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Plants that can Damage Your Property

Katie Cullen
Written by Katie Cullen
19th January 2017 (Last updated on Friday 12th April 2019)

There are several plants that can damage your property. The main plants to be aware of are:

  • Japanese Knotweed
  • Oak, Willow and Poplar Trees
  • English and Common Ivy
  • Lime and pine trees

This guide from Compare My Move reveals how to effectively look after your property and to get rid of certain plants that cause damage to your property.

This article will cover the following points

Japanese Knotweed Oak, Willow and Poplar Trees English and Common Ivy Lime and Pine Trees

Japanese Knotweed

How Japanese Knotweed Damages Your Property

Japanese knotweed can grow as fast as 10cm a day and is capable of forcing its way through concrete, foundations, walls and drains.

The plant can cause subsidence, major cracks in brickwork and damp.

Although you are under no legal obligation to declare the presence of Japanese knotweed on your property, you could face fines of up to £5,000 and/or 6 months in prison if the plant spreads past your boundary. Neighbours can also file a civil lawsuit if the weed causes damage to their property and can be sourced back to your garden.

Identifying Japanese Knotweed

The plant can be identified by its white flowers and bamboo-like stems which grow as high as 3m in the summer.
Japanese knotweed grows fastest in the summer months and will fade during the colder winter months. However, a plant can survive from any root the size of a fingernail, so complete removal is extremely necessary.

How to Remove Japanese Knotweed

A specialist contractor is required to remove this plant as Japanese knotweed is controlled by the UK government. All parts of the plant and any contaminated soil are classified as controlled waste and must be removed in the correct manner.

Oak, Willow and Poplar Trees

How Oak, Willow and Poplar Trees Can Damage Your Property

Oak, willow and poplar trees growing close to your property can cause subsidence, structural damage and blocked drains.

There are several ways in which a tree may damage your property. Much like Japanese knotweed, tree roots have the capacity to break through some concrete and drainage pipes.

Trees can dry soil out in the surrounding area in spring and summer seasons, potentially causing ground shrinkage under your home’s foundations. Shrinkage is not too common, but could cause costly subsidence if your property is within proximity to the tree.

Buildings up to four storeys built before the 1950s are most at risk of subsidence caused by a tree due to their comparatively shallower foundations.

Roots will always grow to where there is water, and drainage pipes are no exception. Roots can usually find a way into drainage systems, causing damage to underground piping, potentially flooding your garden.

Identifying Oak, Willow and Poplar Trees

Oak trees will grow acorns among the distinctively shaped leaves. This type of tree will also have a thick trunk can grow up to 70 feet in height.

Willow trees often grow near water and have distinctive long narrow leaves cascading down the tree’s vines.
There are more than 25 species of poplar, which grow in a variety of different ways. The most common poplar tree is the cottonwood, which grows tall and thin, and can often be used to create hedgerows.

How to Remove Oak, Willow and Poplar Trees

To remove the tree, you will most likely have to hire a tree surgeon, who will safely remove the tree and kill the roots with a specialist fluid to ensure nothing continues to grow.

If you are unsure about whether your tree might be an issue, property surveyor will usually pick up any cause for concern.

English and Common Ivy

How English and Common Ivy Damages Your Property

English ivy is known to lift roof tiles and pull away guttering. These climbing plants support themselves with aerial roots that penetrate cracks or joints in your masonry and could cause your interior walls to become damp.

Other self-clinging plants such as Boston ivy and Virginia creeper do not cause any damage to your property.

Alongside these issues, all forms of climbing plants can be used by small wildlife as access into your home – whether it be spiders or small rodents.

Identifying English and Common Ivy

While English or Common ivy may look similar to Virginia Creepers from a distance, the pesky plant can be identified by the dark berries growing along the plant in the spring and summer seasons.

English ivy is always green, whereas Virginia Creepers and Boston ivy can be found in a green or reds and purples.

Removing English and Common Ivy

When undertaking work, or removing ivy from your house, make sure that there are no birds nesting beforehand. It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.

Ivy can be removed from your building by hand, and remember to kill the roots in your brickwork and any roots that are grounded, otherwise the ivy may return. A simple weed kill spray should be enough to kill the roots of the ivy.

Lime and Pine Trees

How Lime and Pine Trees Damage Your Property

Lime and pine trees are notorious for secreting sap on whatever is below. Parked cars, patios, driveways and your house could all be subject to the sticky residue that falls from these trees in the spring and summer seasons.

Although it is not advised to remove these trees unless you absolutely must, it is important to keep an eye on its surrounding area.

Residue that falls on your property can easily cause damage to paintwork and become a safety risk on patios if not dealt with.

How to Identify Lime and Pine Trees

Lime trees can be identified by their small, downward facing flowers that grow in spring and summer underneath long and thin leaves. The most common species of lime tree has a five-point green leaf, while others will have more rounded leaves with a serrated edge.

Pine trees are often thin and tall trees which grow pine cones that will fall to the ground in the autumn. Pine trees are easily identifiable from their branches, which are covered in small pine needles.

How to Remove Lime and Pine Trees

Although it is possible to remove these trees yourself, we recommend hiring a tree surgeon who will kill the roots with specialist fluid. This ensures that the lime or pine tree will not grow back over time.

If you're in the process of buying a home your property survey should bring up any issues that could be caused by plants and trees surrounding your property. If you're worried we recommend calling a specialist. You should compare surveyors to get the best price for your survey.