You Know It’s Ugly When They Call In The Lawyers

There’s a saying that everybody talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.  A similar thing could be said about invasive plants–which are slightly harder to control (actually, the weather and invasive plants probably come in at about a draw when it comes to control measures).

The Spoiler deserves the credit for bringing this case to my attention–which technically is NOT about a plant on Connecticut’s invasive plant list.  Once I read the facts it seemed worthy of writing about.

The case, which is summarized in the above linked Connecticut Law Tribune editorial, has to do with yellow or golden bamboo (phyllostachus aurea), a running form of bamboo.  It seems that a misguided person in the Shelton area thought it would make a nice boundary plant so he planted 6 tiny clumps in 1997.  Fifteen years later it has run rampant over 4 properties and it shows no signs of stopping. It has broken up driveways. It is heading for a septic field.  It is apparently incapable of being stopped–the owner installed a barrier that it completely ignored.

Another homeowner in the New Haven area who has battled this plant has gotten estimates of “$18,000 to $22,000” from landscapers–that’s what it would cost for her to remove the encroaching bamboo from her property!

There are two problems with this plant (well, two that I will identify here).  Actually, the only problem with the plant is that it is such a successful grower in our climate–one plant can grow almost 10′ in a season–and that’s the rhizome!

The other problem is that it is being purchased and sold by those who are unaware of its capacity.  When I worked in retail gardening we had a stand of golden bamboo on the garden center property.  It was lovely–but the owner had sunk the appropriate barriers to ensure that its roots did not escape onto the neighboring properties.

When customers asked about it, I took great pains to describe the 6′ concrete barriers that were necessary to restrain the bamboo.  Needless to say, I don’t think I ever sold any of the plant. But far better to have that result than to let the plant go out into unsuspecting hands–and onto unsuspecting neighbors’ lands!

When the Spoiler showed me this editorial (where the homeowner lost her claims against  her neighbor and the marauding bamboo) I had to wonder why the homeowner lost and why the case hadn’t been brought under the more traditional causes of action such as trespass.

A little more research turned up the information that the homeowner was self-represented.  That seems a hard price to pay for not having chosen a lawyer, particularly when the homeowner may have been well acquainted with real estate.  Some Facebook pages claim she was a real estate appraiser.    Perhaps I impute too much knowledge to her as a result of that field.

She perhaps thought she knew enough to be self-represented. Or perhaps it was a question of finding a lawyer to take her case–or to take it seriously.  And of course there is always the cost involved–she may have thought she’d she’d already spent far too much on  the bamboo to begin with! But in any case, it seems obvious that when bringing a novel cause of action, particularly for this amount of damage, she probably should have had a lawyer.

4 thoughts on “You Know It’s Ugly When They Call In The Lawyers

  1. Bridget June 26, 2012 / 5:51 pm

    That’s scary! Thankfully I don’t have Bamboo in my garden. I’ll make do with looking at it in other’s gardens. Actually I don’t like Bamboo that much anyway!

    • gardendaze June 27, 2012 / 8:33 am

      Before I “married my house” as I often put it, someone planted what was an allegedly clumping bamboo in our yard. And it was well-behaved for 6-7 years. The we must have had a very wet summer or something but it started running so I said, “No way–this has got to go.” Five years later I think I was still pulling and mowing runners! The stuff can be very serious, even if it’s supposed to be a clumper. I can’t imagine why it’s sold anywhere! Thanks for reading and commenting!


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