invasion of bamboo in Britain, being dubbed Japanese Knotweed 2.0

If you see a bamboo invasion in your garden you must act FAST! Experts’ top tips on tackling home-wrecking weed dubbed ‘Japanese Knotweed 2.0’

  • Homeowners don’t often don’t realise mature bamboo can be highly invasive 
  • MailOnline spoken to gardening expert on what to do and how to get rid of it 

While having bamboo in your garden might give it an exotic feel, homeowners should be aware of the runaway weed’s invasive nature that can crunch through concrete.

Dubbed Japanese Knotweed 2.0, homeowners often don’t realise that mature bamboo has a large underground root and rhizome system, also known as creeping rootstalk, which can be highly destructive.

This ‘running’ bamboo, as the name suggests, sends out long lateral rhizomes, which cause the plant to spread, and in turn can threaten the foundations in a property.

MailOnline have spoken to two experts who have on how you can get rid of it, and what to do if its starts spreading from your neighbor’s house.

Bamboo is easy to grow – it is hardy and tolerates most soil types,but  it can spread out of control if not maintained.

Bamboo’s relentless growth can exert pressure on buildings and paving (as pictured above), causing cracks in walls or damaging pipes and drainage systems

Running bamboo species can spread vigorously through underground root systems and can damage foundations, patios, paths, and other structures

MainOnline spoke to a Checkatrade spokesperson, who said they have seen Japanese knotweed soar by a huge 117% in April versus March this year.

The spokesman added that, similar to Japanese knotweed, it is important that homeowners deal with a bamboo ‘infestation professionally and thoroughly,’ or it ‘could seriously impact your home’s value.’

Why are we having an invasion of bamboo in Britain? What is causing it?

Both main groups of bamboo grow vast root and rhizome systems (rhizomes are stems that run underground and develop new roots). However, with running varieties, these shoot out laterally and very quickly.

Why is it being dubbed Japanese Knotweed 2.0?

Like Japanese Knotweed, Bamboo roots spread widely, and often a long way from the visible section of the plant above ground. The other similarity is that Invasive bamboo is a nightmare for homeowners due to its prolific nature and difficulty to kill.

Bamboo can cause similar issues with property to Japanese Knotweed, with running varieties able to suddenly pop up metres from the original plant, ending up in every nook and cranny of your garden. 

Worse still, the plant can end up in your neighbour’s garden, which can prove incredibly costly. A dispute over bamboo could even ruin a hous sale.

How do we get rid of bamboo in our garden? How do we stop it spreading?

A landscape gardening project turned into a nightmare for neighbours in Knutsford as an invasive bamboo ran wild and took over several gardens. The bamboo, which was planted along a boundary in one garden in the Cheshire town, ended up costing £10,000 to uproot

Bamboo is a hardy plant, which means its rhizomes and roots are virtually impossible to remove using common herbicides. Instead of using harmful chemicals that often cause more damage than they fix (even when minimal and targeted). Prevention is better than cure.

Put on your garden gloves and get to work digging up the overgrown clump or clumps. Remove as many roots as possible to make regrowth as hard as possible. But don’t be fooled. Bamboo can and will return regardless.

Once you’ve removed as much of the offending overgrowth as possible, the next step is to diligently kill any bamboo shoots as they dare to re-emerge. 

You can do this in several ways: Frequently mow it down using the lowest setting (as often as you mow your grass). Dig out the shoots as they emerge from the soil Immediately spray any shoots you see with a strong herbicide or weedkiller.

For an eco-friendly alternative, pour boiling water on the shoots

What is the best way to get rid of it using homemade remedies or mixes? And what is the best shop bought product for it?

Bamboo is becoming a major problem for British homeowners who may not realise that most species are invasive if left unchecked, with the ‘running’ varieties extending for up to 30ft beneath the ground, warns Environet UK

A cheaper and more eco-friendly DIY method is to pour boiling water over roots when they are uncovered. 

Alternatively, Glyphosate herbicide can be used, which typically costs around £30.

How long does it take to die after treating it?

This will depend on how wide the roots have spread, however a professional will be able to advise on this after surveying the problem.

What is the best way you can prevent it from coming back or growing in a different place in your garden?

Due to the importance of removing all the roots, hiring a professional with expertise in doing this can save long-running problems.

One visit to remove bamboo by hand is likely to cost between £120 and £280, assuming the job lasts less than a day. Most tradespeople who remove bamboo will give you an estimate for the job and then calculate the end price based on half-day or full-day rates. 

The total cost to remove bamboo will depend on a number of factors including; the extent of the problem, how tall the bamboo is, how many square metres of bamboo you have, what kind of bamboo is present, the method of removal, the ease of access, and whether there are obstructions present such as irrigation systems, pipes, concrete or wiring.

