IF you haven’t already heard of the plant ‘Japanese Knotweed’ or if you don’t know what it is or what it looks like, it’s probably a good idea to start filing in those gaps.

People often say things like mint or horseradish “grow like wildfire” and “can take a lot of digging to get rid of.

Well Japanese Knotweed is a bit like that, but 100 times worse.

Imagine mint that could grow through concrete, or undermine the structure of buildings; imagine horseradish you could never just dig out yourself.

Now you’re starting to get a feel for what an utter nuisance Japanese Knotweed is.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to search online for pictures of Japanese Knotweed and then head out to your garden and start checking, particularly if you live next to a railway or open fields.

If you are unlucky enough to find any, whatever you do, don’t start trying to dig it out yourself. You simply won’t be able to do it. This is because of the way it grows and spreads through its rhizomes.

To the naked eye it may look like you’ve got it all, but you won’t have done.

Not only is it impossible to dig out Japanese Knotweed yourself, but if you do try then you’ve got another problem on your hands. You’ve got plants and soil that you know have been contaminated by Japanese Knotweed.

It is a criminal offence to dispose of those products. So you’ve left yourself with a garden that, despite your best efforts, will still have the plant in it, and a lot of soil that you simply can’t dispose of without committing a criminal offence.

The only way to eradicate it once found is through extensive treatment programmes by professionals. It’s not cheap, but the alternatives don’t bear thinking about either.

If Japanese Knotweed is identified promptly and properly treated, it need not be a major issue. If however it goes undetected, it can have a significantly adverse effect on property prices, not only for the property that has the plant, but for neighbouring ones too.

In some cases mortgage companies will even refuse to lend against properties with severe cases of Japanese Knotweed.

That could leave you stuck with a property you cannot sell, or leave you selling only to cash buyers, which could further reduce the value of your property.

Recent cases have confirmed that failing to take action to eradicate Japanese Knotweed could constitute a “nuisance” which may entitle owners of neighbouring properties to damages, possibly equivalent to the loss in value caused by the existence of the Japanese Knotweed.

The old adage that “prevention is better than cure” often applies in litigation. It is never more pertinent than when talking about Japanese Knotweed.

For further help or advice, phone Lupton Fawcett senior solicitor Daniel Edwards on 01904 561424 or email Daniel.edwards@luptonfawcett.law.

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