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Invasive species of plants — check your building

As the weather starts to warm up, perusing the rows of plants in the garden centre, it seems that one of the nations most invasive species is available in a range of forms. Buddleia; irresistible to butterflies and a favourite with gardeners. Fast growing with plumes of flowers it seems innocuous enough? Buddleia davidii, to give its latin name, which originated in China, is viewed by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as an invasive non-native species. On any train journey it can be seen trackside, with its familiar purple plumes.

The problem is that its seeds spread far and wide and can self seed in your garden however it can also lodge in cracks anywhere on your building, on the roof — quite the opportunist. Pulling it out is not recommended as you can also pull out the mortar in which it sits or parts of the roof requiring a repair.

As property managers we are very familiar with this plant as well as a range of others. The cost to remove some of these plants can become a bone of contention since this can require a cherry picker or other special equipment if access is limited. With overhanging trees If you fail to correct this and someone is hurt, you may find yourself in court accused of negligence.

By no means are ALL climbing plants bad for your house, some can genuinely provide benefits which we look at in a minute, but be warned; some climbing plants are very aggressive in the way they anchor themselves to your walls and, if left unchecked, can cause serious structural problems.

Regular Instances when we encounter climbing plant issues
When we are required to redecorate your building, clearly, painting behind a climber is an issue. When we are called to unblock drains or guttering, climbing plants who have made their home there are an obvious issue.
Ivy clad walls are an attractive thing. Having just removed an enormous aged beast of an ivy from a large building wall, the wall has required significant repointing. Like Buddleia, Ivy sends its roots into any crevice as it rambles across any surface. Again as property managers we recommend that you do not plant ivy especially in multi occupancy buildings.

As a rule, plant plants that can be reached by ladders once in full growth. A climbing plant should never be allowed to grow into the roof-space nor in and out of the gutters. It can also block and destroy guttering as well as provide a simple climbing frame for any stray rodent to enter the property.
This is not to say you cannot plant these but you must pay attention and prune regularly. The ramifications of many of these plants can be long term.
Here are the top plants we ask you to think about before you plant.

1. Ivy, for reasons above
2. Any form of vine
3. Wisteria.
4. Buddleia, (remove flower heads before they go to seed)
5. Clematis Montana
6. Virginia creeper
7. Climbing Hydrangea
8. Star jasmine

By Tim Darwall-Smith, Director, Sandrove Brahams Property Management Services