It’s Invasive Species Week!

Invasive Species Week, running from 13-17 May 2019, brings together organisations across the UK to raise awareness of invasive plant and animal species and help prevent their spread.

Most people know that Japanese knotweed is the most troublesome plant species, described by the Environment Agency as "indisputably the UK's most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”. But many people are completely unaware that other plants such bamboo and buddleia can also be highly invasive, so you might want to think twice about planting them in your garden.

Bamboo is often used for screening purposes, particularly in urban gardens which may be overlooked, or as an eye-catching statement in a contemporary garden. There are several varieties of bamboo, which can be categorised into the “clumping” and “running” types. Both types have large underground root and rhizome systems. As the name suggests, the “running” type send out long lateral rhizomes causing the plant to spread as much as 30 ft, so those are the ones to avoid.

Last week a homeowner in Hampshire contacted us about some bamboo which was growing up through his living room floor, which goes to show just how invasive this popular garden plant can be! It had spread from the neighbouring property, beneath the boundary fence and grown 10 metres laterally under his home to emerge behind the skirting board in his sitting room. Treatment will involve excavating the bamboo completely from both properties or using a root barrier to prevent future encroachment.

If you’re worried about bamboo in your garden and want to try to get rid of it yourself, then you could try the energy depletion method. This involves repeatedly cutting all canes to ground level before new leaf appears, in the hope you deplete the energy reserves in the root/rhizome system. Be prepared this could take several years!

Our experience in dealing with far more aggressive invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed mean that to us, treating bamboo is relatively straightforward. But it shouldn’t be underestimated either and if the plant is at risk of causing damage to your home or encroaching onto your neighbour’s property, it’s time to call in the professionals.

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