Japanese Knotweed – a growing problem for the modern FM

Adam Brindle, MD of The Grounds Care Group and Japanese Knotweed expert, explains the challenges faced by facilities managers in eradicating this most pesky of plants.

The Japanese have long provided the UK with a wealth of precious commodities, from reliable cars to ingenious electronics. However, one of their least welcome exports (notwithstanding karaoke!) that has made its way to our shores is Japanese Knotweed. This most troublesome guest began its

UK staycation in the 1850s when it wowed Victorian botanists with its exotic appeal, and soon became commonplace in any well- to-do garden. However, modern gardening trends soon moved on and this horticultural flavour of the month, and its resilient roots, were discarded by the wayside. Little did the gardening gurus of the

day know, they were actually unleashing a fiendish devil weed into the wild, since Japanese Knotweed can regrow from just a 2mm fragment of root, that’s just what it did. The inhospitable rocky terrain of the quarries and roadsides where it was dumped were nothing to this voracious vine that found its origins on the hostile slopes of volcanoes in Japan. Today, 150 years on, it remains the blight of

modern day facilities and property managers up and down the country.

The pesky plant isn’t always easy to

identify, and although it can look similar to bamboo, they are not in the same family. You’ll know Japanese Knotweed by its spade-shaped leaves, which can grow up to five and a half inches in length. During the late summer, it can also be identified by its creamy-white flowers. On its never-ending search for growth

and sustenance, Japanese Knotweed can grow through brick walls and even concrete when it finds a weak spot. And as it makes its way, it’ll cause untold damage to buildings, foundations, pavements and even invade properties if they get in its way. The power and speed of Japanese

Knotweed would almost be something to admire if it weren’t for the destructive nature of this villainous weed. Ever eager to expand its territorial domination, Japanese Knotweed will infiltrate the tiniest of cracks and wind its wily way through drains and underground sewers. Combined with its tenacity and

resilience, Japanese Knotweed brings a rapacious growth which makes it a truly unwelcome garden

guest and an even less welcome property invader if you’re unlucky enough. Able to grow up to 10 cm a day, Japanese Knotweed will target weak spots in buildings, crack masonry, split pipes and ravage foundations if left unchecked. And it shows no respect for fences and boundaries either, eagerly spreading from one garden to the next above or below ground.

Some of the most common headaches faced by FM’s

Underground services – With its insatiable thirst, Japanese Knotweed will worm its way into pipes through tiny cracks or joints, and from there it will expand locking the pipe and eventually breaking it. Hard surfaces such as asphalt – This is the

Japanese Knotweed damage we see most often. Asphalt, patio slabs, driveway block paving will pose no problem to Japanese Knotweed on its unstoppable quest for light. Basically, if water can drain down into it,

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