Japanese knotweed is a notorious invasive plant species in the UK, leading the pack among four common types:
Bohemian (hybrid) knotweed
Identifying Japanese Knotweed
For a detailed description and images, visit the Non-native Species Secretariat website.
Where Does Knotweed Grow?
Knotweed thrives in various UK soil conditions, especially in man-made areas like roadsides, waste grounds, and railway embankments. It's also frequently seen along rivers and streams.
How Does Knotweed Spread?
The plant spreads through its roots and from tiny fragments of its stem and root. Even a 1cm piece of its root can give rise to a new plant.
Obligations for Property Owners
If you discover knotweed on your property, it's essential to prevent it from spreading beyond your boundaries. While you're not legally bound to remove it unless it's causing harm, allowing it to spread into the wild can lead to prosecution.
Chemical Treatment: Spraying or injecting approved herbicides can curb its growth. However, multiple treatments over at least three years are required. If using chemicals, ensure the person applying them is certified and always seek necessary permissions, especially if near protected areas or water bodies.
Burying Knotweed: If you choose to bury the plant, notify the Environment Agency in advance. The burial depth depends on whether you use a protective geotextile membrane. Ensure the membrane is durable, UV resistant, and securely sealed.
Burning Knotweed: Businesses must inform the Environment Agency and their local council before burning. Individuals should check local regulations. Remember, some parts of the plant may survive burning, so follow disposal guidelines.
Hiring a Specialist
If managing knotweed feels overwhelming, consider hiring a specialist. Look for contractors with accreditations like the Amenity Forum Membership or those affiliated with trade bodies like the Invasive Non-Native Specialists Association (INNSA).
If on-site disposal isn't feasible, send the knotweed to a permitted landfill or incineration facility. Always use a registered waste carrier and inform the Environment Agency of your actions. Ensure the waste is securely covered during transport, and vehicles are thoroughly cleaned post-transfer.
While Japanese knotweed might seem daunting, understanding your responsibilities and available solutions can help you manage this invasive plant effectively. Whether you choose to tackle it yourself or hire a specialist, staying informed is the key.