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Is bamboo the new Japanese knotweed?

about 1 year ago
Is bamboo the new Japanese knotweed?

Problems with Japanese knotweed are well documented, with this invasive species sometimes preventing buyers from getting a mortgage on an affected property. While home movers are busy keeping an eye out for Japanese knotweed, they may be overlooking a different horticultural threat.

Gardener’s favourite falling foul 

Bamboo is becoming an issue in the UK’s back gardens. It actually spreads faster and further than Japanese knotweed but its reputation is intact. Often planted for screening and for its decorative properties, bamboo can often be found at a property’s boundary. Its encroachment habit is becoming the source of legal disputes more frequently, with neighbours falling out over the plant crossing from one garden to another and becoming a nuisance.

Potential to cause property damage

As well as being an annoyance at boundaries, certain types of bamboo planted too close to a property can damage brick foundations. Additionally, bamboo rhizomes – the creeping part of the plant – are constantly growing in search of water. They will find and exploit cracks in patios, weak spots in driveways, force their way between roof shingle and even grow through pipes, such as central heating ducts.

More caution required

Despite the ability to damage a property – and the owner’s relationship with their neighbours – a YouGov survey of more than 2,000 people commissioned by Environet found almost a fifth of British adults had bamboo either in their own garden or at an adjacent property. Worryingly, only 24% of those questioned said they would be concerned if they knew bamboo was growing at their home or nearby.

Although the species’ presence does not have to legally be declared by the seller at the moment, it’s worth noting that mortgage lenders are monitoring the number of legal claims where bamboo has been involved. If the issue becomes more epidemic in nature, it may be added to the watch list alongside Japanese knotweed.

Running or clumping?

There are two main types of bamboo – running and clumping. Running is the type to be most concerned about as it spreads aggressively and is hard to contain. While clumping bamboo is often sold as a more compact and manageable variety, it also bears a large, underground root and rhizome system.

Advice for sellers

The best advice is to avoid planting bamboo completely but if you love the look, don’t plant bamboo directly into the ground. Instead opt for clumping bamboo in pots but you’ll still have to check for roots trying to escape out of any drainage holes. If you already have bamboo in your garden and would like it removed, call a specialist contractor who has the correct knowledge and excavation equipment to successfully treat the affected area.

Advice for buyers

If you are worried that a property you might like to buy has bamboo in the garden, it will be your responsibility to commission a report that identifies its presence, and qualifies if it’s a danger to the property and those that neighbour it. You can also ask your solicitor to enquire specifically about bamboo and other invasive plants as it’s not a question of the TA6 Sellers’ Property Information Form.

If you would like more information about the house buying and selling process, please don’t hesitate to contact us for advice.

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