Dec 2023

Bamboo, a seemingly innocent and aesthetically pleasing plant, has become a cause for concern among homeowners in the UK, particularly in Bristol and Somerset. With over 1000 species worldwide, bamboo’s allure as a screening plant is undeniable, but its fast-growing and invasive nature poses a significant challenge for those unaware of its potential consequences. In this article we will investigate removing bamboo roots amongst other methods of controlling this invasive plant species.

Understanding Bamboo Types

Running Bamboo

Running Bamboo, a fast-growing variety, extends its root system beneath the soil surface, reaching up to 30 metres from the original plant. Despite its stealthy growth, the damage it can cause to buildings, pipework, walls, and patios is substantial. While there’s no specific legislation for bamboo, public nuisance laws offer protection to landowners and homeowners from potential encroachment issues.

Clumping Bamboo

On the other hand, Clumping Bamboo is less invasive, with shoots growing closely together. Although it’s not as aggressive as the running variety, it can still overgrow its designated space, causing damage to other plants or invading areas earmarked for different purposes. Effective control methods need to be implemented from the outset to prevent issues.

Understanding Growth Rates

The growth rate of bamboo depends on various factors such as location, air quality, soil composition, water availability, and other ground conditions. The unpredictability of growth in the UK necessitates careful consideration during planting. Seeking professional advice is crucial for understanding local conditions and implementing effective control measures in case the bamboo becomes invasive.

Running Bamboo achieves a height of 8-10 metres, spreading its root system rapidly. Professional intervention is necessary if the plant becomes a nuisance, encroaching on neighbouring properties or breaching installed barriers. On the other hand, Clumping Bamboo grows vertically, reaching up to 5 metres in height. While less invasive, it can still pose a threat if left unattended, emphasising the importance of controlled containment.

The Problems Bamboo Poses for Homeowners

The invasive nature of bamboo has caught the attention of the property market, leading to its classification as a plant that can devalue properties. Homeowners face several challenges, including:

  • Overgrowth and Structural Damage: Bamboo can invade unwanted areas like drainage systems, wall crevices, lawns, flowerbeds, and patios, causing structural damage and devaluing properties.
  • Tough Root Systems: The robust root systems and runners make it difficult to use regular farm tools for lawn or garden maintenance.
  • Neighbour Disputes: Bamboo over spilling into neighbouring properties can lead to disputes and legal conflicts.

Controlling and Removing Invasive Bamboo

Controlling bamboo is a challenging task, as commonly available herbicides often have little to no effect on the plant. Professional contractors, like Southwest Knotweed, are recommended due to their expertise in dealing with invasive species.

Treatment Options

Bamboo Herbicide Treatment

A common approach to managing bamboo is using specialist herbicides to restrict growth and prevent spreading without removing the plant.


  • Cost-effective
  • Treatment can be carried out on-site without spreading the plant further
  • Quick reduction of the plant’s spreading capacity
  • Eliminates the plant’s impact on built structures


  • Takes years to achieve results, especially with mature culms
  • Monitoring required for at least 2 years after growth cessation
  • Not suitable for sites with future development plans involving soil disturbance

Bamboo Screening

For sites with no immediate construction plans, containing bamboo through physical barriers and screens can control growth at a lower cost.


  • Potentially cost-effective
  • Less material disposal needed
  • Treated soil can be re-introduced on-site


  • Small bamboo fragments may remain in the soil, leading to re-infestation
  • Reused soil must be monitored for regrowth

Bamboo Burial

Burying sections of bamboo under layers of soil or other material is a rapid option for restricting the plant to certain areas.


  • Immediate work can continue after burial
  • Quick removal of bamboo from undesirable areas


  • Restrictions remain on the site
  • Requires a large hole, not suitable for shallow soil or high water table areas

Bamboo Excavation

The most reliable approach for permanently eliminating bamboo from a site is excavating the full root system using mechanical diggers and other machinery.


  • Completely removes all bamboo material and roots from site
  • Allows immediate re-development or construction
  • No risk of re-growth from remaining fragments
  • Most effective method for urgent bamboo removal
  • Geo membranes prevent further root spread


  • More expensive than other treatment options
  • Requires heavy machinery and labour
  • Large amount of material to dispose of
  • May not be suitable for all sites
  • Care required around existing structures
  • Ground disturbance can impact other vegetation

For time-sensitive projects, such as construction sites, bamboo excavation involves spraying the affected area before mechanical removal. The use of geo membranes prevents root spread, and biosecurity measures are crucial.

While excavation may be costlier, it proves to be the most proficient and efficient method for bamboo removal, ensuring all runners and roots are eliminated from the site.

In conclusion, tackling invasive bamboo requires a multifaceted approach, considering the type of bamboo, growth rates, and effective control and removal methods. Homeowners in Bristol, Somerset, and the South West must be vigilant, seeking professional advice to mitigate the potential risks associated with bamboo.

The Postcode Areas We Serve

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Birmingham and the Midlands

Bristol and the South West

Cardiff and South Wales

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