This may be stating the obvious but while rapidly renewable bamboo is more than acceptable in flooring, treehouses, bicycles, or salad tongs, it's best to leave the cultivation of this robust Asian grass/panda snack/privacy screen to commercial operations. Despite its exotic nature and the fact that it can magically transform a humdrum backyard into a lush suburban jungle in record time, you do generally not want to grow the stuff on your property nor do you want to live next door to someone who does.

Bamboo, specifically "running" bamboo with its laterally spreading roots, is bad news for homeowners as it can damage homes, crack concrete, overrun gardens, and spread to neighboring properties like wildfire. Manually removing the plant — it's capable of growing up to 40-feet high — can be expensive and time-consuming; eradicating it with herbicides is possible but slow to take effect and, of course, involves the use of unsavory agricultural chemicals that may harm other non-invasive plants.

The Wall Street Journal, the nation's premiere source of inflatable pool swan-related news, recently took a look at the serious measures that several communities in New York and New Jersey have taken to prevent the spread of this invasive plant, measures that include steep fines and even jail time. Connecticut, probably the last place you'd suspect to have an out-of-control bamboo problem, has even created a state law that holds ill-advised running bamboo cultivators liable for removal costs and damage if the plant spreads into neighboring properties. That law takes effect in October.

On Long Island, the mayor of the village of Malverne has passed a law that outright prohibits the planting of bamboo. Those who defy the bamboo ban could face a fine of $350 or spend up to 15 days behind bars. "I didn't know how prevalent bamboo was. I was amazed," Mayor Tony Danza Patricia Norris-McDonald admits to the Journal. "I know it sounds trivial to others, but it's a serious issue to that homeowner." Northeast of Malverne,in Huntington, a new ordinance to take effect in October will require homeowners to remove bamboo from their property. If they don't, they'll be slapped with monthly fines ranging between $250 and $500.

Long Beach, the town of Hempstead, and the village of Babylon have all created bamboo-related laws as well. Brick, N.J., has also started to punish property owners for harboring the plant.

Anyone from New Jersey, New York/Long Island, Connecticut, or beyond struggling with an unchecked running bamboo problem of your own creation (or by a neighbor)? How have you dealt with it? Bolt cutters? Professional excavation? Denial?

And do you think the new bamboo laws popping up are too harsh or totally unnecessary?

Via [WSJ]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Communities crack down on bamboo cultivation
Lush, lovely and totally invasive, running bamboo has been branded as public enemy number one in several towns in the Northeast.