There are two basic types of bamboo based on how they grow. First are the “Clumpers.” Clumpers send up new shoots very close to their base and take years to extend even as far as eight feet away from where the plant started. Second are the “Runners.” Runners send out—-you guessed it—–runners that can quickly expand the size of the planting once it is established. Personally I think it is a good idea to “contain” any type of bamboo unless you want to piss off the neighbors or lose your entire yard to its growth—-either slowly or quickly.
Once the runner-type “escapes” it can be very difficult to control. It is not unusual to find it filling up crawl spaces—-making inspection impossible.
Sometimes it will even break through asphalt driveways when it is not properly contained.
As a home inspector, I like to note the presence of bamboo on the property–especially if lack of containment is obvious and it is coming up in the neighbor’s yard on the other side of the fence. It is also noteworthy if it is the neighbor’s bamboo coming up on my client’s side of the fence.
Usually, 36” high, heavy plastic sheeting buried three feet in the ground works well as containment. Some people take a three foot tall garbage can and cut the bottom off and then bury that. All types of bamboo take maintenance as the roots will grow over the top of the barrier and back down into the ground around the barrier.
So unless you have a Panda to keep all the bamboo at bay—be careful what you do with bamboo, and make sure you get a time that is not a “runner.”
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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