Bamboo, a familiar sight in gardens across the UK, continues to be a popular choice in garden centres and nurseries. Although readily available to buy with no restrictions, there’s mounting evidence of its invasive nature, prompting the question: is bamboo the new Japanese knotweed?
How bamboo spreads:
With over 1,000 types, ‘running’ varieties of bamboo pose significant challenges for homeowners. Rapid lateral growth of rhizomes, can extend several meters from the parent plant, emerging in unexpected locations sometimes in neighbouring properties. Despite being much slower to spread than its running counterparts, clumping bamboo can also become invasive if planted directly into the ground with no measures to contain them.
Damage to property:
Bamboo’s robust rhizomes can infiltrate building foundations, exploit joints, and penetrate drains, patios, and pathways. One case in Hampshire in 2021 particularly stands out, where bamboo worked its way beneath a house, necessitating a £100,000 insurance claim to remove it and repair the damage caused.
While extreme, this example showcases bamboo’s incredible ability to exploit structural weaknesses and cause significant damage.
Public awareness remains low:
A YouGov survey commissioned by Environet in 2023, revealed that 18% of British adults have encountered bamboo on their property or a neighbour’s. However, only 24% expressed concern about its proximity, highlighting a general lack of awareness about the potential risks. In contrast, 85% would act if Japanese knotweed posed a threat.
Unlike knotweed, bamboo roots are shallower, making removal easier. However, due to their extensive reach and impact on soil, professional help is often required. Excavation and removal of all root and rhizome material is crucial, with follow-up visits needed for any regrowth. Herbicide alone is not usually an effective solution for bamboo.
The lenders’ view:
While Japanese knotweed has faced lending restrictions since 2009, bamboo has largely escaped such scrutiny. However, recent cases indicate a shift, with Chartered Surveyors increasingly flagging infestations to be professionally assessed before loans are agreed. Establishing a surveying framework and lending restrictions, resembling those for knotweed, could protect homebuyers from inheriting costly problems.
Bamboo’s invasive nature and potential for property damage cannot be ignored. As awareness grows, it is crucial for homeowners to take appropriate action and for the property industry to adopt effective measures.resembling those in place for Japanese knotweed. Providing customers with a 5-year guarantee for removal work is a step toward safeguarding innocent homebuyers from the hidden threat lurking in their gardens.
Not sure how to tackle your bamboo infestation? Contact our team today!