Running Bamboo

This week I was reading the online newsletter from a local politician with information on the Metro Innovation Station, Committee meetings and running bamboo, etc.

What running bamboo? My first impression is why are we talking about running bamboo?

Well truth be told, my online research reveals running bamboo is a quick growing, invasive grass with an extensive root system called “rhizomes”.

The issue comes up when people plant running bamboo in their yards and it spreads to common areas or to other properties,

Then, it becomes a hard to solve problem.

Invasive Trumpet Vine

My Experience with an Invasive Plant Species

When I moved into my home, the grounds were filled with many lovely plants including a couple of trumpet vines. The trumpet flowers had large orange blooms and were trained to grow on a split rail fence. Lovely, right? Well for years, they grew and grew. They soon morphed into three lovely vines with loads of orange blooms.

But the story does not end there. So, even with no additional water or care, the vines became huge and pretty much hung over the sidewalk.

Because of their size, the vines needed constant pruning to keep the sidewalk clear for the school students and other people who frequently walked by.

Then years ago, I decide to remove the three large plants. It was not easy to do since the vines were thick, about the size of my wrist. The roots were also extensive.

But that was not the end of things, because I had missed part of the root system, so every year the vines continue to pop up and have to be dug out.

So as the story goes, many years later, my yard is still not free from the vines as I continually dig up any trumpet vines I see. They also spread to areas of the yard where they should not be. But I guess the seeds were carried there by birds or animals. See recent photographs of my yard today.

Important Lesson Learned: No more invasive plant species in my yard.

Invasive Plants
Trumpet Vine on Split Rail Fence

Eradicating Running Bamboo

Apparently with running bamboo you need to create a strong physical barrier or remove it.

Currently, they are recommending a thick plastic 22 to 30 inches deep around the bamboo. Cement barriers, over time, can crack and metal barriers can rust. The plastic barrier’s life span is about 20 to 30 years.

The bamboo’s destructive root system can push into bricks, drains, patios and even into weak or cracked areas in concrete.

Running Bamboo Fine

Recognizing this growing issue, the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County passed a new ordnance starting Jan. 1, 2023, that requires property owners to maintain their bamboo grass to their property or face fines.

If a bamboo grower fails to comply with a Notice of Violation, then this could result in a civil penalty of $50 and up to a maximum of $2,000 in a 12-month period.

So, if in Fairfax County you decide to grow bamboo and it crosses your property line to common property or another home owner’s property, you can soon be fined. Contact the Department of Code Compliance if you need more information or to file a complaint.

Resource Sites: Chairman Jeffery C. McKay online newsletter, Missouri Botanical and

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