READING remains a hotspot for invasive bamboo.

The plant is a growing problem for homeowners in the town, which features in fourth place in a list of the top five worst affected UK locations based on new data from invasive plant specialist Environet UK.

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Bamboo is favoured for its exotic appearance, rapid growth and general hardiness, particularly in built up areas where it’s useful for creating privacy, yet homeowners may not realise that most species of the plant are highly invasive if left unchecked.

According to Environet’s data, Kingston is the worst affected location in the UK, closely followed by Guildford in second place, South West London, Reading and Redhill.

Reading Chronicle:

When bamboo encroaches into an adjoining property it often causes disputes between neighbours, which can lead to legal action against the owner of the property where the plant originated.

Unlike other invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed, which boast a more fearful reputation, there are currently no restrictions on planting bamboo or selling an infested property despite the fact that it has the potential to cause even greater damage to buildings than knotweed.

This is due to the extraordinary distance the roots can travel, combined with its similar abilities to push through brickwork, drains, cavity walls and exploit cracks and weaknesses in concrete.

Nic Seal, Founder and Managing Direct of Environet UK, said: "Bamboo is very popular among gardeners and homeowners for its screening qualities, creating privacy in overlooked gardens.

"We're seeing large stands which have been allowed to grow unchecked, taking over gardens, lifting patios and damaging homes.

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"Bamboo is a vigorous and fast-growing plant which is very difficult to contain and virtually impossible to kill with herbicide.

"It's important that homeowners are aware of the risks and understand how to contain bamboo by always planting it in a container lined with a specialist root barrier – or avoiding it completely."