Knotweed Calling …

Author: Mike Clough

Date Posted: Wednesday 2nd September 2020

Invasive plant problems, will it ever end?

It’s an interesting question.

I am actually a qualified landscape architect. I set up Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd (JKSL) as a response to the increasing number of enquiries that I was getting with regards this troublesome plant.

I did not expect that twenty odd years later I would still be dealing with the same issues. I had imagined that people would get the hang of dealing with problem plants and that Japanese knotweed would have been banished from our shores.

I imagined that JKSL would be a short lived business – I was also well aware that in eradicating the plant that provided me with a business I was actually kind of shooting myself in the foot. I didn’t over think the situation, it never occurred to me that I’d still be doing the same thing years and years later ….

So…do we see an end to the situation?

A certain individual – who shall remain nameless – mainly because he’s a dick – has suggested that our invasive plant problems will all be over by 2040.

I’m guessing he’s got that date by thinking – ‘hmmm – when do I want to retire ….2040 sounds a good date…’

He has suggested that, because house builders are more savvy to dealing with Knotweed and the majority of new housing developments will all have been cleared of the plant prior to development, then lo…the days of Japanese knotweed are numbered.

However, he misses one key element in his thought process. Actually, he misses loads of key points but I’m being generous here …

The major Japanese knotweed growth in the UK is not on development land. The majority of Knotweed growth is on poor undeveloped land, contaminated brown field industrial sites and river frontages.

These sites will not be improved without huge tracts of money being spent – huge tracts of money that are simply not available.

With flooding now being a regular event, the risk of spreading of these plants is also hugely increased. The reduced funding of the Environment Agency also ensures that the chance of massive linked efforts to deal with catchment wide problems of invasive plants is unlikely to happen.

People will also only spend money when there is a reward at the end of the investment. This leaves it highly unlikely that land that cannot be developed, will ever have funds spent on it to clear invasive plants.

So, yes, developed housing estates may well see a fall in problem plants …but I do not as yet see a world where Japanese knotweed doesn’t continue to cause issues.

I’m also afraid that many of the ‘so called’ eradication companies dealing with Japanese knotweed …are not very good at what they do. Certain patented systems just don’t work and I’m sure the future will see claims and counterclaims as the plant resurfaces in areas where it’s supposed to have been removed.

So, even though I will have retired – I’m not seeing an end to the invasive weed control industry any time soon.

Mind you – if everybody just used JKSL for their weed control issues …maybe the UK could become Knotweed free ….????


Mike C

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Mike Clough

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