How to Eliminate Bamboo Plants

Overview

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

Step 1

Saw off the visible bamboo stalks. Cut the plants down all the way to the ground.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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

Step 1

Saw off the bamboo stalks. Make sure that you remove the wood as close to the ground as possible.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid the radical methods of bamboo elimination that you sometimes see recommended in online forums. These include spreading a mix of coarse salt and concentrated vinegar or undiluted herbicides. Even if they have an adverse impact on the bamboo, which is thus far unproven, they will render the soil hostile to any other plants as well.

Things You'll Need

  • Saw
  • Spade
  • Gardening hose
  • Water
  • Fertilizer

References

  • AmericanBamboo.org: American Bamboo Society discusses management of running bamboo
  • TFProject.org: Tilted Forum Project discusses a number of herbicidal solutions for bamboo

Who Can Help

  • BambooGiant.com: Bamboo Giant suggests the best bamboo fertilizer
  • Bambusero.co.nz: Bambusero gives root depths for bamboo
Keywords: running bamboo, clumping bamboo, solutions for bamboo

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.