A year in Japanese knotweed

2013 in review


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Despite being a menace to gardeners and property owners up and down the land, Japanese knotweed became an infamous headline grabber in 2013.

There have been scare stories on TV and in print, reassurances from government approved bodies and even Japanese knotweed cookery tips doing the rounds.

So, what happened this year to make Japanese knotweed garden enemy #1?

Quarter 1: January 1st to March 30th

The first two months can be skipped over as, with most plant life, you wouldn’t have seen too much of Japanese knotweed in the winter, as its outward appearance will have been reduced to brittle brown stems. Spring is just around the corner though.

In March the PCA launched a new Japanese knotweed code of practice. At this point in time the biggest news story surrounding Japanese knotweed was the number of fly-by-night cowboy operators who had set up their own Japanese knotweed removal services and were making a poor job of it. Subsequently, the PCA set up a knotweed code of practice that all PCA approved contractors would have to work to.

PCA CEO Steve Hodgson said "Ultimately [the code of practice] will offer further assistance to consumers who want to separate those who can control Japanese Knotweed from those who think they can.”

In late March, the BBC reported a man in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, had been prosecuted for growing Japanese knotweed on his own property. This was the first of many Japanese knotweed stories that would surface over the summer.

Quarter 2: April 1st to June 31st

As spring becomes summer, Japanese knotweed grows to its tallest and most abundant, so this, of course, meant that every Japanese knotweed story in the second quarter of 2013 could be accompanied by someone enveloped by huge swathes of spade shaped green leaves.

Northern Ireland was yet again leading the knotweed charge, when it was reported that invasive plants were costing the Northern Irish economy an estimated 46.5m a year. This was followed by the story on the UK mainland of a council being accused of spreading Japanese knotweed.

By early June, we knew Japanese knotweed was becoming big news: celebrities were getting involved!

Scottish actor Tom Conti was telling the press about his problems with nasty knotweed, which were also affecting his celebrity neighbours Esther Rantzen, Melanie Sykes and Thierry Henry. Tom Conti was also the first person we spotted comparing Japanese knotweed to sci-fi killer plants the Triffids. This inspired our own MD Les Meikle to write a fun blog comparing the two.

Quarter 3: July 1st to September 30th

In July the press became truly obsessed with Japanese knotweed. Stories popped up about families losing £20,000 from the value of their homes, and many banks and building societies began refusing to lend on any properties affected by Japanese knotweed

This led to a number of Japanese knotweed specialists being approached by the press. Wise Knotweed Solutions even ended up in The Sun newspaper in August sharing our knotweed knowledge.

In late August a number of brokers began to demand greater clarity on the damage that Japanese knotweed could cause. This lead the PCA to publicly assure borrowers that Japanese knotweed was not the “house cancer” it was being made out to be.

Despite reassurances from within the industry, new Japanese knotweed mortgage warnings were appearing from a number of brokers in September. Again, leading the PCA make the point that Japanese knotweed can be dealt with.

Quarter 4: October 1st to December

Autumn saw the beginning of a new trend: Upbeat Japanese knotweed stories. A number of local newspapers began highlighting community efforts to raise funds to have Japanese knotweed cleared from embankments, public parks and allotments.

There were also a spate of quirky Japanese knotweed stories. A number of chefs had jumped on the knotweed bandwagon and were coming up with all sorts of Japanese knotweed recipes. We also thought we would get in on this trend and produce a Japanese knotweed recipe card. Just so you know, it tastes a bit like rhubarb.

Of course, as the weather got cooler, Japanese knotweed across the country started to shed its leaves and the stems turned brittle and brown. This time last year there were a number of cases of people uprooting Japanese knotweed, assuming it was dead, and dumping it. To help avoid more cases of this nature we decided to put together a blog post warning people about the potential consequences of DIY knotweed dumping whatever the time of year.

Identify Japanese knotweed throughout the year

  • Spring – Identify Japanese knotweed in Spring
  • Summer – Identify Japanese knotweed in Summer
  • Autumn – Identify Japanese knotweed in Autumn
  • Winter – Identify Japanese knotweed in Winter

Will you need a knotweed expert in 2014?

So, that was a whole year in Japanese knotweed and we are getting prepared to see what 2014 will bring.

If you need to speak to a Japanese knotweed expert about treating and eradicating Japanese knotweed from your property, then give Wise Knotweed Solutions a call on 0808 231 9218 or alternatively use our online contact form.