MailOnline also spoke to Benita Middleton a professional qualified gardener with experience dealing with bamboo in client’s gardens and running her own gardening business Benita’s Garden Services.

The expert told us that while bamboo is usually a good, ornamental plant, it is ‘crucial to adopt proactive measures’ to prevent it from going rampant. 

Benita Middleton is a professional qualified gardener with experience dealing with bamboo in client’s gardens

What is the invasion of bamboo in Britain — Japanese Knotweed 2.0? 

Ms Middleton says that the invasion of bamboo in Britain has become a pressing concern, often being referred to as ‘Japanese Knotweed 2.0’ due to its invasive nature and potential for causing property damage. 

In order to combat this issue, ‘it is crucial to adopt proactive measures for prevention and implement effective management strategies once bamboo has taken hold,’ she says.

While bamboo grows natively on five continents – except for Europe and Antarctica – it was originally brought to the UK as a ornamental plant but it soon outgrew its welcome!

Because it is easy to grow and tolerates most soil types, it can get out of control if allowed. And the problem tends to be with the invasive types of bamboo, with the varieties belonging to the genus Phyllostachys and other aggressive, running bamboo genera including Sasa and Pleioblastus.

How to prevent it from taking hold, and how to deal with it when it does?

Preventing bamboo from establishing itself begins with a careful selection of non-invasive bamboo species if you wish to grow it in your garden. 

The gardening expert advises that homeowners ‘opt for clumping bamboo varieties, which are less likely to spread uncontrollably’. 

She said: ‘Additionally, installing root barriers or physical barriers made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), concrete or metal can restrict the underground rhizome growth, thus limiting its invasive potential.’

She continued to say that this is ‘an incredibly rampant grower’ and has been known to break through plastic pots and push up concrete,’ so if you’re looking to plant it in your garden be very careful.

The RHS has also advised homeowners that they can implement cultural control, which involves non-chemical methods such as digging out clumps of bamboo and restricting the size. 

They also said that gardeners can use a weedkiller to remove unwanted growth, or the whole plant. But they have warned that the larger the plant, the more difficult it will be to completely kill – and it may take several applications of weedkiller to properly work. 

READ MORE: Expert calls for BAMBOO to be sold with a warning because it can damage houses and break through bricks, mortar and concrete just like Japanese knotweed 

What can be done about it? 

It is essential to regularly inspect your property, garden and adjacent areas to detect any signs of bamboo growth at an early stage. 

Ms Middleton says: ‘Timely identification enables prompt action, preventing the plant from establishing a strong foothold.

‘Cutting it back completely and digging it up repeatedly over time is the best way to control it.’

On top of this, she said that people should not be buying if ‘if you’re concerned about it’.

Alternatively, she says that you can purchase less invasive variants of the plant like a clumping variety – Fargesia – which is a popular species to grow. 

How serious is it? 

Bamboo invasion is very serious and should not be underestimated, the expert warns. 

Running bamboo species can spread vigorously through their underground rhizomes, invading neighboring properties, gardens, and structures. 

Ms Middleton continued to say: ‘The emergence of bamboo shoots in unexpected areas can cause damage to foundations, drains, patios, and paths.

‘Perhaps worst of all, the dense growth of bamboo can outcompete native plants, adversely impacting biodiversity. 

‘At a time when biodiversity is at threat, we should really avoid opting to grow plants that might make things worse.’  

Environet UK therefore urges people to avoid putting bamboo in their garden at all, but says there are some measures which can be done to mitigate risk.

Choosing a clumping variety such as Bambusa or Chusquea is key, so too is planting the roots in a strong pot and not directly into the ground.

This should also be lined with a strong root barrier which will stop the bamboo roots breaking through its container and running wild. Bamboo should also be aggressively pruned every year to keep it in check.

Can it cause property damage? 

Ms Middleton says that people should not be buying if ‘if you’re concerned about it’. Alternatively, she says that you can purchase less invasive variants of the plant like a clumping variety

Ms Middleton simply said ‘Yes,’ as she went on to explain that ‘the invasion of bamboo can definitely cause property damage. 

‘Running bamboo species have the potential to spread rapidly and invade neighboring properties, gardens, and structures.’

This is because the underground rhizomes of running bamboo can extend far from the main plant, leading to the emergence of bamboo shoots in unexpected areas.

More simply, when bamboo shoots penetrate the ground, they can damage foundations, underground utilities, drainage systems, patios, paths, and other structures. 

And their relentless growth can exert pressure on buildings, causing cracks in walls or damaging pipes and drainage systems. 

The gardening expert added: ‘The rhizomes can also infiltrate through small cracks or gaps in structures, exacerbating the damage over time.’

And even clumping bamboos, although preferable to running varieties, can become invasive if left unchecked for a number of years. 

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