Bamboo plants are members of the true grass family. They are evergreen perennials. Bamboo is extremely hardy and spreads quickly, in part because the plant relies on underground rhizomes to establish and nourish root systems. Gardeners and hobbyists frequently introduce ornamental bamboo species into their yards, which either rely on sympodial (clumping) or monopodial (running) growing rhizomes. Learning how to eliminate bamboo plants starts by accurately determining the kind of bamboo growth patterns you are dealing with.
Monopodial (Running) Bamboo
Saw off the visible bamboo stalks. Cut the plants down all the way to the ground.
Dig down about 10 inches with your spade. Separate as many rhizomes and roots as you can and remove them; this is especially important if the offending bamboo is encroaching into your yard from an area that is beyond your control, such as a neighbor's landscape. Only a complete separation from the well nourished and tended rhizomes on the other side of the fence provides you a shot at destroying the running bamboo that is springing up in your yard.
Water the area you dug up and fertilize it well. The goal is to encourage new bamboo growth from the remaining rhizomes. Fertilizer derived from dung or fresh manure provides the best results.
Cut off new shoots and dig down into the soil again. Removing green shoots and leaves prevents photosynthesis and results in weakening rhizomes. Eventually, the combination of watering, fertilizing and preventing the synthesis of nutrients deteriorates the rhizomes to the point of rotting.
Sympodial (Clumping) Bamboo
Saw off the bamboo stalks. Make sure that you remove the wood as close to the ground as possible.
Dig up the rhizomes with your spade. Clumping bamboo does not spread as aggressively as the running variety, and the rhizomes are usually contained in one area. Nevertheless, make sure that you remove each visible rhizome from the soil. Do not leave behind those that you cut with the spade.
Water the area with your hose. If you were successful in removing the clumping bamboo, you should not see any more growth. Dig up missed rhizomes, if you do see some shoots coming up.
About this Author
Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.