How did Japanese knotweed even get here?
Despite being introduced to the UK with the best of Victorian intentions – along with many other parts of Europe during the 19th Century – the legacy of Japanese knotweed is one which still impacts negatively to this very day. Brought back with the upper classes of Victorian society who routinely travelled to broaden their horizons, the chosen items were used to entertain and educate the masses on their return. With tales and physical evidence of their grand touring, the Japanese knotweed was considered quite the catch at a time when the study and collection of exotic flora and fauna was encouraged to those who made their careers globe-trotting.
During this golden age of science and reasoning, the gardens of the aristocracy were turned into seas of new colours and species, enjoyed until either boredom set in, or it was simply replaced by something even newer and more interesting. This ultimately meant that the Japanese knotweed suffered the same fate as everything else during this period of discovery; namely being discarded by the wayside once the initial excitement and interest had faded.
That wasn’t the end of the story from this plant, as it was from this wayside that the discarded Japanese knotweed began taking root, impacting the ground where it had been used as a means of provision for cattle as both alternative food and ground coverage. Cast aside in disused quarries, waterways and anywhere where it was primarily out of sight and mind, the aggressive knotweed began to thrived and sadly continues to do so today; thanks in no small part to the fact that it can regenerate over and over, almost reminiscent of something from a Sci-Fi film.
Regenerate? Come on, is it really that bad?
Even the most miniscule fragments of stem or rhizome can take root and easily replenish and re-flourish in the form of new plants, aided and abetted by a rapidly regrown original root system. Year on year, Japanese knotweed is unwittingly chopped and dumped, in turn exacerbating its spread. It’s only in relatively recent times that the full extent of this seemingly relentless damage has been mapped by experts in this field, leading to the strict control of the disposal of Japanese knotweed stems, roots and contaminated soil when unearthed.
Ok, fine, but what damage does it actually do?
So, what about the collateral damage which Japanese knotweed can cause; just how extensive can it be? Although not quite on the Doomsday scenario scale of a horror like The Day of the Triffids, the dreaded knotweed can and will be responsible for widespread damage, and even destruction, where it takes hold. This is why you need a contingency plan in place should your property come under the impact of the fearsome weed, provide by knowledgeable and qualified professionals. With the knotweed being relatively random in its approach, Japanese knotweed has no game-plan other than to take root on as many properties as it can, an uninvited guest that leaves in its wake a substantial damage to buildings, underground services and landscaped surface areas.
The knotweed’s impressive penetration of surface level landscapes would almost be something to respect, were it not for the fact that the trail of costly damage and destruction far outweighs it, with asphalt, patio slabs and block paving all being vulnerable to the spread of Japanese knotweed.
If you want to know the full extent of what it can do to a property, just google “Japanese knotweed damage” and see what comes up. There’s a trail of horror stories of it delaying or even derailing commercial builds, and even stories of a couple who had to demolish their property when it wasn’t dealt with. It’s no exaggeration to say that major cases can cost tens if not hundreds of thousands.
Ok, there are always scare stories. Can it really attack a house?
The fearsome knotweed won’t have its territorial gains compromised by the presence of man-made surfaces, as its able to force its way through any weakness in the formation in its unstoppable quest for light sources. Put it this way; Japanese knotweed can grow up through the tiniest crack, taking advantage of any water that can go down the seemingly harmless crevices in the first place. Japanese knotweed can also easily impact on underground sewers, drains and land-drains as it weaves its way backwards and forwards, unnoticed by the naked eye until full evidence of its impact is there for all to see.
Those previously mentioned structural fixtures and fittings are particularly susceptible to the advancement of Japanese knotweed, with just the smallest hole on a section of pipe (or joint) being more than enough to encourage the knotweed’s water-seeking rhizome. This rhizome, once tapped into the source, will continue to grow and outstay its welcome by means of blocking the drain, in many cases eventually cracking and breaking it.
Buildings are equally prone to the threat of Japanese knotweed, especially so if it’s been left to its own devices for a significant passage of time, which could well have been going on for years without the property owner’s knowledge. Speaking of passages, did you know that Japanese knotweed can grow in cavity wall spaces? Vents and air bricks are all it takes to tempt the most uninvited of plant guests to come a lot closer to home than you’d like. Once it does make itself at home, the chances are that as and when it multiplies, it has the strength to expand the two skins of the wall so much so that it can crack and even split due to the constant pressure.
Elsewhere, boundary walls and fences can take an indirect hit from Japanese knotweed laying waste to any existing support. There’s one element that does put up a decent fight when confronted with the menace of Japanese knotweed, and that’s concrete. That said, while penetrating concrete doesn’t happen, the weed can locate a weak spot and grow through it, gradually prizing apart an existing weakness or crack in the joint.
So, how do I get the issue sorted?
Well, as you’ll no doubt have picked up, Japanese knotweed is an absolute nuisance that can do a heck of a lot of damage if left unchecked, and possibly even more so if treated incorrectly. That’s why it’s so vital to let seasoned professionals like ourselves help you get confirmation and subsequent help.
If you have even the slightest worry that you may have Japanese knotweed present, visit our Contact page to find the exact email and phone details for your region. We’re happy to speak to you in more detail about how we can help you with any aspect of Japanese knotweed identification, treatment and removal.