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Everything you should know about bamboo spread

Everything you should know about bamboo spread

Close up on Bamboo damage

Bamboo can be an attractive addition to gardens, but its invasive nature often leads to significant issues. If not properly managed, bamboo can spread aggressively, causing damage, and creating long-term problems. If you want to learn more about what bamboo spread is and how to prevent it, read on! 

What is bamboo spread?  

Bamboo spreads primarily through its root system, specifically through underground stems known as rhizomes. Bamboo primarily reproduces vegetatively through its rhizomes rather than through seeds. This vegetative reproduction allows for rapid colonisation and spread. The method of spread can vary significantly between the two main types of bamboo: running bamboo and clumping bamboo. Here’s how each type spreads:

Clumping Bamboo (Sympodial): 

  • This type of bamboo grows in tight, circular clusters or clumps. 
  • The rhizomes (underground stems) of clumping bamboo grow short distances before producing new shoots, resulting in a dense, compact growth pattern. 
  • Clumping bamboo spreads slowly and is ‘easier’ to control, making it a popular choice for gardeners. 

Running Bamboo (Monopodial): 

  • Running bamboo has long, horizontal rhizomes that can spread far from the parent plant. 
  • New bamboo shoots emerge from nodes along the rhizomes, often popping up at a considerable distance from the original plant. Runners grow out in all directions, leading to rapid and widespread growth. 
  • Running bamboo can quickly become invasive if not properly managed, it will likely overtake gardens and natural areas. 

Why is bamboo spreading a problem? 

Bamboo spreading, particularly when it comes to running bamboo, can be problematic for several reasons: 

1. It causes damage to infrastructure: 

Bamboo rhizomes can grow under pathways, driveways, and even into building foundations, causing structural damage. Bamboo spread can also easily overrun lawns, flowerbeds, and push-up patios and block paving. ,

2. It will likely encroach on your neighbour’s property: 

One main problem with bamboo is its tendency to spread into neighbouring properties. While not illegal to grow, when bamboo crosses property lines, it can lead to damage and legal disputes. It’s worth noting that legal cases related to bamboo are rising and are expected to increase as awareness grows. 

3. It harms native ecosystems: 

Outside of gardens, bamboo can outcompete native plants for resources such as light, water, and nutrients, reducing biodiversity. 

How to prevent bamboo from spreading? 

There are a few tips which you can follow to prevent bamboo from spreading and avoid any unnecessary stress:  

If you really want bamboo in your garden, it’s important to do your research before buying and choose a clumping variety. However, be warned – some clumping bamboo can change habit into running bamboo over time. We often see varieties that are mislabelled in garden centres as clumping – so the next bit of advice is – always contain it correctly to start with! Pop it in robust containers or pots and keep an eye on it regularly. You can also use root barriers to ensure your bamboo stays where it should be, but they need to be well maintained, encompass the plants 360 degrees, and stand at least 10cm proud of the surface. Finally, root-pruning every year is also important to avoid any unwelcome surprises. 

The best idea is to opt for alternatives, there are plenty of non-invasive architectural grasses and shrubs out there to choose from.

Using professional bamboo removal services remains the best way to stop it from spreading

At Environet, we specialise in tackling challenging invasive weeds, including bamboo. With decades of experience, our team offers comprehensive removal services tailored to your property’s needs.  

Our services include: 

  • Excavation and removal: We thoroughly remove the bamboo rhizome system. 
  • Containment solutions: For those who wish to retain some bamboo for privacy or aesthetic reasons, we provide containment solutions using vertical root barrier membranes. 
  • Herbicide treatment: While not our primary recommendation, herbicide treatment is available for small bamboo sections that cannot be removed mechanically. 

For more detailed information and professional assistance, visit Environet’s bamboo removal page

Robert Spaceman

“We had a large stand of bamboo removed, thinned, contained and replaced. The customer service has been first class. Joe and Jason were fabulous and kept me well informed at all times”.