A man has taken his neighbour to court over a common backyard plant, claiming it ruptured a pool at his home in Sydney's glitzy north shore.
Russell Gill had been living at his home at Cremorne Point for seven years when in late 2022 he noticed issues with the water level of his pool.
While investigating, Mr Gill exposed a ruptured 50-75mm PVC pipe which sent a surge of water flooding into the backyard.
The NSW Land and Environment Court was told this week a plumber determined bamboo roots in the pipes had been the cause of the damage.
“Mr Gill said bamboo stems, which he claimed had encroached from the (neighbour's) property, had grown rapidly,” court documents reveal.
“Landscape gardeners removed all accessible bamboo stems and roots from the applicant’s rear garden.
“This required removal of almost all plants installed in the landscaping works.
“Even with this extent of bamboo removal, Mr Gill was unable to prevent bamboo regrowth.”
Mr Gill’s neighbour, Xuekei Chen, had purchased the neighbouring home in 2022, which featured a dense thicket of 6m bamboo at the rear.
The bamboo, which was being used for privacy and to stabilise the soil, would continue to cause pipe damage if it remained, Mr Gill was told.
Mr Gill told the court Ms Chen claimed to be unaware of the extent of the bamboo, but acknowledged Mr Gill’s issues with the pool water level.
He further claimed his neighbour told him removing the bamboo from the yard would be too difficult, with the matter instead taken to court.
Acting Commissioner John Douglas said Mr Gill had been frustrated by his neighbour’s response and only sought to “future proof” his home.
Ms Chen’s solicitor, Matthew Jaukovic, refuted claims by Mr Gill’s plumber that “60 per cent of in-ground pipes” had burst because of the roots.
Instead, Mr Jaukovic cited the age of the pool, which was installed about 17 years prior, as being the likely culprit of the pipe deterioration.
Mr Douglas ultimately determined, after a hearing in the backyard itself, that the bamboo was responsible for the issues reported by Mr Gill.
He told the court that bamboo rhizomes, underground roots, spread outwards from all edges where environmental conditions allowed them.
“It’s no surprise it is also called ‘running bamboo’ (...) Its use is discouraged,” he said.
“Professional horticulturists and landscape gardeners are normally aware of the invasive potential associated with rhizomatous bamboo.
“Many local councils discourage its use. Unlike clumping bamboo, rhizomatous bamboo is rarely available in nurseries.
“I am satisfied that without intervention, the bamboo is likely to recur in the near future.”
The court was told Mr Gill did not seek compensation for the damage, which he estimated at being between $18,000 – $20,000.
Mr Douglas ordered Ms Chen to cut and poison the bamboo at her expense, and to ensure that any regrowth was dealt with.
But, Mr Gill would also be required under order of the court to replace the bamboo with a single tree to address privacy concerns.