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NEW: Knotweed data shows 'map' of infestations in Maidstone

Friday 27th May 2022

IT IS the country's most invasive plant species - scourge of the property vendor and gardener alike.

When Japanese knotweed was delivered in a box of specimens to botanical researchers at Kew Gardens in 1850, it was favoured for its quick growth and pretty heart-shaped leaves.

What gardeners did not realise was that the plant was super-aggressive in its ability to spread - sending roots 10 feet underground and 20 feet horizontally, in all directions.

The first a home-owner knows it is a problem is when the plant's purple shoots start to find cracks in concrete and tarmac, footpaths, drains and driveways.

A new survey published by a company specialising in Japanese knotweed's removal shows a 'heat map' of Kent's infestations.

The data claims there are 20 instances of the weed within a 4km radius in Maidstone, which is relatively low in comparison to Tunbridge Wells (47) and Canterbury (30).

Japanese knotweed is presently at its peak growing season.

Once pale leaves have sprouted, the stems become bamboo-like and grow at about four inches a day.

It can grow in large dense clumps, standing more than eight feet in height.

Nic Seal, spokesman for Environet which compiled the heat map, said: “Japanese knotweed tends to strike fear into the hearts of homeowners but, as long as they’re aware of its presence and take action to remove it before it causes any serious damage or spreads to a neighbour’s property, there’s no reason to panic.”

Experts advise professional treatment, usually herbicide or excavation, but should be sure to secure an insurance-backed guarantee for the work.

Whilst the weed can be eradicated, it can hold up the sale of properties where it has been identified as a potential threat. House values can be affected by 5% and cause friction and even legal disputes between neighbours.

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