The mention of Japanese knoweed has the effect of putting fear of God on owners, but the bamboo plant, which is less well known, can be even more devastating.

Homeowners have been planting bamboo in Britain for years to create an exotic oriental ornamental element or a rapidly growing privacy screen around their home. The problem with them is that some species grow very fast and grow both underground and above – a gardening expert says they can grow up to three feet a day. Furthermore, the plant can spread underground as quickly as it grows above and does not respect fences, walls and property boundaries.

Unfortunately, the plant has become something of a garden center staple, often bought and planted by homeowners to provide a privacy screen between them and their neighbors, without suspecting that this has more sinister consequences.

Sold as a garden element

Bamboo is not a native plant species in Great Britain. It was first introduced to the UK in the 1970s as a beautiful fast growing ornamental plant, a plant from the grass family, so it is a fast growing ability and people innocently purchase it to plant in their gardens and yards.

From the owner’s point of view, the plant can be a nightmare. Bamboo grows especially vigorous when found near well-watered lawns and gardens or in areas where water accumulates. So although the plant quickly forms a nice ‘wall’ barrier that blocks the view from nosy neighbors, the consequences of planting can be long-lasting and very costly if the walls and fences are mined and spread to nearby properties.

One source describes bamboo as a plant like no other: a very robust “grass”. Some species grow faster than any plant on earth, bamboo is unmatched in its versatility and ability to renew. Once its tenacious rhizome roots have taken hold, the plant is nearly indestructible. You may be faced with a serious challenge to remove it when it becomes a problem – you will have a serious battle with mother nature on your hands.

Bamboo spreads by putting out rhizomes, long underground stems that can extend underground for thirty meters or more and is strong: it has the power and strength to break through masonry walls and even lift concrete. It is almost impossible to stop once it starts.

The only safe way to plant bamboo is to install a foolproof HDPE (high-density polyethylene) under-surface barrier installed throughout the planting area.

Removing the bamboo

Despite what you have read, the plant can be removed, but it is far from an easy task because the only way to do it successfully – complete eradication – is to remove the entire root system. Removing the bamboo poles, known as stalks or reeds, is the easy part. You can easily saw off the hollow poles with a hand saw and you can easily remove any plant that appears above the ground.

But the reeds are like the tip of an iceberg on a bamboo plant – most of the action takes place underground, 360 degrees around the plant. The roots don’t usually go very deep, but they extend laterally and a good sized bamboo will cause them to stretch underground for many many meters. Their stubborn “will to live” makes them practically invincible. Radiating them fully can involve digging all of them from underground with a mechanical excavator, it’s such a big project.

Invasive plant company Environet estimates that around 10% of properties in the UK have bamboo on their properties or grow in a neighbor’s garden.

Nic Seal, of Environet UK, told a Daily telegraph:

“Bamboo is a nightmare to spread and we are seeing more cases where it is holding up or even failing property sales.

“Buyers are right to be concerned, but there is no regulation to protect them, so they have no legal recourse against the seller if the bamboo starts causing problems after they move.

“The awareness around the bamboo is many, many years behind the one around the polygon. But it is potentially worse than the polygon in its ability to cause damage and spread. “

Buyer be careful

Unlike the Japanese Knownweed, as Mr. Seal says, property sellers are not legally obligated to disclose the presence of bamboo on their property or those adjacent properties, so if you are buying – caveat emptor – buyer beware, you need to make a proper detailed investigation analysis.

In a project Mr. Seal was involved in, he said: “There were hundreds of feet of bamboo excavated under the property – it took a few days to get rid of the plant, but rebuilding the house meant the owners had to relocate. for eight months. “

The plant is known to invade entire homes, hundreds of feet of bamboo roots that emerge within the walls of a property and exit the floors in all stairwells. Eradication involves the elimination of all floors suspended on the ground with immense costs and interruptions.

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