NJ towns aren’t banning bamboo, but cracking down on overgrowth
It may give your backyard a more tropical feel, but its invasiveness may cause an unwanted jungle for your neighbors: Bamboo planting has been on the rise in New Jersey, and numerous municipalities now have ordinances on the books to curb its growth.
In most cases, these local laws aren't outright bans. It's about maintenance, according to Mike Cerra, executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.
"I don't know if our climate is particularly suited for it. I would assume that it's the novelty of it," he said. "You plant a garden, if you're growing tomatoes, you're out there pruning them through the season. If you're growing roses, you're pruning the roses. This is no different."
The latest municipality to adopt such a measure is Mahwah, which plans to impose daily fines of up to $1,000 for any new planting of "running bamboo," or spread of existing bamboo to within 10 feet of any road or neighboring property.
Mahwah Township Council President David May said he agrees with Cerra's estimation that the bamboo issue, while not widespread, is not unique to his town.
The Mahwah ordinance was modeled off of Lake Como's, and other Garden State municipalities currently known to have or be considering bamboo restrictions include Brick Township, Emerson, Lacey Township, Palisades Park, Raritan Borough and Toms River.
"Maybe 20, a quarter percent of the towns in the state might have it addressed in their ordinance in some way, whether it's a particular ordinance on bamboo," Cerra said.
May said that some complaints from neighbors reported that the exotic grass was cutting into foundations. Cerra said he has heard anecdotally about bamboo breaching pool linings.
"It comes down to when it's unkempt and not maintained, it's really the invasive nature of bamboo," Cerra said.
If you keep your lawn maintained, Cerra said, you should have no problems with your neighbors or your local government when it comes to bamboo. Still, it may be helpful to call your town hall before you plant anything.