Invasive Species

We’ve lived in this neighborhood for the past 19 years.  When we first moved in, we’d not yet purchased the house, it was a ‘way-station’ (or so we thought) because our previous rental house had been sold out from under us.  Consequently we needed to find a new place to live fairly quickly, and pickings in our area were rather slim.  As it happened, we looked a bit on our own for an apartment, but quickly discovered that any apartment that we thought about renting was going to be too small for our needs.  Between my wife and myself we have a LOT of stuff, so it’s always been better to either rent or buy a house to live in (though for the early years of our marriage, we rented houses exclusively).

My wife hit on the idea of contacting real estate agencies and telling them that we weren’t looking to purchase a property, that we were looking for one to rent, or maybe even rent to own (rent the property for a time, allow it to be shown when needed, and maybe over time purchase it ourselves if it continued to appeal to us).  We found one nearby that was receptive to the idea (most weren’t) and had the agent looking locally for one that fit the bill.  We got a call from her about a week later, and she showed us a 2-story federal architecture house that was built in the late 1830s.  It had a very small piece of property (0.17 A/0.068 ha) but it was in a nice neighborhood.  After looking over the house from top to bottom (didn’t take long) we walked the grounds a bit and noticed an overgrowth in the backyard that was seriously almost taking over completely one corner of what might have been a flower bed at one point.  I asked the realtor if she knew the species, but she didn’t.  The homeowners didn’t live in the area, they were semi-retired and living in Tennessee in one of their other two homes.  I then asked the realtor if we rented the property, would the homeowners mind if we did some landscaping on our own, and she said that she would ask.  We didn’t make a decision at that point, but soon after we did, and ended up renting the property (the realtor had come back with an answer on landscaping, and the response was yes, provided we didn’t do anything major like cutting down trees)

We decided to rent it, since it was the best of the bunch of the rentals we’d either found ourselves or the agent had brought us to.  We moved in November of 2000 and in the spring set to work on getting some control of the land and the respective gardens.  The species that had concerned me the previous fall looked like bamboo, and after a little investigation, it turned out the owner of the property had planted something called ‘japanese knotweed’ and it’s considered an invasive species.  Over the last nearly 20 years, we’ve been trying to get rid of this menace.  The major problem is, while I’m seriously attempting to get rid of the knotweed on my side of the fence, of my two neighbors, one is doing nothing but letting it grow, (and renting the property to people who don’t do anything with it) and the other one is cultivating his, because it grows to 8-10 feet tall by late summer and makes a nice visual blocking agent between my property and his.  When he moved in, I called over the fence and mentioned to him about the stuff and what it was, that it wasn’t a good idea to let it grow unattended and I thought he listened to me, but apparently he didn’t care or figured it was ok to allow it to flourish.

Consequently, every spring I end up with shoots that are coming through the ground in the one corner of the property, and a forest of old growth on the property line nearby that I can’t do anything with.  So as not to kill everything in the former bed we’ve been using natural remedies rather than something like Roundup™,  which the jury is still out whether or not it’s a carcinogen.  Better safe than sorry in the long run, we’re thinking.

Even so, unless we can get the neighbors on board, it’s a losing battle.  If I eventually succeeded in getting rid of it on my side of the fence, the fact that it’s growing unabated on the other two sides, means that there’s still a root forest under the ground that’s waiting to come up on my side.  So, the battle continues.  I’m fairly convinced by the time we move on, it’ll still be here.