Early growth of Japanese knotweed in spring with new shoots and leaves growing

One thing about the Japanese knotweed is how it always catches land and homeowners unawares during the first weeks of spring. Rapidly, the Japanese knotweed‘s canes can grow from tiny shoots to about 3 meters in height.

Identifying Japanese knotweed in spring can be a tricky deal. During this period, this weed can be mistaken for several other weeds of the same species.

Identifying Japanese knotweed is a vital skill that will save you trouble and your hard-earned money.  Unfortunately, the characteristics of this knotweed differ depending on the season.

For example, the plant will die and become dormant during winter but appear to be growing in early spring. By knowing the characteristics of this plant, you will be able to identify it during any season.

Identification of Japanese knotweed in Spring

How to identify Japanese knotweed in spring

The Japanese knotweed in spring usually emerges in March. At this time, the plant is red- pinkish buds appearing from the ground. Most people liken the spring shoots to asparagus spears.

The plant grows unstoppably into a hard and thick structure, which has a prominent purple speckles pattern.

The green leaves begin to appear from the stems in April. The weed’s leaves are shovel or heart-shaped with a pointed tip. They grow alternately, creating a distinct zigzag pattern on the stem.

Japanese knotweed in spring showing early signs of growth with new shoots
Japanese knotweed in spring showing early signs of growth with new shoots

What is the impact of Japanese knotweed?

Each year, the UK spends a vast sum of money on Japanese knotweed treatment and infrastructure alignment. Additionally, the country loses more money in property devaluations each financial year.

The knotweed spreads so fast to the extent of suffocating and killing other plants within the same ecosystem. The weed is also a threat to structures and drainage systems. It can grow up 10cm a day in spring.

The rhizomes system can grow deep to about 3 meters and 7 meters horizontally in every direction hence causing cracks on houses, tarmacs, and underground water pipes.

It is difficult to get rid of this plant; it quickly grows back and spreads further when its stems are cut to remove it. Unless you hire a specialist, it may not be easy to get rid of this weed completely.

The weed’s smallest piece of rhizomes will quickly grow into an invasive plant within some months. The weed can thrive anywhere, even at the slightest chance.

Some property owners cannot find buyers for their homes because of the presence of Japanese knotweed on the land.  Unless one has an eradication program in place, it becomes an uphill to get to sell the property.

Where does Japanese knotweed grow?

In the UK, the Japanese knotweed grows in any part of the country and causes considerable damage to properties. The weed grows faster in damp areas with proper shade. This is why Japanese knotweed in spring is the best time to identify it and create a plan to eradicate it.

Japanese knotweed in spring
Japanese knotweed in spring

Japanese knotweed and the law

What does UK law say about the Japanese knotweed? First, contrary to what most people assume, Japanese knotweed is not a notifiable plant.

According to the Anti-social behaviour, crime, and policing Act 2011, individuals must take appropriate action to remove and prevent the spread of invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed.

The UK law classifies Japanese knotweed as controlled waste; this is according to the Environmental Protection Act 1990. For this reason, digging out the weed may lead to lawsuits over the disposal.

The wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is an offence to cause Japanese knotweed to grow in the wild. This means that it is illegal to dump the knotweed anywhere.  

Several measures are put in place by the UK government to ensure that spread of invasive plants is controlled at all times.

What should you do if you find Japanese knotweed?

The first step is to ensure that you are not panicking for no reason that the plant is genuinely Japanese knotweed. You may hire a weed specialist to help you identify the plant when you are not sure.

It is crucial to act fast when you find Japanese knotweed in your garden. The most common method of Japanese knotweed removal for a small infestation is digging up the root system. This method is much faster than the use of herbicides.

However, according to the law, as stated above, you will have to dump your waste in a licensed public landfill. Another downside to this method is that it can be tiring.

You may not use this method in areas with extensive rhizome root systems;  you will have to hire heavy machinery that can dig deeper into the soil and uproot the roots completely. Remember, even the smallest of the fragments will grow into a new plant.

Another preferred knotweed removal strategy is covering the area with a translucent material.  Do not trim the knotweed stems since they will pierce the material, thus the ineffectiveness of this method.

The most effective method of knotweed eradication is the use of herbicides.   Glyphosate weed killers are the most preferred chemical compounds that have previously shown impressive results when it comes to Japanese knotweed eradication.

Remember that the weed has an extensive root system, it will take a couple of treatments repeatedly for some years to kill the weed completely. The Glyphosate herbicides work by rapidly penetrating the stem to kill the cells as fast as possible.

Other environmentally friendly methods are being tested; these methods are meant to replace the chemical treatments that are harmful to other vegetation and air pollutants.


SaleBestseller No. 1
Roundup Tree Stump Weedkiller, Super Concentrate 250 ml
  • Kills ivy japanese knotweed, saplings, brambles and nettles to the root
  • Kills up to 16 tree stumps
  • Contains a reusable pipette for specialist treatment of japanese knotweed
  • Kills the roots so weeds don't come back
  • Degraded in the soil by micro organisms
Bestseller No. 2
Bayer Garden 2 x Path, Patio & Drive Weed Killer & Watering Can Set - 3 x 8g Sachets per pack treats upto 75sqm - Kills Ground Elder, Nettles, Docks, Couch Grass & Japanese Knotweed.
  • This exclusive twin pack and 9L Watering Set is everything you need for clearing weeds from paths, patios and rives including areas of tarmac, concrete and block paving.
  • Kills tough weeds and their roots including: Ground Elder, Nettles, Docks, Couch Grass, Japanese Knotweed, Brambles, Bracken & Ivy.
  • Each box contains 3 x 8g Simple ready measured soluble doses and treats up to 75sqm. Apply at any time when weeds are showing green leaf and are actively growing.
  • Sold with our durable 9L or 2 gallon capacity galvanised steel watering can with removable brass rose. Colour cannot be guaranteed. Watering can will be randomly picked and despatched.
  • Keep children and pets away from treated areas until the spray has dried.
Bestseller No. 3
Bayer Garden 2 x Path, Patio & Drive Weed Killer - 3 x 8g Sachets per pack treats upto 75sqm - Kills Ground Elder, Nettles, Docks, Couch Grass & Japanese Knotweed.
  • Ideal for clearing weeds from paths, patios and rives including areas of tarmac, concrete and block paving.
  • Kills tough weeds and their roots including: Ground Elder, Nettles, Docks, Couch Grass, Japanese Knotweed, Brambles, Bracken & Ivy.
  • Each box contains 3 x 8g Simple ready measured soluble doses and treats up to 75sqm.
  • Apply at any time when weeds are showing green leaf and are actively growing.
  • Keep children and pets away from treated areas until the spray has dried.
Bestseller No. 4
Rootblast 360 5L Pump Sprayer Glyphosate Weedkiller 1L with integral measuring device Pair of Gloves 1L makes up to 50L
  • Contains 360 g/l glyphosate, The same as most Professional Grade Herbicides.
  • For use on unwanted vegetation and areas not intended to bear vegetation.
  • First signs of control, a yellowing of the leaves, may take from a few days to 2-4 weeks to appear.
  • 1 Litre of 360 g/L makes 50 litres of standard ready to use glyphosate weed killer
  • Comes with a pair of gloves, 5L Pump Sprayer and integral measuring device. NOTE: The Colour and brand of the sprayer may vary due to stock availability

Want to know more about Japanese knotweed in spring?

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 on 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 – knotweedremovaltips@gmail.com

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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