Dover City Council has approved an ordinance outlawing the planting or growth of bamboo on city properties unless certain precautions are taken to prevent its spread.


Dover City Council has approved an ordinance outlawing the planting or growth of bamboo on city properties unless certain precautions are taken to prevent its spread.

City Council voted 7-0 to approve the ordinance sponsored by Councilman Sean Lynn and city staff.

Dover Department of Planning Director Ann Marie Townshend recommended the law based on a number of complaints made by city residents about the highly invasive, Asian plant.

Under the new law, it is unlawful to plant or grow bamboo on any city parcel unless the root of the bamboo is entirely contained within an above-ground-level planter, barrel or other vessel, Townshend said. Or barriers must be placed in the soil at least 30 inches deep to prevent it from spreading underground, she said.

Otherwise, the bamboo can chew up alleys and sidewalks – raising up the pavement off the ground, Townshend said.

The city is in essence exercising preventative maintenance, she said. The plant is highly invasive and resistant even to herbicide, Townshend said. The only way to eradicate the plant is to cut it down and then treat whatever is left in the ground  with herbicide.

Some species of bamboos, called running bamboos, spread incredibly quickly via underground rootstock – thick, horizontal stems that produce roots and shoots that develop into new plants, according to the University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. The plant can be difficult and costly to control.

“People are planting it and the problem is that, if it’s not maintained, it’s incredibly invasive,” Townshend said. “And once it has started to invade other properties it’s very difficult to control. Once it starts to spread, the only way to contain it is to eradicate it.”

The ordinance provides an exemption for any landowners who already have bamboo growing on their properties unless city code enforcement officials determine the bamboo has spread to neighboring public or private property. The city would then give the property owners 30 days to remove the bamboo.

The city would then take the steps necessary to eradicate the bamboo if the invasive plant were not removed within the allotted time given to property owners. Then, the property owners would be billed for that service.