK. To get an idea of the scale of the problem, here’s a map of Japanese knotweed infestations (from the PlantTracker site):

As you can see, there are several large clusters of Japanese knotweed infestation, primarily in northern England, Wales and down into the southeast of England. Parts of Scotland are also blighted with the highly invasive species that was brought here from Japan in the 1800s, and Northern Ireland to a lesser extent.

At Environet, we’re constantly tackling infestations of Japanese knotweed on private as well as commercial premises. Methods of eradication for this weed is the subject we’re asked about on a daily basis, so we’re here to give some advice to landlords and other property investors.

The risks, as you may know, are all too real. There’s the potential for serious structural damage to a house or block of flats, as well as underground piping and other structures around buildings. If you have Japanese knotweed on your property and it spreads to neighbouring ones, you could even find yourself being issued with an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO). And if these worries weren’t enough to keep you up at night, there’s also the possibility that Japanese knotweed may badly devalue your property, as well as making it difficult to sell.

If you suspect you may have Japanese knotweed growing on your property but are not sure, we’ll help you to identify it, for free. Just email us a photo and we’ll tell you straight away.

What many people — homeowners, landlords, property developers and others — constantly ask us is: is it possible to get rid of Japanese knotweed on their own? Some people try this approach, but sadly, almost all of these efforts fail. That’s after long and costly periods spent battling this beast of a plant with sprays and trying to dig it up.

It’s hard to get rid of it because the roots are so deep and wide, and if just a small amount remains in the ground, it will all start growing back again.

In the end, the only real solution for Japanese knotweed removal is to get professional help. This is especially important if you’re looking to sell your house or buy another property, as the lending institutions will now usually require an insurance-backed guarantee after removal has taken place.

We’re in the business of eradicating Japanese knotweed from properties and sites, but actually, we look forward to there being no Japanese knotweed at all in the UK. Will its incredible spread soon be halted? With the way it’s growing around the country, as evidenced in the above map, it seems as though there’s a long way to go.

In the meantime, we’re continuing to invest heavily in research and development to find the best methods of getting rid of Japanese knotweed from infected places. We’ve already developed patented solutions and we’re working on more.

Hopefully, we can one day bid a big sayonara to this troublesome alien invader.

Nic Seal is managing director of Environet, a specialist knotweed eradication firm operating around the UK.