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Frequently asked questions about weeds

Find out answers to the most common questions we get asked about weeds.

Weedspraying schedule Weedspraying schedule

How much money has been allocated for weed spraying the highways and pavements of Swansea?

2023/24 - £118,760
2022/23 - £118,760
2021/22 - £75,000
2020/21 - £75,000
2019/20 - £75,000

What is a weed?

A weed is a plant growing in a location where it is not wanted. On our highways, any plants growing in pavements and kerbs or around drains and street furniture, are weeds.

What level of service can we expect?

Our contractors are employed to keep weeds to a manageable level, we do not expect a weed free surface but we would expect all substantial growth to be treated.

Why control weeds?

Weeds are controlled for the following reasons:

  • appearance - weeds detract from the overall appearance of an area and trap litter
  • safety - weed growth can interfere with visibility for road users and obscure traffic signs. Weeds in kerbs or around drains can prevent or slow down drainage. Their growth on pavements may damage their surface causing broken and uneven slabs
  • structure - weed growth can destroy paving surfaces, force kerbs apart and crack walls, greatly increasing our maintenance costs.

Where are weeds treated?

All pavements and kerbs in residential roads are treated to control weeds. The edges of paths immediately adjacent to walls or buildings are also treated when necessary.

We will treat:

  • public footways
  • kerbs and channels
  • car parks which are owned by the council.

Please remember there are 1,500km of footway so weed spraying is a long process.

Where will the council not treat weeds?

We are not responsible for treating private land or property owned by other public bodies or private organisations. We won't treat highways which have not been adopted by the council.

How are weeds controlled?

Weeds are controlled using environmentally approved and effective herbicides. When the herbicide is applied to a weed, usually by spraying, it works its way through the plant killing it completely. On contact with soil the herbicide breaks down into harmless substances.

The herbicides used in Swansea have a very low toxicity and can be used in areas open to the public and their pets. In areas close to water courses and reservoirs, herbicides are not used.

We regularly consult with independent experts for advice on weed control and related issues, to ensure that we are fully up-to-date with changes in legislation, herbicide recommendations and commercial practice.

We do not remove weeds following the spray, weeds are left to rot away.

Read more about our use of herbicides containing glyphosate

When are weeds treated?

Most residential roads are treated once a year in the spring, with a second and third application later in the year.

How long does it take for weed-killer to take effect?

As gardeners who use herbicides will know, it is not usually immediately apparent that weed-killing treatment of plants has taken place. It will normally take up to two weeks to have a visible impact, though this can be affected by weather conditions.

How does the weather get in the way of treating weed problems?

We do all we can to treat weeds at appropriate times. However, we cannot treat them if:

  • the weather is very hot because the weed-killer can evaporate before it has been absorbed by the weeds
  • there is a risk of rain because the weed-killer would be washed off before it was absorbed by the weeds
  • there are high winds. This is to make sure the herbicide doesn't drift in the air to adjoining land or cause damage.

Weeds and legislation

There are five weeds listed in the Weeds Act 1959 (opens new window), Spear Thistle, Creeping or Field Thistle, Curled Dock, Broad Leaved Dock and Common Ragwort. The council will remove ragwort on highway verges where there is, in our view, a high risk of ragwort spreading to land used for the grazing of horses, other grazing animals, or for the production of animal feed.

Under section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (opens new window), it can be an offence to plant or grow certain specified plants in the wild, including Giant Hogweed and Japanese Knotweed. There is no statutory requirement for landowners to remove these plants from their property but it is an offence to allow them to spread to adjacent land.

How to report weed problems on the highway

Use the highways report it form for weeds or call us on 01792 843330.

Weedspraying schedule

Find the treatment dates for your area.

Herbicides containing glyphosate

Read more about our use of herbicides containing glyphosate.
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