Many of us may have heard of the exotic-sounding plant Japanese knotweed — and if that’s as far as it goes, you’re lucky. We may have picked up on stories in the papers about how this is one particularly difficult weed to control and that it may cause various problems. But, seriously, all this talk and reams of newspaper articles about a weed?
Those who have not just simply read or heard about Japanese knotweed but have had direct involvement with this invasive non-native species can tell you all the talk is justified. For this is no ordinary plant. In fact, it’s been branded a “superweed” for very good reason.
Once it takes root in your garden or elsewhere on a property, Japanese knotweed will almost certainly prove to be the ultimate botanical warrior. No matter how much weedkiller you douse it with or how many times you try and dig it out of its spot in the garden, it will just keep on sprouting up all over the place and trying to take over. It doesn’t care if it wrecks your home in the process.
Identifying a Garden Beast
So, what does Japanese knotweed look like anyway? How do you know for certain that you’re dealing with this bully from the plant world and not some random and relatively harmless weed? You need to find out swiftly, because there’s real potential for structural and other types of damage to a property otherwise.
The plant starts growing in the spring, when it sends up shoots that could be mistaken for the knotty ones of bamboo. But in the early stages of growth, they more closely resemble asparagus, and they’ll be either red or purple. Another clue is that these new shoots will quickly shoot up — to as high as three metres in a relatively short time.
Its rapid growth will continue during the spring and into the summer months, during which time it can grow by up to 20cm in a day. You can almost see this headache of a weed growing before your eyes, or at least see a noticeable difference in its size every day. By now, the leaves will have turned green and will be a sort of oblong heart-shape, and it will flower in the late summer, when off-white blooms appear.
After a season of non-stop growth, Japanese knotweed sheds its leaves in the autumn and lies dormant throughout the winter. But that’s not the end of it, as it will start all over again come next spring. If you’re still puzzling and trying to figure out what does Japanese knotweed look like, there’s no need to tear your hair out. Some companies provide a free Japanese knotweed identification service.
How to Give Japanese Knotweed the Boot
The first thing to do when you realise you have Japanese knotweed on your property is not to try and deal with it yourself — a pointless task — but to reach for the phone or your laptop and get professional help. Anything else is just going to use up lots of time, effort and money, and in the end, you’ll more than likely still have the infestation problem.
The professionals dealing with Japanese knotweed will use a powerful herbicide to banish the plant for good. It’s usually not that costly, but it does take some time — up to a year or more — for it to be effective. They can also do a full-on dig-out of the plant, carefully removing every last trace of Japanese knotweed so there’s nothing left to start regrowing.
What’s more, the top Japanese knotweed eradication firms will provide homeowners with an insurance-backed guarantee. This means if the plant does start to grow back, they’ll do extra work for no additional cost. The guarantee normally lasts for five years and is extendable to ten. Now, thanks to all this, Japanese knotweed is a home-wrecker no more.