Can plants damage buildings?

Can plants damage buildings?

I am not a gardener by any means, shape or form and I want to buy my perfect house.
I was horrified to find out that a plant that looks quite inoffensive could ruin my dreams of getting on the ladder. Often the mere mention of Japanese knotweed can be enough to make buyers run screaming for the hills, leaving sellers stuck and unable to sell.
The challenge is that Japanese knotweed grows fast (It can grow 10-20cm a day), can prevent other plants from growing, and create a lot of damage to your property so lenders might not give you a mortgage if the survey reveals that the property you desire is at risk of Japanese knotweed.

What is it?

Let’s get technical…The latin name is Fallopia japonicaidatum. It is native to East Asia in Japan, China and Korea. It was introduced to Britain by the Victorians in the 1800s as an ornamental garden plant.

How to recognise it?

The best time to spot Japanese knotweed is during mid-summer and early autumn.
During spring, reddish/purple shoots appear from the ground and fat, asparagus-like ‘spears’ rapidly lengthen from bright pink ‘crown’ buds.
There are lots of videos on YouTube. Here is a good one.

What the survey should reveal if Japanese knotweed is found?

If a surveyor finds it, they will appoint a specialist to measure the extent of the invasion. The existence of Japanese knotweed on the property, or any land nearby, should be reported to the mortgage company before exchange of contracts. Each lender has their own policy on the matter.

How can it affect your property?

Japanese knotweed can seriously damage your property. It grows through asphalt, destroying walls and underground drains. It also can spread rapidly. It’s extremely difficult to kill.

How can you prevent it?

It is not all doom and gloom… Although it grows rapidly, you can treat and prevent the spread of Japanese knotweed with a chemical called Glyphosate or by digging out the growth.

Read more here:

  • Prevent Japanese knotweed from spreading guidance.
  • I found this good forum on Twitter.

Although it is scary, it makes you wonder how do Japanese people deal with knotweed? In its native Japan the situation is rather different as knotweed is just another plant within a huge variety of plants. Local pests and diseases take care of the knotweed. So, there might be a biological remedy still to be found.
If you are concerned, get a specialist in!