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How we treat weeds

Weed Spraying

Our weed spraying programme for the public highway (pavements/roads/streets) starts every year from March or April through to October. We will carry out three boroughwide sprays during this period (weather dependent). Each boroughwide spray takes approximately six weeks to complete and we cannot spray weeds in wet or windy conditions. It will take 12 to 15 days for the weeds to die off and turn brown. We will then remove the weeds as part of our routine cleansing.  Removing the weeds too soon will result in a rapid and vigorous re-growth.

Weed Control

Currently the Council uses weed killing products containing Glyphosate to treat weeds on the public highway, estates and parks. The public highway is weed treated three times a year between March and October. Parks and open spaces are treated twice a year between March and September. Japanese knotweed is treated once a year in late summer.

We do this to: 

  • Reduce trip hazards by preventing weed growth on pathways, sports courts and other hard surfaces.
  • Comply with legal duties to control invasive weed species such as Japanese Knotweed.
  • Provide high quality turf sporting facilities.
  • Manage weed control cost effectively and efficiently.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in many herbicides (weed killers) and is widely used around the world. Since it was approved for use, Glyphosate has been subject to extensive testing and regulatory assessment in the EU, USA and other countries and is the worlds most used weed killer.

The EU and UK has rigorous approvals processes for pesticides. The main aim of the processes is to protect the health of people, animals and plants and to safeguard the environment. The EU and UK directive is that Glyphosate is safe to use.

In 2017, The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) Committee for Risk Assessment reviewed the available scientific evidence and reached the conclusion that “glyphosate is not a carcinogen and does not cause genetic or reproductive effects” when used in compliance with manufacturer instructions.

The Council continually reviews the use of the pesticides and has trialled some pesticide free alternatives to weed removal in the past including mechanical equipment and gas burners. None of these trials so far have been as efficient or cost effective and we will continue to use Glyphosate as part of an integrated approach in conjunction with mulching and manual weed control for the control of weeds within parks.

A small number of authorities have stopped using Glyphosate based weed killers for less effective more expensive methods. Other local authorities have continued to use Glyphosate as they have not found a suitable replacement that is as cost effective and gives good quality weed control.

Without other efficient and cost effective replacement products on the market, weed removal would have to be undertaken via mechanical means. This would dramatically increase the cost and would also increase CO2 emissions, usage of petrol and potentially increase risks to staff from hand arm vibration and noise exposure through use of mechanical alternatives.

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese knotweed (fallopia japonica) is a persistent invasive plant. It spreads easily, is incredibly difficult to control and get rid of and can cause structural damage to buildings.

More information on how to control or eradicate Japanese Knotweed.