The idea of buying or selling your home can be stressful enough on its own. It seems sensible to give the front door and windowsills a fresh coat of paint, or perhaps it would be a wise idea to spruce up your path with neutral colors.
But it is the unforeseen problems that arise that by definition blind you and can cause the most fear. And who would have thought that these could be some of the plants in your garden.
Real estate experts remind us that it’s worth renovating your front and back yard to make sure there’s nothing nasty behind it. This is because it turns out that shrubs and weeds can cause untold damage — not just to the property itself, but to its value as well.
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To help homebuyers and sellers discover which invasive plants to watch out for, expert surveyors at Stokemont.com ranked five plants based on how difficult they are to remove. Real estate expert Bradley McKenzie also gives some helpful tips on how to deal with any cheater.
1. Japanese Knotweed
The dreaded Japanese knotweed tops the list as one of the most problematic for property value and the most difficult to remove. However, with its bamboo-like red shoots and shovel-shaped leaves, it is not that hard to spot.
This invasive species can grow up to 3 meters in height in spring and summer. The scary thing about this plant is that its roots can reach 20 feet underground — and under your house.
Not only can it destroy pipes, drains and pavement, but it can actually weaken a property’s foundations, Stokemont said. This is why it is listed as a property defect in the Homebuyer Reports of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). According to RICS, it can reduce the price of a home by 5 to 15 percent.
“It’s really important to monitor clearly and take immediate and thorough eradication actions before it’s too late,” says Bradley McKenzie. “We strongly recommend that you seek professional help with removal, as they recover easily from even the tiniest remains. If you prefer to do it yourself, pesticides are the most effective method of killing those zombie-like plants!”
Who would have thought that English ivy, the same one you can see in quaint thatched cottages in rural scenes, could be a deal killer. Commonly seen across Europe, it is actually dangerous.
With strong wall-climbing ability, this garden intruder can easily penetrate your wall cracks, damage the mortar and bring moisture or leaks to the house. That sounds like something worth avoiding if possible, but experts say it’s not too difficult to remove.
“Unlike giant hogweed, English ivy could be removed with bare hands by gently peeling them from the wall,” Bradley said. “It is also possible to kill them by cutting off their roots and allowing them to dry out. However, not all wall climbers are harmful, such as Boston Ivy, so we recommend consulting a professional before accidentally cutting some beautiful and safe plants from your wall.”
3. Giant Hogweed
Like the Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed is also invasive with its rapid spreading ability. Easier to see in June and July, this cow-parsley-like plant has thick green stems with purple spots and white flowers in the shape of a round umbrella on top.
Widespread across the UK, especially around rivers and ponds, the sap is phototoxic and can cause severe burns or scarring under sunlight, Bradley warns. “While no direct damage is done to the property, buyers can still refuse to pay a higher price if they attend due to the high removal costs – up to £15,000!”
4. Poplar, willow and oak trees
While most trees do no harm, large trees such as poplar, willow and oak can be dangerous if grown too close to a property, according to Stokemont.com. That’s because their roots, although shallow, grow very quickly. In fact, they can spread up to 40 meters from the tree. They can also suck up to 1,000 liters of water and nutrients from the soil. Naughty plant.
Bradley said: “They can live to be about 50 years old and are more difficult to remove as their roots get thicker and larger over time. Their age, soil type, location and depth all matter in deciding if your tree is a problem. Grown too close to your property they can lead to further risks of foundation cracks, subsidence and other structural defects potentially costing you £5,000 to £25,000 to repair.”
5. Himalayan Balm
This garden looter was brought to the UK from India in 1839 and grows up to 3 meters in height and can be recognized by its pink flowers in summer and early autumn. But despite its beauty, experts say it is increasingly becoming a problem for homeowners.
It can spread 800 seeds over several meters of your garden. The plant can cause problems because of how fast it grows – and spreads. This allows it to kill other plants by starving them of light, nutrients and water.
“It poses no physical danger to humans, but its significant ecological impact on wildlife and associated laws are not favored by buyers,” Bradley said. “So it’s recommended that you control or eradicate this plant, and make sure it doesn’t spread to your neighbor’s house, as it could be illegal.”