Bamboo should be sold with a warning!

We strongly believe garden centres and plant nurseries should place written warnings on bamboo to highlight its invasive nature and educate customers on the risks of planting it in their gardens. We were delighted to see the Mail Online picking up on this important story in an exclusive article this week, helping us push the message out.

Our customer enquiries relating to bamboo have more than doubled (+140%) over the last twelve months, as the plant continues to spread and homeowners wake up to the extent of the problem.

We can understand why bamboo is so popular – easy to grow, hardy and tolerating pretty much any soil type. It’s particularly favoured in urban areas for its screening qualities, creating privacy in overlooked gardens. But many people are unaware that it can be invasive if left unchecked. The ‘running’ varieties cause particular problems, as the name suggests, sending out long lateral shoots that can spread 30ft or more beneath the ground to emerge in neighbouring gardens and beneath fences, patios, sheds and even homes.

Having lived in Asia for many years, our client Kate Saunders was keen to recreate a tropical garden at her home in Wandsworth, South West London. She had some concerns about planting bamboo, but her gardener reassured her it could be contained by planting it in a lined trench. However, after a number of years, the bamboo escaped, with new shoots appearing in distant parts of the garden and on the other side of the fence in her neighbour’s lawn.

Kate said: “We thought the garden designers had taken precautions to contain the bamboo in a trench but unfortunately it didn’t work. I wanted to create an exotic haven in my garden and it did look lovely, but the bamboo ended up being an expensive mistake. I’d advise anyone considering planting bamboo to think twice and only plant it in pots or containers above-ground – and be prepared to do a lot of maintenance to control it.”

We believe it’s time for garden centres and nurseries to take some responsibility for the escalating problem being faced by gardeners up and down the country who have bought bamboo in good faith with no warning of the risks. In the meantime, here are our tips for preventing bamboo from spreading:

  • Choose a clumping variety such as Bambusa or Chusquea.
  • Always plant bamboo in a container or strong pot - never directly into the ground.
  • Use a strong vertical root barrier to line the container, which is designed to contain bamboo.
  • Prune the plant hard and regularly, at least every spring, to keep it in check.
  • Bamboo can be professionally excavated in a matter of days with root barriers put in place in cases where customers wish to retain some of the plant.

If you’re dealing with out-of-control bamboo, contact us today on 01932 868 700 for expert help and advice.

Share this post