Fence panels may provide the definitive screening solution; however, what happens on the other side of the fence when a neighbour has chosen bamboo as a screener?

Plants don’t respect boundaries; fence panels can provide a physical barrier to some above-ground growth but won’t block what’s happening below the surface. If an aggressive, running variety of bamboo has been planted along a boundary it won’t take long for the bamboo rhizomes to start seeking new areas to occupy. Only rhizome removal, or installation of bamboo root barrier, can prevent neighbouring bamboo finding a new home.

Preventing neighbourly tensions along the fence line

It’s not always possible to influence what’s happening over a boundary, and the explosion of Japanese knotweed law cases has demonstrated that plants can be a cause of neighbourly dispute. However, it’s not just the most notorious invasive species that can increase tensions with neighbours, both clumping and running varieties of bamboo are capable of encroaching across boundaries. Whilst, perhaps, not has tenacious as bamboo, tree roots have the power to cause structural damage, or even subsidence. For this reason, there are a large variety of specialist root barriers for trees available, including different varieties for tree planting dependent on the environment.

Root barrier and fencing can be combined to form an effective defence against encroaching or invasive plants. Bamboo perhaps provides the best example, as many landscapers, fencing contractors and gardeners now feel confident to order bamboo root barrier and tackle the job themselves.

There are good specialist products out there, but the best root barrier for bamboo is one that provides good flexibility and high puncture resistance. This is needed because bamboo exploits opportunities and is capable of punching through any gap or compromise to structure.

Having a fence along the boundary not only provides the line for placement of the root barrier trench, but it also contributes the structure to which the barrier can be fixed using a specialist root barrier adhesive. Taking this approach provides additional security and fewer opportunities for the bamboo rhizomes to exploit.

Considerations when using bamboo barrier

Root barrier will only prove effective when product manufacturer guidelines for use are followed, and it is properly installed. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Selection – choose a HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) root barrier with a high puncture resistance – around 4,000 N.
  • Ordering – establish the depth of the bamboo roots and order a width 20% more than the deepest roots. If the root barrier is being used to contain bamboo to a single location, ensure that enough is ordered to completely enclose the rhizomes.
  • Preparation – Select the tools needed, join the sections and secure in place. Specialist joining tape can be used to fold together and secure individual sections.
  • Finishing and maintenance – once in position the root barrier can be trimmed, but it is important to leave an above-ground surplus. Then, if available, the barrier can be secured to a fence or wall with root barrier adhesive.
  • Root barrier often plays a significant role in controlling the spread of invasive plants and dealing with tree related issues. However, when employed for these use cases there is often the need to involve specialists.

Securing the boundary from invasive knotweed

Specialist Japanese knotweed root barrier is commonly used as part of an invasive weed management plan. Whether for on-site burial, or used vertically along the boundary, having the associated plan documentation completed by an invasive weed specialist is important. This is frequently required, along with an insurance backed guarantee, to satisfy mortgage lenders and solicitors working on behalf of buyers.

Aggressive tree roots

There are a diverse range of tree root barriers available for a variety of use cases. In serious matters, such as tree related subsidence, arboriculturists frequently specify a permeable root barrier. This serves to provide the block required to tree roots, whilst also allowing water to pass through.

The installation of tree root barrier can be used to create an infrastructure that protects structures, communication lines and utility services. It can also be employed to benefit the health of new tree plantings, channelling young roots to a safe depth. And, specially constructed ribbed root barrier is frequently specified in urban settings to both channel and prevent root spiralling.

Ben Walton