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Wednesday 8th February 2012
08/02/2012 - Don't get knotted
 

BEWARE if you have a plant in your garden which is lush green in colour has shovel shaped leaves a bamboo like stem and produces white flowers around September to October and which appears to grow rapidly you may find you have Japanese Knotweed!

Japanese Knotweed was introduced into Britain in the 19th century as an ornamental plant however over time it has become widespread in a number of habitats.  It spreads through its crown, rhizome (underground stem) and stem segments rather than its seeds.  The weed can grow a metre in a month and can grow through concrete and tarmac thus damaging buildings and roads.  Apparently just a 1 cm of rhizome can produce a new plant in 10 days and rhizome segments can remain dormant in soil for 20 years before producing new plants.  Solid structures such as tarmac and flooring in houses are no barrier to its growth.

It is down to landowners to control these plants but they do not have to remove them.  However causing the plants to spread by removing or disposing them incorrectly is illegal.  The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 states that it is an offence “to plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild” any plant listed in Schedule 9 Part II of the Act.  This list includes Japanese Knotweed.  If you wish to remove the weed you should closely follow the advice provided in the “Knotweed Code of Practice”.  If you do not need to remove the Knotweed urgently a combination of herbicide treatment and careful excavation should eventually remove the problem, however herbicide treatment may have to be used for three years before the Knotweed stops growing back and even when the plant stops growing back any soil removed from the area is likely to have dormant rhizome and must be disposed of as prescribed in the code of practice so as to ensure it does not contaminate other areas.  It is a good idea to contact your local authority to see if they offer a collection service or have a list of sites which will accept Knotweed waste.  Knotweed waste can be burnt on site under controlled conditions.

Soil containing Knotweed material and burnt remains must be buried on the site where it was produced.  The materials should be covered with a root barrier membrane and then buried at least five metres deep with an inert fill of top soil.  Anyone burying or burning Knotweed waste should inform the Environmental Agency at least one week beforehand.   

Knotweed is not referred to as the “deadly” invader for nothing!

For more information please click on the link below.

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/wildlife/130079.aspx

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