IF you own your own home, you'll know you have to be quite organised to keep on top of various payments.
But there's another thing you need to be aware of that can damage and devalue your property, and it's… a plant. Here's all you need to know.
What is Japanese knotweed?
Japanese knotweed is a fast-growing weed which was imported into the UK as an ornamental plant.
It that lies dormant during the winter, before emerging with rapid growth in the spring. In summer it can grow four inches a day.
The weed can root deep in the ground and spoil gardens and can also undermine walls and foundations which could make selling your house impossible.
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Many mortgage firms refuse to lend money on a home which has knotweed nearby, and most insurers deny pay-outs for damage caused by it.
What does Japanese knotweed look like?
The plant has distinctive red or purple shoots that resemble asparagus.
Its leaves are smooth, green and shovel shaped, with stems that look like bamboo canes with purple speckles.
Towards the end of summer, it develops clusters of cream-coloured flowers.
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As winter approaches, its leaves will turn yellow and wilt.
Is Japanese knotweed in my area?
Whether you've already got your own property, or are looking to buy, having a quick check to see whether the weed is known to be in your area is vital.
Thankfully, there are online tools for looking up whether you're in a hotspot.
Invasive plant specialists Environet UK have a heatmap which you can use to see if your property is in a high risk area for knotweed.
How to get rid of Japanese knotweed
If you suspect this stubborn plant has made its way onto your property, there are a few important dos and don'ts, curtesy of our Consumer Crew.
Seek help from experts.
As landowners have a legal responsibility for "controlling and remediating" infestations of it, make sure you deal with it as soon as possible before it spreads further.
Join forces with your neighbours
Japanese Knotweed can spread rapidly through neighbouring gardens, so work together with them to eradicate it.
Ensure your gardening gear is knotweed free
Tools, machinery, soil and other equipment can harbour bits of knotweed root.
Check to make sure this isn't being brought onto your property and clean plant and soil debris from your vehicles and shoes.
Ensure you get a survey done if required
You mortgage company may insist you get a survey if you're in an area known for knotweed.
Check with the firm before choosing a professional.
Employ a specialist firm.
They will be able to get rid of it.
Just cut it down yourself and cover it up
Doing this won't work, as the week will regrow quickly.
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Deny there's an issue
If you have sold the property, there may be a legal claim against you.
Try removing it and putting it in the local authority compost collection
This is illegal, as composting doesn't always kill roots.
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