Most properties need maintenance over time to deal with many issues from dry rot to condensation and damp, however many homeowners do not realise the potential devastation that can occur from plants within the garden surrounding your property. There are in fact hundreds of invasive plants throughout the UK that can cause huge structural problems if left untreated. These include plants such as Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed, and Himalayan Balsam. In most cases they were imported many years ago for their aesthetic qualities but as they do not have their natural native plants to control them within the UK they have become overwhelming and aggressive to other neighbouring plants and properties nearby.

These invasive plants can cause problems for native species within the UK and reduce biodiversity which is a major threat worldwide due to the import of non-native plants. As a result of this, it is illegal to intentionally plant any of these invasive plants or allow them to spread and develop. Giant hogweed can, in fact, be a problem to human health and Japanese knotweed can damage concrete and structures of buildings due to its strength. If you discover any invasive plants on your land or property, it is important to seek advice and eradicate it as soon as possible, as it can also hinder selling your home quickly.

There are many ways to help remove invasive plants such as using chemicals, digging, cutting and burning them after they have dried out. You also have a legal responsibility if they are on your land to remove them and arrange safe removal. Many of these plants cannot be disposed of in general household waste due to the risk of contamination and will need to be taken to a licensed landfill site.

Whether you manage to completely remove the invasive plant, you must comply with government environmental legislation which means you must not allow them to spread onto adjoining land or property, and you must not deliberately plant these or encourage them to spread.

Other invasive plants are in fact native to the UK but considered dangerous or invasive and known as ‘injurious weeds’. These include the common ragwort, spear thistle, creeping or field thistle, curled dock and broadleaved dock. As with any other invasive plant, if you identify any injurious species of plants on your land, it is your responsibility to control them, by preventing them from spreading.

It is a good idea to keep an eye on your land and regularly try and identify any of these invasive plants. Spotting them early can help to destroy the plants and prevent any potential problems. It is also a good idea to seek advice from a specialist if you are unsure or contact your local environment department. By dealing with the problem early you can prevent excessive costs, damage to buildings and harm to the environment. If you knowingly leave invasive plants to spread and they consequently cause damage to neighbouring land or properties you may be liable for prosecution.

by  Cormac Henderson

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