Taking on a weedy plot is like going to war. You need to arm yourself with tools and maybe even have to resort to using chemicals to deal with the most aggressive plant thugs, which are lined up in this ID parade. Be aware, that if you don’t take action quickly, they will take over your plot and ruin your gardening efforts and maybe your neighbours too!
Japanese Knotweed – Fallopia japonica
The bamboo-like Japanese knotweed has bright foliage that becomes speckled with red as it ages
It produces white flowers that clothe the entire plant in late summer that attract hoards of insects
Japanese knotweed has spreading roots that are the bane of many gardeners’ lives because new plants can sprout from the tiniest section of root, reachinh the dizzy height of almost 3m, which have the strength to smash through tarmac paths and suffocate any native plants that are in its path. Its such a serious weed in some areas that in 1981 a provision was made in the Wildlife and Countryside Act, making it an offence to allow it to grow or spread in the wild.
This invasive weed is notorious for spreading quickly and can damage buildings and roads, yet on the plus side, a clump can become a valuable habitat for insects, spiders, frogs and grass snakes and the nectar rich flowers attract bees and other pollinators. And when its hollow stems crash to the ground at the end of the growing season, they are used as a invaluable habitat in winter by insects.
You could try digging outs small clumps or cover the area with black polythene in the hope that it will die out but as eradication can be difficult, it’s best to call in the professionals to remove it once and for all.
Take note, that having Japanese knotweed growing in your garden can knock thousands of pounds off the value of your home and make buying, selling and re-mortgaging a nightmare, as mortgage lenders are reluctant to lend on properties with potential structural problems.
The latest update on the problem…https://www.independent.co.uk/…/japanese-knotweed-tiny…
Couch grass – Ellymus repens
The very tough perennial weed, couch grass, spreads itself by sending a dense network of ‘runners’ underground
Also known as twitch grass, this aggressive weed can become a real nuisance, as even the tiniest piece of couch grass rhizome roots left in the ground will develop into a new plant that will creep in all directions and choke border plants.
It’s possible to dig it out providing that you remove every scrap of ‘root’, which usually form a dense mat just below the soil’s surface. Alternatively you could try smothering it with a strong black polythene blanket that will exclude light and in time kill off the plant.
Ground elder – Aegopodium podagraria
This nightmare ground-hugging perennial plant has elder-like leaves and in early summer decorative flat white flowers held on tall stalks
Ground elder quickly becomes nuisance, especially in shady hedge bottoms, because it produces masses of thin roots that rampantly spread and penetrate the root balls of neighbouring plants choking the life out of them. In summer plants may grow up to 90cm and produce heads of white flowers followed by seeds that scatter the seeds in all directions.
Although it may take several seasons, smothering it with black polythene can work as can spraying with Bayer Long Lasting Ground Clear – take note that chemical spray drift will kill off all green plants growing nearby
Leyland cypress – x Cupressocyparis leylandii
Growing up to 10m tall, a Leylandii hedge blocks out sunlight and starves the surrounding soil of moisture
Whilst this popular conifer is hardy and wind tolerant, it is so rampant, growing by as much as 90cm a year. When a leylandii hedge is allowed to grow unchecked, it has been the cause of many neighbour disputes due to its massive stature. If routinely trimmed once or twice during the summer it can be controlled. However, if you need to remove an overgrown hedge, you will need to employ a professional tree surgeon with specialist equipment, which is very costly.
Check out the Hedgeline helpline (www.hedgeline.org) if you need advice.
Russian vine – Fallopia badshuanica
Escapees from the garden can be seen smothering hedges with its creeping stems – so keep your eyes peeled
This flowering climber belongs to the knotweed family and is so fast growing that it’s commonly known as Mile a Minute. It is almost unstoppable and will invade other plants and buildings wrecking gutters and lifting tiles in the process. It also creates lots of shade and will suck the life out soil leaving other plants dying of starvation.
On the positive side, it is popular with bees and is long flowering and very reliable in tough situations.
To kill the plant, you will need to cut off all the top growth – this can be shredded and composted, then kill the roots with Roundup Tree Stump and Root Killer, which leaves no harmful residues in the soil.
Running bamboo –Phyllostachys
Bamboo is a kind of grass and one of the fastest plants on earth
Ornamental varieties of bamboo have proved to be valuable garden plants and useful for focal points and adding structure to the garden as well as screens.
Whist there are clump-forming bamboo, which are not too invasive, there are some such as Phyllostachys that produce long underground stems that will spread rampantly if not contained within a strong physical barrier. When planting it’s therefore advisable to line a trench with concrete paving slabs allowing them to protrude above the soil surface so that roots can escape and run through the surrounding soil.
Bindweed – Calystegia silvatica
Don’t let bindweed’s attractive leaves and trumpet blooms fool you – it’s a nasty weed!
This pernicious weed, which also goes by the name of hellweed, which is quite apt as it’s a devil to get rid of! Clambering up to 3m its twining stems will run through borders looking for supports and as they climb will smother the life out of herbaceous perennials and even shrubs. The roots also dig deep and especially the Lesser or Field Bindweed, Convolvulvulus sylvatica, whose roots will penetrate the soil up to 10m deep.
Both plants can regenerate from the tiniest fragments of thick, white root, so if you decide to pull out the plant you may end up spreading the problem far and wide. Covering the ground with black polythene for a year or two works but for quicker results you could try Richard Jackson’s Double Action Weedkiller, which is extra fast working and very effective, as it also contains a special ingredient which stops the weeds’ roots from growing and they eventually die. As it is based on natural ingredients, this weed killer is environmentally friendly too.
When handling bindweed avoid getting the irritant sap on your skin.
Horsetail – Equisetum arvense
Horsetail pushes up through compacted soil from roots which may be up to 6m deep
The black, wiry rhizomes of horsetail produce the ferny green shoots, which grow up to 30cm tall, in mid spring. The roots go very deep underground, making it difficult to eradicate them but you may succeedif you hoe or dig out the weed as soon as they emerge and cover bare soil with black plastic mulch.