There are a number of invasive weed species that have been introduced into the UK and are now causing serious damage to our natural ecosystems.

These invasive weeds can quickly take over an area, displacing native plants and animals and damaging the local environment.

This list provides information on the most common invasive weed species in the UK, including their identifying features and how to control them.

What are invasive weeds?

Invasive weeds are a major problem in gardens and landscaping. They are fast-growing plants that crowd out native vegetation, and they can be very difficult to control. Common invasive weeds include Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed, Himalayan Balsam, Horsetail and Hedge Bindweed.

These plants are often resistant to herbicides, so they can quickly take over an area if they are not kept in check. invasive weeds can also spread disease and pests to other plants, making them a threat to the health of your garden.

If you suspect that you have invasive weeds in your garden, it is important to take action immediately. Pulling them by hand is often the most effective method of control, but you may also need to use herbicides or other chemicals. With careful management, it is possible to keep invasive weeds from taking over your garden.

It might be challenging to determine whether a new plant in your garden is an invasive species and, if so, what you should do about it. In order to learn more about some of the most prevalent invasive weeds in the UK, let’s take a closer look at them.

Japanese knotweed flowering in late summer
Japanese knotweed flowering in late summer

Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia Japonica)

Of course, Japanese knotweed has to be at the top of our list. Japanese knotweed, one of the most pervasive and harmful invasive plant species in the UK, can quickly make its way into your garden and wreak havoc on your house.

Japanese knotweed may sprout from a small number of rhizomes in the soil, which is one of the main reasons it is so challenging to control. If you don’t get help, you could end up having to pay a lot of money for legal and structural repairs. Learn more about our Japanese knotweed treatment strategies to quickly control this invasive species.

Best method to remove – herbicide treatment is best as it soaks into the roots which develop deep into the ground and provides the best opportunity over time to eradicate this invasive weed. There are several different herbicides that can be effective at killing Japanese knotweed, but it is important to choose one that is specifically designed for this plant.

Giant Hogweed growing wild in a field
Giant Hogweed growing wild in a field

Giant Hogweed (Heracleum Mantegazzianum)

The second plant on our list is giant hogweed, a prevalent invasive species in the UK that originated in Southern Russia. People are unaware that giant hogweed can truly be dangerous to humans. When handling giant hogweed, extreme caution must be exercised because the sap contains compounds that can cause the skin to blister.

The tall, leafy giant hogweed resembles cow parsley in appearance. It has sturdy stems and unique white flower heads that rise up to the sky. Similar to Japanese knotweed, growing enormous hogweed on purpose is illegal.

Ideally, you should seek treatment right once you discover an invasive weed on your property. Make sure you have on protective gardening gloves and a face mask if you intend to touch it yourself.

Best method to remove – If you have a small infestation of Giant Hogweed, you may be able to remove the plants by hand. Be sure to wear gloves and long sleeves when doing this, as the sap from the plant can cause skin irritation. If the plants are too large to remove by hand, you can use a weed whacker or other power tool to cut them down.

Himalayan Balsam, an invasive weed in the UK
Himalayan Balsam, an invasive weed in the UK

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens Glandulifera)

Although the Himalayan balsam appears to be a sweet little flower, it actually has a darker side that you may not be aware of. In the spring and summer, each Himalayan balsam plant produces explosive pods that release almost 1000 seeds. As a result, it is a fairly widespread invasive plant in the UK.

It is frequently found close to riverbanks, where it can swiftly reach heights of more than 6 feet and smother nearby plant life.

Best method to removeGlyphosate is the most effective herbicide for killing Himalayan Balsam. Over time, smother it with mulch as this will prevent the plant from getting sunlight, which it needs to grow and should stop it from returning.

Horsetail Equisetum, a bright green invasive weed
Horsetail Equisetum, a bright green invasive weed

Horsetail (Equisetum Hyemale) 

Horsetail is an invasive, evergreen plant with an odd appearance that prefers damp environments. It has tall, green stems, as you can see, giving it the appearance of waterside grass. Horsetail, on the other hand, is not a grass species; as a result, it transmits spores as opposed to seeds in order to proliferate.

Horsetail possesses creeping rhizomes that can bury themselves up to two metres into the earth, similar to Japanese knotweed. This makes it very difficult to entirely eradicate this invasive species.

Making your soil friendly to other, more desirable plants is one of the simplest strategies to control a horsetail infestation. Although horsetail is an invasive species, it has little ability to compete with other species. Horsetail will eventually be smothered if you can control the growth of other plants and keep the horsetail shoots short.

Best method to remove – If you have a small patch of horsetail on your property, you can remove it by hand. Pulling up the plants by their roots will kill them and prevent them from growing back. If there is a large infestation, or if you don’t want to take the time to pull up each plant by hand, you can use herbicides to kill the weed. Be sure to read the label carefully and follow all instructions, as herbicides can be harmful if used incorrectly.

Hedge Bindweed, an invasive weed in the UK
Hedge Bindweed, an invasive weed in the UK

Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia Sepium)

This aggressive invasive weed is known as hedge bindweed, which makes removal exceedingly challenging because it can grow around other plants and trees. Because of its distinctive white trumpet-shaped blossoms, hedge bindweed is very easy to identify.

Despite being highly attractive, this plant poses issues when it stifles the growth of other natural plant species. If left unchecked, this proposal may negatively affect our natural areas’ biodiversity. If you realise that this invasive species is harming the other plants in your yard, seek assistance right away.

Best method to remove – If the bindweed is in a larger area, you may need to use a lawn mower or weed whacker to cut it down. You can also use herbicides, but be sure to follow the directions carefully so you don’t damage other plants.

In conclusion

Invasive weeds are plants that have been introduced to an environment where they did not previously exist and which cause harm to the local ecosystem. The main problem with invasive weeds is that they can outcompete native plant species, leading to a loss of biodiversity.

Additionally, many invasive weed species produce toxins that can poison animals or humans. For these reasons, it is important to be vigilant about identifying and eradicating invasive weeds from your garden before they become established.

Want to know more about invasive weeds?

Knotweed Removal aims to provide the most up-to-date information, help, and advice for YOU to make informed decisions. If you are unsure or uncertain about how to proceed, please reach out to us and we will gladly come back and advise you as best we can.

Governmental advice can be found here and the UK law covering the removal of Japanese Knotweed as stated under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 can be found here.

The best means to contact us is via our email –

Do not forget we have a library of blogs covering many areas relevant to Japanese Knotweed, our free downloadable How-to Guides, and Product Reviews on the latest methods being employed to eradicate or remove Japanese Knotweed.

Knotweed Removal, UK

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