Weeds and moss

We treat approximately 300 miles of public roads and footpaths annually. We do not treat weeds on unadopted roads or footpaths from private property.

Weed treatment

We undertake an annual weed treatment programme throughout the Borough. Last year we made further significant investment into this area of work by using our Mechanical Street Sweepers fitted with chemical applicators. This compliments our previous manual methods we have used to treat and hoe larger rooted weeds from all adopted highway and footpaths.

Chemical weed control is widely accepted to be the best method of weed control. The main reasons being that manual removal is very labour intensive, only provides a very short term result and can cause damage to the road surface.

Changes in legislation, our responsibility to prevent pollution of watercourses and protect the local environment have restricted the type of product we can use. These products are now less effective at treating weeds than previously.

Mild winters and extended periods of wet weather provided excellent conditions for weed growth within the Borough. Periods of wet weather reduce the number of suitable days available for successful weed treatment application. Every effort is made to ensure visible weeds are treated within our programmed activities.

Residents are encouraged to support weed removal by removing weeds along their boundary walls and footpaths outside their homes.

Invasive weeds

Under the Weed Act 1959 enforcement action may be taken on the occupier of land on which injurious weeds are growing, requiring the occupier to take action to prevent the spread of injurious weeds. The Weed Act specifies five injurious weeds:

  • common ragwort
  • spear thistle
  • creeping of field thistle
  • broad leaved dock
  • curled dock

The Weed Act was amended by the Ragwort Control Act of 2004. Both Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed are dealt with under the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.The Borough of Poole seeks to comply with the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs Code of Practice on how to prevent the spread of Ragwort. It also has an ongoing programme of Japanese Knotweed control on its land.

If you believe you have invasive or non-native weeds on your own land, you can also find advice from the Environment Agency.


Moss traditionally grows in winter (this is when growth is most significant) although build-up can occur during any wet period or in shady, damp or wet areas. Herbicide treatments for moss have become less effective, more expensive and require repeat treatments. For this reason the council does not have the resources to treat moss in this way.

What you can do

If you have a hedge outside your property, make sure it does not obstruct or overhang any footpaths. Vegetation overhanging the highway is a hazard to people walking by and an obstruction to our staff trying to clean pavements. High hedges can also be a nuisance.

If you have a gravel driveway, make sure it does not encroach onto the public highway. Loose gravel is a hazard to people using the footpath and an additional pressure on the cleansing service.

Page last updated: 30 January 2019
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