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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Trees--Wounds and injuries, Neighbor law

How can I find out if my Monkey Puzzle tree was poisoned by my neighbors? I found 6 holes drilled into it on their side.


Before assuming the tree has been poisoned, make sure that the holes were not actually caused by woodpeckers or flickers, since this is common behavior among such birds--and less common behavior among neighbors, one would hope!

In order to determine for sure whether your trees have been poisoned, you may wish to consider contacting a certified arborist. For a fee, an arborist will visit your property and make a diagnosis or recommend another plan of action.

For a list of arborists, contact Plant Amnesty, an organization of arborists and vetted gardeners at 206-783-9813 or visit the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.

To pursue a legal solution to the problem contact the King County Law Library where County law librarians will be happy to help you with your research.

The book Neighbor Law by Emily Doskow and Lina Guillen (Nolo Press, 2014) is also a useful resource.

Date 2018-07-13
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Neighbor law, Hedges, Garden structures and building materials, Bamboo

Are there any restrictions to planting bamboo near a property line? We are planting it at least 1 1/2 feet from the property line and will be using the appropriate barrier (if planting the runner variety) or clumping bamboo. Basically we want to regain some privacy for our yard and house but not encroach upon the neighboring property.


Although I cannot speak to whether there are legal restrictions about planting bamboo (this would be a question for King County Law Library), my hunch is that as long as you take the necessary precautions to control the spread of the plant by installing a root or rhizome barrier, it should not pose a problem. If you intentionally planted an uncontrolled invasive plant at the property line, it might be possible for someone to contend that it was malicious, as mentioned below (Revised Code of Washington):

RCW 7.40.030

Malicious erection of structure may be enjoined.

An injunction may be granted to restrain the malicious erection, by any owner or lessee of land, of any structure intended to spite, injure or annoy an adjoining proprietor. And where any owner or lessee of land has maliciously erected such a structure with such intent, a mandatory injunction will lie to compel its abatement and removal.

The American Bamboo Society has helpful information on how to control bamboo. Here is an excerpt describing barriers:

To prevent a running bamboo from spreading, a rhizome barrier is essential. A barrier two or three feet deep is effective. It should be slanted outward at the top so that when the rhizomes hit the barrier they will bend upwards. A barrier does not stop a running rhizome; it only deflects it. The barrier should project an inch or two above ground level. Check the barrier once a year, and cut off rhizomes that arch over the top.

Barriers can be concrete, or metal, or plastic. The usual recommendation is high-density polypropylene, 40 mil or heavier, glued or taped at junctions, or clamped with stainless-steel clamps. This material comes in rolls, or as hinged sections, and is available from some landscape suppliers and bamboo nurseries, frequently termed root barrier. More elaborate barriers with corner posts that hold the material at the proper angle are also available.

One other option is to plant your bamboo in pots. Even then, you would need to check the bottoms of the pots periodically for escaping roots. You can also purchase lengths of bamboo fencing or willow fencing, if you do not wish to install a heavier fence. Here is an example of willow fencing, and here is a local company, Bamboo Builders Northwest, which has examples of bamboo fencing.

Date 2018-06-22
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May 31 2018 13:14:08