What classifies a plant as a weed?
A weed is any wild plant that is growing where it was not explicitly planted, and in many cases is not wanted in the places it has spread to. Many different plants are considered weeds, and many types can be harmful to deliberately planted gardens, green space or public properties, resulting in the death of other plants and even safety and damage concerns to buildings, transport lines and structures.
What weeds should I be concerned about?
Depending on your needs and location, there are a variety of different weeds you may be concerned about. These include:
- Japanese Knotweed, which can cause significant damage to properties and structures, and spreads rapidly if not controlled
- Giant Hogweed, which can lead to blistering or burning when it comes into contact with human skin
- Himalayan Balsam, which outcompetes native plants and can overtake gardens and green land very quickly
How can I identify and report a non-native or invasive species of plant?
If you would like to have a better understanding of how you can identify potential invasive plants in your property or within the countryside, alongside rivers or lakes, the GB non-native species secretariat website provides insight into how to identify these plants effectively.
Any non-native species you identify should be reported efficiently by including the date, location, quantity and grid reference of where you found it. Taking a photograph may also help with further identification. This can be reported through the suggested sources on the NNSS website.
How do I ensure non-native plant species are contained?
For non-native and invasive species on your property, you should take care to ensure that you aren’t spreading these species any further by performing additional planting or planting unknown species within your property or outside of it. It is illegal to spread non-native species knowingly, and you should also do your best to ensure that any species in your garden are contained and disposed of effectively to prevent spreading.
What are my legal concerns and obligations for non-native species of plants?
Legally, you are not allowed to release, plant or otherwise allow the spread of any non-native species into the wild. You are not legally required to control invasive species on your land, but this is considered best practice as any non-native species spreading to the land surrounding your own may lead to civil legal action against you. Other best practice guidelines can be found here:
Who is responsible for invasive or non-native species in public locations?
The landowner or manager is expected to control the spread of non-native species in their spaces, though they have no legal obligation to manage the already established invasive species. However, as a member of the public, you can still report sightings of these species, especially if you see they have spread.
What permissions do I need for the management or removal of non-native species and weeds?
When using pesticides in your land, it’s important to note that you cannot use these near public waterways, and at the very least must consult your local government before doing so. Beyond this, for professional-level pesticides, a certificate of competence is required. Resources about the control and disposal of these plants may change from county to county, so consult local information for further guidance.