What is it & What Does it Look like?
Japanese Knotweed or Fallopia Japonica was brought from Japan to the UK in the 1850’s. It was initially loved for its beauty, with its interesting heart or shovel shaped leaves and bright red spotted bamboo like stalks. By 1854 it was being sold commercially by nurseries.
In Japan it is found on the side of volcanoes and due to the different climate as well as ash from the volcanoes it grows very little, and the plants stay relatively small. However, in the UK with a different climate and no volcanoes it grows rapidly, up to 20 cm every day in some cases. Due to how tall and quick Japanese Knotweed grows it suffocates all other plant life around it. The large leaves stop all other surrounding plants from getting sunlight.
What do I need to look out for?
Dependant on the time of year there are different things to be keeping an eye out for:
- In the spring look out for red shoots appearing from the ground, they look similar to asparagus.
- Lime green shovel or heart shaped leaves, these can grow up to 20cm in width.
- In the ground there will be large dense root systems which are known as rhizomes.
- Stems grow in a zig zag pattern and at each point a leaf grows.
- At the start of august and end of July creamy white flowers appear that attract bees.
- In September and November as the plant starts to die back, you will be left with brown hollow stems that look like bamboo.
How did it spread?
Originally wealthy Victorian landowners bought and planted Japanese Knotweed for there botanical gardens. It is believed the main method of how Japanese Knotweed took over the UK was by firstly people disposing of the unwanted plant as well as people sharing cuttings of the plant.
It can take just a small piece of the rhizome (root system), weighing just 0.8 grams to initiate the growth of a new plant, so now there are laws in place that do not allow you to transport it without strict regulation. They believed it spread even more so when moving soil for new developments and road building. Also, it is seen often by the sides of rivers and watercourses and due to this it can spread further down-stream.
Ann Connolly a Knotweed expert found examples of the plant being planted outside gardens was in the 1960’s & 70’s in Wales where it was used to stabilise loose soil in the coal-mining valleys.
How is it destructive?
In its nature Japanese Knotweed is resilient, it’s fast growth and has the ability to grow back more densely after you try to cut it down makes it a pain to live with. It has an alarming ability to make its way through materials like concrete and tarmac. It can find its way into your home in some cases where it has been left untreated. This can potentially cause damage to your home’s foundation as well as drainage. Below ground is where most of this damage comes from due to the plants rhizome system which are large and dense and can go to a depth of 3 meters!
Check out this video if you’d like to see how much damage it really can cause to a property.
How can it affect you as a homeowner?
If you think you have found Japanese Knotweed on your property and you are not sure, you may have to call a specialist out to come identify and diagnose the extent of the problem which will cost somewhere in the region of £100. The price you pay for a professional knotweed eradicator will vary depending on the extent of your outbreak but in some cases can cost thousands.
The total cost on the UK economy is £166 million for treatment of Japanese Knotweed, as well as in home devaluations. Analysis calculated that it knocks about 10% of the value of a property, on average this equates to £23,530 and more than 5% of UK hones are impacted in some way by Japanese Knotweed. 5% of UK homes would be the equivalent of around 1,450,000 properties, meaning the total deduction could be up to £34.12bn. This news article describes how one woman could lose up to 50% off the value of her home!
The financial effect it can have on the property as well as the potential to damage the building structurally means it must be disclosed on a TA6 conveyancing form that you have Japanese Knotweed on your property and if you have had it removed. If you do not disclose this when you do have an infestation, then you can be taken to court. There have also been cases where mortgage lenders will not lend if there is an infestation on the property or on a neighbouring property.
How can JKW Claims Help You?
JKW Claims will organise for surveyors to assess your Japanese Knotweed infestation, they will also figure out the extent of the problem. We then work with solicitors to get you the maximum amount of compensation to help fund the removal of the plant.
If you think you may have an infestation please Get in touch today.