Monday, 20 January 2020

Bamboo proving popular for UK gardeners - but don't let it spread

EASY to grow, hardy and tolerating most soil types, bamboo has grown in popularity among UK gardeners in recent years, mainly because of its screening qualities that create privacy in overlooked gardens.

However, bamboo can also be invasive and spread out of control if allowed, according to gardening specialists Environet UK.

There are several varieties of “clumping” and “running” bamboo, all of which have large underground root and rhizome systems.

It is the running varieties in particular that cause headaches for homeowners, as they have long lateral rhizomes that reach up to 30 feet away from the main plant, causing the plant to spread, with new shoots unexpectedly appearing in new locations — although even clumping bamboos can become invasive if left unchecked for a number of years.

Due to the extraordinary distance the roots can travel, running bamboo has the potential to be more damaging to property than Japanese knotweed, and has similar abilities to push through brickwork, drains, cavity walls, patios and exploit cracks or weaknesses in concrete.

Environet UK recommends that bamboo is planted in containers with root barriers in place, to ensure it cannot spread.

The firm’s managing director Nic Seal said: “Bamboo is a vigorous and fast-growing plant that has been steadily growing in popularity in the UK over the last decade or so, but it is very difficult to contain and virtually impossible to kill with herbicide. It is commonly sold at nurseries and garden centres across the country with little or no warnings about its invasive nature or sensible advice about how to contain it.

“If you do decide to plant bamboo, make sure you choose a clumping variety such as Bambusa or Chusquea and avoid the running types which send long roots out spreading many metres from the original plant. It’s also a good idea to place it in a pot or bed which is lined with a strong vertical root barrier designed to contain bamboo.”

“Attempts to kill the plant using herbicide are likely to fail, leaving only two practical approaches for those wanting their gardens bamboo-free. It is possible to treat it yourself using the energy depletion method, which involves cutting the canes to ground level before new leaf appears and repeating the process annually in order to deplete the energy reserves in the root system, which can take several years. Alternatively, it can be professionally excavated in a matter of days.”