With spring now taking a firm hold, it is the time that a lot of people put their properties on the market.  Not just to make the most of the long daylight hours but because gardens look their best from now until the end of autumn.

Our gardens are filled with decorative non-native plant species but, there is one non-native species you really do not want anywhere nearby: Fallopia Japonica, better known as Japanese Knotweed. And if your garden (or any neighbouring gardens) has it, it could considerably reduce your chances of a quick sale.

Introduced to Britain around 1850 as an innocent shrub, it can now be found all over the UK. It has tall, dense stems, a heart shaped leaf with a pointed end and is typically a lush green colour.  In the winter, it hibernates into shrivelled, bamboo-like stems with no sign of leafage but in the summer can grow up to 4 inches every day!

It spreads mainly when soil is moved around to build roads and new developments; just 0.7g of its creeping underground stem can generate a new infestation. Concrete, tarmac and floorboards present little challenge to the spread of this aggressive weed.  In the lead-up to the 2012 London Olympics more than £70 million was spent on clearing it from a 10 acre area and it has been estimated that it would take at least £1.56 billion to eradicate it altogether in the UK.

When you sell your property you’ll be asked if your property is affected by Japanese Knotweed and, if so, whether there is a management plan in place.  Japanese Knotweed cannot be eradicated overnight, and management plans typically last for five years.  Treatment is costly and if you fail to control Japanese Knotweed you can face criminal prosecution and large fines. As such, the presence of Japanese Knotweed can result in a drop in the value of properties with some cases of a 50% decrease in value being reported.

If you are selling – think ahead.  If there is evidence of it, or there is a history of it in the area, a specialist survey will be required. Lenders will demand a professional eradication plan and will most likely not lend until the homeowner has provided evidence of a plan being in place.

If you are buying – be on the alert for the weed. Not just in the garden but in the neighbourhood as well. Buying a house next door to a house which has succumbed to knotweed puts your property at risk of the weed spreading.

For advice on Japanese Knotweed and its affect on your property choices, get in touch with Farleys residential property specialists on 0845 287 0939 or email us here.