Bamboo Removal & Control Methods
Whilst it’s clear that Japanese Knotweed does have the capacity, to cause problems for property owners, having been involved in the weed-control industry for over 10 years or so we hold the firm view that in general, bamboo can be far more destructive than Japanese Knotweed. Bamboo is not such a feature within the UK landscape and is rarely seen on common land, brownfield sites, roadside embankments and along railway lines or watercourses for example. Unlike Japanese Knotweed, bamboo can be purchased online or at just about any garden centre in the country as it’s considered a member of the grass ‘family’ and not listed under Schedule 9 of The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (in simple terms, bamboo is not ‘banned’).
There are over 100 species of bamboo on the planet with roughly 30 or so commonly found within the UK. Simply put, they can be divided into two separate categories, namely ‘runners’ and ‘clumpers’. ‘Running’ bamboo will gain a solid foothold within the soil/surface following which the rhizome (roots) will spread laterally at an alarming rate, often encroaching deep into neighbouring properties. Clumping rhizome is quite dense and somewhat less invasive than the conventional ‘runner’ although they too will often ‘run’ (to a certain extent) and spread over time and will still thrive in poor soil conditions. It is a very robust plant and will exploit any weakness or opening there is in walls, patio slabs, poorly constructed extensions or conservatories for example. Building directly above bamboo rhizomes can be a recipe for disaster (and very costly at that).
Due to its aesthetic appeal, bamboo is more often than not, planted along or close to residential property boundaries, in order to achieve an element of privacy. Planted correctly with an adequate root barrier installed beforehand, the rhizome can be contained quite easily and will ‘stay as it lays’, without ‘running’ and encroaching into other properties. Nonetheless, its often the case that homeowners are unaware of the impact that planting bamboo without careful forethought (in particularly the running species) will have on a property and potentially over time, the adjacent properties.
The bamboo rhizomes aren’t as brittle as its Japanese Knotweed equivalent and can be a challenge to remove. A simple explanation would be, that once a bamboo rhizome has established itself within the soil or amongst a solid structure, removing it, can upon occasion be akin to attempting to remove a rope from a solid slab of concrete or removing a small tree, which has been growing and has settled within the soil for a few years.
So you may have guessed that we as a business aren’t fans of this plant. In addition, we aren’t overly impressed with what several of our clients have informed us over the years, regarding the advice they were given when they initially purchased bamboo (which eventually, turned into a big issue and had a serious financial impact) from the wholesalers. For that very reason, during January & February 2023, we conducted our very own case study, by attending 6 separate garden centres based in different regions of South Wales and the West Country, under the pretence of being a potential ‘customer’. Of the 6 garden centres we attended and asked for some basic advice and aftercare, the information we were given by some members of staff at 4 companies was poor (and on one occasion totally incorrect) to say the least. Two members of staff we spoke to had no knowledge whatsoever of the meaning of ‘clumpers & runners’. This just reaffirmed our belief that homeowners aren’t being given basic information about the plant.