You reap what you sow: The Problems with Bamboo

Can bamboo really cause structural damage? Chartered Surveyor Stephen Cornish explains


The risk of structural damage to buildings posed by certain trees and plants growing nearby has been well publicized since the droughts of the 1970s.  Now there is increasing evidence that Bamboo is another menace; just like the seemingly ubiquitous Japanese Knotweed, it is not indigenous but often an innocent introduction into our gardens.

Bamboo is a member of the grass family and is an extremely fast-growing plant. The plants may be broadly categorized as either running or clumping.  Running bamboo rhizomes or stems spread away from the original plant, and clumping bamboo stems form in circles that grow larger in diameter as more stems develop. Both types can cause structural damage to buildings.

The Running bamboo may manoeuvre its way into any opening in a building; the above photograph shows the stems emerging from beneath a basin in a ground floor bathroom having entered the building from neighbouring land. If the foundations to a building are weak or cracked, the bamboo can aggravate these problems. The size of the cracks through which the bamboo grows will increase as the stems grow thicker and more plentiful. Clumping bamboo might not spread outward as aggressively, but it too will grow without stopping. That growth can put pressure on foundations if the bamboo is planted right next to a building.

Government advice on controlling non-native invasive plant species is available here.

Avoid structural damage to your property and neighbouring buildings by refraining from planting bamboo in close proximity. If you already have existing concerns about the growth of bamboo on your land or neighbouring plots, then contact Woodward Chartered Surveyors for a professional opinion.

Latest from our blog