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Guidance and Responsibility

Who is responsible for controlling knotweed?

It is the responsibility of the landowner or the tenant of the affected land to control, treat and dispose of the Japanese knotweed.

What is the Government doing?

All Departments have begun successfully treating the plant on Government land. The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture advises both Government and private landowners on the most effective methods of controlling the knotweed. Successful control of this plant on the Isle of Man can only be achieved with the co-operation of private landowners.

Guidance for property developers

It is important to identify whether Japanese knotweed is present as it can grow through up to a metre of concrete and tarmac causing extensive structural damage, resulting in high costs to fix the damage.

If Japanese knotweed is found on the site:

  • Cordon off the area where the knotweed is situated in order to prevent machinery accidentally spreading the material across the site. Do not remove the knotweed material to another site for disposal

  • Treat the knotweed with an appropriate herbicide before work commences on the area. This can be done at any time when there are leaves on the plant. Herbicide treatment of soil contaminated with knotweed rhizomes can also be carried out. Repeat herbicide applications are likely to be necessary

  • Dispose of knotweed leaves and stems by burning on site if possible. Otherwise knotweed contaminated green waste and soil will need to be buried to a depth of at least 5 metres. The potentially viable knotweed material should then be covered with a geo-textile layer (for example, Lowtrak) or a heavy gauge polythene sheet prior to infilling

  • Remember that 1 herbicide treatment will not be sufficient and the knotweed is likely to re-grow for several years

How can you control Japanese knotweed?

Cultural (non-chemical) treatments

It is very difficult to remove large and long established infestations without the use of herbicides. Cutting every month during the growing season will eventually weaken the plant. However, it could take many years to fully eradicate the weed.

Hand pulling is more effective than cutting, as it removes the crown and part of the rhizome. However the pulled stems and rhizome can easily take root and spread so the correct disposal of this material is important. Pulling can be used for small colonies in environmentally sensitive areas, such as alongside streams, and control should be achieved in 3 years.

Shading out the knotweed using plastic sheeting with the addition of a mulch or bark chipping has been tried, but is less effective than chemical treatment.

Chemical control by herbicides

Chemical control is the most successful treatment for controlling knotweed as it kills the extensive rhizome system, but even this may take several years to fully eradicate the plant.

The most commonly used herbicide at the present time is glyphosate, (for example Roundup Bio Active) which may be obtained in a number of products for use in both commercial and amateur garden situations. For gardens, pre-mixed hand held trigger sprayers can lead to good control.

Another herbicide that could be used is 2, 4-D amine, which is more selective and will not affect grass. Both glyphosate and 2, 4-D amine are approved for use in or near watercourses provided an appropriate preparation of the chemical is used. Care should be taken when applying glyphosate near trees and shrubs, as any spray drift may cause severe damage or kill the affected plant. Please read all product labels before use.

When to treat

Best advice suggests 3 applications through the year – spring, mid-summer and late autumn. Spring application allows the herbicide to be applied when the plant is only 1 metre tall and there is plenty of leaf to absorb the chemical. By summer the plant could well be over 3 metres tall, making safe application to the leaves impossible. It may be necessary, therefore, to cut back the established growth (ensuring, however, safe disposal) before spraying, and again spraying the re-growth in late autumn when the plant is channelling nutrients back to the roots.

How to treat

Spraying is the most effective treatment but take care to avoid drift and damage to non-target plants such as neighbouring plants, shrubs and lawns. It is best to spray when there is only a very light wind and when the weather is likely to be dry for 24 hours afterwards. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely when using herbicides and to wear appropriate protective clothing.

Take care on paved, waterlogged and steeply sloping areas to ensure that the herbicide run-off does not contaminate a watercourse. On paved surfaces or porous surfaces like gravel, care should be taken to ensure herbicide run-off does not seep through onto surface roots, where uptake may lead to the death of a tree.

Weed wipers or impregnated weed gloves can be used for foliar application by applying the herbicide directly to the leaves.

Future treatments:

Year 1: For optimum effect, spray the plants with herbicide in April, June and September.

Year 2: Spray the plants as in Year 1. Make sure that the affected area is marked out so that any small remaining plants can be found the following year.

Year 3: The growths are very tiny – a few centimetres in height, but they must be treated thoroughly again or the plant will re-grow.

How should I dispose of Japanese knotweed material?

Japanese Knotweed waste including the stems, leaves, rhizomes and crowns must be disposed of responsibly to prevent spread of this plant into new areas on the Island and to avoid committing an offence.

  • Do not compost the stems or other parts of the plant
  • Do not allow plant material to contaminate watercourses or other habitats
  • Do not cut, strim or flail knotweed as this can spread cuttings

On-site burning

Usually the most appropriate method, but do not cause a nuisance to your neighbours or danger to road users. Consider the wind strength and direction before burning. Burn thoroughly.

Application of herbicides near to streams and watercourses

Herbicides, which are not approved for use in or near watercourses, should not be applied within 5 metres of a watercourse (Code of Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Water).

Commercial application

A Certificate of Competence is required for chemical treatments to commercial, agricultural and horticultural land. For further advice contact Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture.

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