Beware bamboo

Most people know about Japanese Knotweed and how invasive and damaging it is to properties.
However, did you know there is another plant which can be equally problematic, but perhaps less well known for the risks it poses? That plant is bamboo.
A YouGov survey commissioned by invasive plant specialist Environet found almost a fifth of British adults (18%) have had bamboo on their own or an adjacent property.
Despite it spreading faster and further than Japanese knotweed, only 24% of the 2,000 surveyed said they would be concerned if it was growing near their home. Environet suggests this is as a result of a lack of awareness of the risks.
Only 41% of those surveyed said they would ask their neighbour to remove it or take action to stop it spreading if it was encroaching on to their property.
Hardy, fast-growing and tolerant of most soil types, bamboo is popular amongst gardeners and home owners for its screening qualities, creating privacy in overlooked gardens.
It is commonly planted in borders and along boundary fences, but it is able to push through brickwork, drains, patios, cavity walls and even cracks or weaknesses in concrete.
Bamboo’s aggressive spread via long lateral roots can extend up to 30ft from the parent plant and can cause damage to property and therefore the potential for disputes between neighbours.
Nic Seal, founder of Environet, said: “As such cases become more common, I wouldn’t be surprised if mortgage lenders start to look more closely at the issue and impose lending restrictions, similar to those for Japanese knotweed.”

Environet’s advice for what to do if bamboo encroaches into your property:

  • Do not ignore the problem. A few stray runners are normally an indication of a much bigger problem to come. Early action will prevent costs from escalating.
  • Speak to your neighbour and attempt to resolve the issue amicably. They may not have realised the bamboo has spread or understand the risks posed to both properties.
  • Commission a professional to survey the property, to determine the source of the bamboo infestation, the extent of the problem and devise a plan to resolve it. It’s usually best for a bamboo infestation that has spread to multiple properties to be treated as one, but this relies on the cooperation of all the affected neighbours.
  • If the neighbour does not co-operate, notify them in writing and ask them to take action to prevent the ‘nuisance’.
  • If they still fail to tackle the problem satisfactorily, you may choose to seek legal advice and pursue a claim to recover removal costs, the cost of repairing any damage and your legal costs.
  • If a neighbour has bamboo in the garden which is threatening to encroach but has not yet crossed the boundary, alert them to the risks and ask them to remove it or install a root barrier to prevent its spread into your property.