A couple say they have become ‘imprisoned’ in their council house by hyper-aggressive Japanese knotweed.
Chris Moore, 51, and wife Marie, 50, say they have endured ‘five years of hell’ living with the expansive plant, which has taken over their back garden in Yardley Wood,
The couple, who have lived in the two-bedroom home for 18 years, say they can no longer use the garden to relax or hang the washing out, and cannot contain the spread of the knotweed as it grows even more when cut.
Mr Moore said: ‘We loved this house, but now we hate it – we are just so fed up with it. We feel like prisoners.’
Chris Moore, 51, and wife Marie, 50, say they have endured ‘five years of hell’ living with the expansive plant in their back garden in Yardley Wood, Birmingham
Mr and Mrs Moore now have 12 grandchildren, but say the youngsters can never come round to play because there is nowhere for them to go
At its most prolific, Japanese knotweed can grow up to 20cm every day. It can burrow through concrete and Tarmac and its roots can go down up to 3m deep.
The knotweed had started growing behind the shed – just ten feet from the kitchen, which has no plaster on the walls.
Mr Moore is a former Rover manager who now cares for his wife, who suffers from dystonia – a condition where a person’s muscles contract uncontrollably.
From each having two children by a previous marriage, Mr and Mrs Moore now have 12 grandchildren, but say the youngsters can never come round to play because there is nowhere for them to go.
Now Mr Moore is hoping the latest spray used by the council ten days ago will kill the monstrous growth once and for all.
In a statement today, Birmingham City Council said: ‘It would be misleading to suggest we have not been working with Mr Moore on this issue.
The knotweed had started growing behind the shed – just ten feet from the kitchen, which has no plaster on the walls
Mr Moore first noticed the plant more than five years ago when he found ‘this thing sticking up’
‘His garden was treated last year and we used a new type of spray this year that has been tested with great success at other properties in the city.
‘The advantage of the new treatment is that it only has to be applied once a year compared to the previous product which required three treatments annually.
‘We also treated the properties either side of Mr Moore’s address.
‘We look forward to continuing our work with Mr Moore, including the annual application of this new treatment, to address his concerns.’
Mr Moore first noticed the plant more than five years ago when he found ‘this thing sticking up’ and, not knowing what it was, he cut it back – only for the plant to come back with a vengeance.
‘I spent hundreds of pounds on weedkiller like Roundup and it wouldn’t touch it,’ he said.
Mr Moore is hoping the latest spray used by the council ten days ago will kill the monstrous growth once and for all
Mr Moore says it was cut back two years ago, but it has only grown back again even more
‘I didn’t know what it was.
‘Now I know that you can’t cut it otherwise it spreads it and you have to be licensed to treat it.
‘I had a private contractor give me a quote and he said it would be £6,000 to £7,000, with a ten-year guarantee.’
Mr Moore says it was cut back two years ago, but it has only grown back again even more.
‘The stalks were three foot long and like bamboo,’ he said. ‘If we’d gone down there and tripped and fallen they would have gone straight through us like spears.
‘From having a 70ft garden we’re down to the last eight feet as the knotweed has spread.
‘We loved this house, but now we hate it – we are just so fed up with it,’ Mr Moore said
‘The council finally sent someone round on Thursday, August 22 to spray it and they spent half an hour doing the whole lot,’ he claims.
‘We have a two-bedroom house and have offered to move and downsize if they will pay us for our carpets.
‘I’ve lived my whole life in this area but in this house we feel like prisoners.
‘It’s horrible – the neighbours moan if we sit out in the front garden, but how can you sit out at the back?
‘We loved this house, but now we hate it – we are just so fed up with it.
‘Our kitchen hasn’t even got any plaster on the walls.’
In June, 2017 Birmingham City Council said ‘it was his responsibility as a tenant to deal with the treatment and removal of the Japanese knotweed’.
The council have since changed their policy on dealing with knotweed.
Mr Moore then said: ‘The council came out to look at the damage.
‘The man they sent said he would spray chemicals on the knotweed – but this would still mean my garden is out of bounds for at least three years.
‘He was unable to tell me if the chemicals would have an affect on my grandchildren or pets.’
A Birmingham City Council spokesman said in 2017: ‘We will be going out to the property to spray the weeds every four weeks.
‘Ordinarily, we would do it three times a year, but this infestation is particularly bad.
‘We use the same treatment everywhere – including communal areas.’
Mr Moore said today the council worker who visited on August 22 said the council would return every four weeks.
According to Stoke-based company Japanese Knotweed Expert, mortgage lenders are advised to refuse a mortgage on a property where Japanese knotweed is within 7m (23 feet) of the property’s boundaries.
‘This is because, during its peak growing season, Japanese knotweed can spread at a rate of 1.2 metres per month,’ the company’s website states. ‘Therefore the knotweed can easily spread and damage the foundations of the property.’
Administration worker Lara Simpson said the cost of treating an entire garden of this size could cost roughly £5,000 or more, but varied according to the area of spread and whether properties or neighbours were affected.
Usually, a homeowner with the source of the plant decided by a survey would cover the cost of all of the treatment, including neighbouring properties if affected.