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What is Japanese knotweed?

Described by the Environment Agency as “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive and invasive plant”, Japanese knotweed has become the scourge of home and land owners, sprouting up in gardens, building sites and wildlife areas around the country. The pervasive weed has the potential to grow and spread at rapid rates.

Originating is Asia, Japanese knotweed was brought to the UK in the 1850’s for planting in botanical gardens. Its intent was not problematic at first because the bamboo-like appearance made it a favourite of gardeners. However, they soon realized that it had the ability to grow anywhere and everywhere at a very rapid rate. This aspect of Japanese knotweed became very problematic over time.

The troublesome plant puts wildlife at a risk, killing off any plants in its surrounding area. Japanese knotweed is strong enough to penetrate through weaknesses in concrete and tarmac, inflicting costly damage on the walls and foundations of buildings. The discovery of Japanese knotweed has led to mortgages and planning permissions being rejected, drastically reducing the value of the land if it’s not properly taken care of.

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You should always be on the lookout for Japanese knotweed in your garden. Identifying it early on is key to preventing its rapid spread.

To the casual observer, Japanese knotweed can resemble bamboo as it has hollow stems that can reach a height of about 10 to 13 feet each growing season. The roots burrow down about nine feet underground, making it very difficult to remove. It has distinctive raised nodes with a truncated base. The leaves are broadly oval, with compact, white flowers during the summer months.


Although it’s not against the law to have Japanese knotweed on your property, it’s an offence to allow it to spread outside of your property to any surrounding environment. For an individual on-the-spot penalties of £100 can be issued, if prosecuted fines of up to £2500 and companies up to £20,000.

You’re responsible to the containment of the weed on your own land, but if it has spread to your property from an outside area, you should contact the relevant public body and inform them of the sighting. The council or landowner are responsible for controlling invasive plants on the land that they manage. You should include your contact details and the exact location of the knotweed so that its treatment can be added to the maintenance programmes of these bodies.


If Japanese knotweed appears on your land, then there are various procedures to manage its growth. Each option is situational and you’ll need to use a combination of these methods to fully eradicate the weed. Treating Japanese knotweed is a long-term commitment, as several years of treatment are often needed if you choose to remove the plant on your own. It’s important to monitor the area once the last of the Japanese knotweed is removed in order to ensure that no new shoots appear.

The first is option is chemical removal, which is the most cost-effective method and eliminates Japanese knotweed from urban, suburban and rural areas. However, many chemicals can harm the natural environment by contaminating the water or leading to soil erosion.

Another option is excavation removal, which is best if it is a very time sensitive project. You’ll need to be sure that every single piece of root is removed from the land and correctly disposed of at a licensed site, or else it could lead to further growth. On-site incinerations removal is the burning of the plant that reduces the chance for cross-contamination.

The MeshTech removal process was designed by Dr Eric Donnelly and JKSL. It’s the most environmentally friendly process, as it avoids the use of chemicals, protects fertile areas, while also leaving the local flora intact.


Consulting with a professional service will provide you with tried and tested solutions to prevent the weed from returning. JKSL is a specialist in knotweed identification, removal and control, with over 14 years of experience. Those in need of a Japanese knotweed management plan can contact JKSL for professional solutions.


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