Japanese knotweed

Most of us have heard about Japanese Knotweed and how it’s the plant version of a cockroach – indestructible and generally just a pain in the bottom (of your garden). It’s not illegal to have Japanese Knotweed in your garden, but you have to keep it under control; if you don’t, you could be fined up to £2,500 and end up with an antisocial behaviour order – aka – an Asbo. And anyone found spreading Japanese Knotweed into the wild could be fined up to £5,000 or imprisoned for up to two years – so it’s a serious business.

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Where did it come from?

But why is it so bad – after all when it was first introduced to Britain way back in 1825 it was as an ‘ornamental plant’ which suggests it would add a delicacy and exoticness to the average suburban semi. However, Japanese Knotweed soon started to show its true colours and with an ability to grow up to 20cm every day (7.8 inches if you’re old school) it soon took over gardens and proved almost untameable.

Knotweed can grow up to over 2 metres, through tarmac and has roots that can spread 7 metres in all directions. And controlling this bullying bush isn’t easy either; because even if you’ve missed a teeny, tiny part of its root, it’ll grow right back again. It’s so resilient that the government reckons it would cost £1.5 billion to get rid of it – that’s a lot of weed killer.

Will it affect my home insurance?

Unfortunately it’s highly unlikely that a claim for damage caused by Japanese Knotweed would be covered under a home insurance policy. Most policies will not cover you for damage that happens gradually over a period of time and if you know you have Japanese Knotweed in your garden without taking action an insurance provider could take the view that any damage caused by the plant would be due to your own negligence and failure to act – meaning in most cases, you’re unlikely to be covered.

japanese knotweed

Under control

The best thing you can do if you’ve got if you’ve got Japanese Knotweed, is to control it as it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to make a successful claim for any damage caused by it.

When it comes to keeping the plant at bay, it’s always best to get a pro in – doing it yourself might be cost effective in the short term but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up inadvertently spreading it. Japanese Knotweed seeds aren’t fertile in the UK so the plant spreads through its roots – and even a tiny bit of it can sprout new shoots – so it’s best to be cautious.

If you have Japanese Knotweed and don’t keep it under control and it spreads into neighbouring gardens, then you could be held responsible for any damage it causes. If your insurance provider isn’t willing to cover the cost of the damage caused and you don’t agree the damage is your fault and refuse to pay, then you could face legal proceedings as your neighbours seek compensation to cover the cost of damage caused by your wild weed.

If you do end up needing to take things further and the law gets involved, your home insurance may cover you for legal costs if your policy includes legal protection in the event of a legal case being taken against you. You’d need to make sure you read the T&Cs of your legal expenses contract carefully though and discuss it with your provider before you start – because costs can rack up.

What can I do?

There’s no doubt that Japanese Knotweed is the arch nemesis of gardeners and home owners alike. But it can be contained and it can be controlled, you just need to quite literally nip it in the bud.

It’s not the end of the world so don’t despair, as long as you deal with it and be honest about it if your insurance provider asks about it. But whether you have Japanese Knotweed or not, it’s imperative to read the small print of your policy so that you fully understand what is and isn’t covered. So, get the right policy for you – start your home insurance quote today.

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