Protecting plants has become more than just an aesthetic pursuit, as new laws have been introduced that make people liable for a fine if they fail to identify and eradicate dangerous invasive plant species, such as Japanese Knotweed.
Indeed, failure to destroy these plants or weeds now qualifies as 'anti-social behaviour', according to the new Home Office rules (a tag previously reserved for acts like heavy drinking and intimidation). This is due to the ability of the plant to rapidly spread to other gardens and wreak havoc on a neighbour's property if left to its own devices.
What is Japanese knotweed?
Introduced to England in the 19th century as a form of decoration, Japanese Knotweed is known by the name itadori in Japan, which means 'strong plant'. There's good reason for that, as the weed is extremely robust and has even been known to force its way through concrete.
One can imagine the threat this invasive plant species poses to the delicate flowers of a traditional English garden. The effects of rampaging Japanese knotweed can be apocalyptic florally-speaking, although their dominion extends only to areas that have seen human activity. They are unable to spread to natural forested areas as they are reliant on human interference, providing them with easier access to sunlight and nourishing soil. This is why it's so important to find any Japanese knotweed infestations and eliminate them before clearing the land; otherwise you'll only be clearing the way for their invasion.
Fortunately, there are ways to control Japanese knotweed. According to David Beaulieu, one method is to spray them with weed killers that contain glyphosate, with examples being Roundup, Landmaster and Gallup. They also suggest laying sizable plastic tarps or old carpeting over the growth area in order to smother the weed and restrict its mobility.
Garden maintenance has always been an important part of property investment, as a well tended garden can significantly boost the value of a home while improving your living experience overall. Now there's a legal incentive, as home owners face a fine of up to £2,500 if they fail to identify and destroy any invasive plants, with Japanese knotweed topping the list.
As such, home owners should ensure that identifying invasive plant species is a priority for any valuer who arrives to inspect the property. Prospective home buyers should also ensure that the surveyor proclaims the garden clear of invasive plant species before making a purchase.
Alison Wacey, partner at Stratford on Avon firm Lodders Solicitors, says that “checking for Japanese knotweed and other prolific, invasive plants should be regarded with similar importance as checking for signs of damp or a faulty roof at a property”. You should also note that the process of disposing of Japanese knotweed is subject to certain legislation, as the plant matter is categorised as “contaminative waste”.