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As bamboo grows, so do neighborly feuds


DECEMBER 28, 2015, 11:12 PM    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2015, 11:16 PM

Good fences make good neighbors — unless there is bamboo involved. In that case, neighbors might curse, sue or move altogether, leaving behind hard feelings and a yard overtaken by the rapidly spreading plant.

Bamboo — sometimes used instead of a fence to mark property lines or lend privacy to a home — has quietly emerged as a divisive issue in suburban North Jersey, where homeowners have joined local and state officials in debating how to regulate the plant. In the process, they have had to grapple with questions about enforcement, property rights and even the role of government itself.

The growing consensus: There is no easy fix.

More than a dozen municipalities across the state — including Wayne, Emerson, Hillsdale, Palisades Park and Rockleigh — have some sort of bamboo regulation in place.

Others, like Washington Township, have considered adopting an ordinance to regulate bamboo, only to abandon the effort after concluding that it would be difficult to enforce, or that it was not the place of government to interfere with the rights of property owners or to mediate in disputes among neighbors.

“Bamboo is a problem between two neighbors,” said Mayor Max Arnowitz of Hillsdale, who is critical of the bamboo ordinance the Borough Council adopted earlier this year. “We usually say, ‘If you have a problem with your neighbor, you have to go to court.’ ”

Bamboo of the genus Phyllostachys — there are upward of 75 different kinds — is commonly called “running bamboo” because, if left unchecked, it can leap from yard to yard through a system of underground stems. Those stems are known to spread several feet in a matter of days, in defiance of property lines, and support canes — or culms, as they are properly known — that can grow as tall as 50 feet.

10 thoughts on “As bamboo grows, so do neighborly feuds

  1. Nothing more than an invasive weed that does not belong in this area.

  2. foundation killers

  3. Why was Al Pucciafelli referred to as Mr. Bamboo?

  4. They are not stems, they are rhizomes. The key to successful bamboo control is learning how to prune the rhizomes. Removing shoots and canes above ground level merely hides the evidence; it does not prevent spreading. Although plastic Rhizome Barrier is now used extensively and sold by many vendors, root pruning is the best option.

  5. Oh yes, sir Albert went to war with his neighbor over bamboo, as nasty as you all know that he can be. One of sir Alberts many nasty interactions

  6. Because 2:03 this story could be about him.

  7. 4:31 Whose job is it to put the barriers up? If someone plants that stuff they should be responsible to keep it in their yard.

  8. Rutgers Gardens has a wonderful Bamboo garden. Real dark along its pathways surrounded by giant beautiful bamboo trees. Kids and well, some grown ups , love it. So I guess it is an official plant.

    One day near Halloween we were walking with kids and one parent, a well-known poet, suddenly exclaimed bam Boo, , get it idiots, Boo for Halloween. as a scary word appropriate for Halloween.

    The kids never forgot that. So bam–Boo to you.

  9. Thanks for the story Uncle Remus.

  10. Where can I buy some bamboo

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