A very tall member of the grass family, bamboo plants range from 12 inches to 60 feet tall, depending on the cultivar. These plants thrive in tropical and subtropical areas with average to fertile soils. Many types also grow as far north as the New England states. This tall grass provides interest in landscape screens and living fences. Running bamboo spreads by forming new shoots near the base of the parent plants. This invasive tendency causes problems in many landscapes. Remove sections of running bamboo to protect nearby plants.
Cut the rhizomes of the running bamboo. Separate the portion you want to kill from any part you want to save by breaking through the underground stem connecting plants to one another. Look for rhizomes in the upper part of the soil, between separate culms. These rhizomes run parallel to the surface of the soil. Brush away the soil above the rhizomes, and use a spade or saw to cut through this portion of the plant.
Cut entire rhizomes level with the ground. Kill new growth and spreading growth in running bamboo by cutting down just the new shoots. This type of pruning eliminates the spread of this type of bamboo. Look for small shoots near the parent plant in the spring, between March and May. Use sharp pruning shears to snip these sections at ground level. Repeat this process annually to continue killing the new sprouts and limit the spread of the bamboo stand. Kill entire stands by cutting down the parent plants to the same level. Mow large segments as short as possible to eliminate as much visible growth as possible.
Dig out roots with a garden shovel. Pull up rhizomes to avoid future growth near the removed stand. Running bamboo roots often extend deep into the soil and resist removal. Loosen stubborn roots by applying water the evening before removal. Dig up and pull out as many buried roots as possible to minimize the chances of new growth from stubborn roots.
Use herbicides as a last resort. These chemicals pose a hazard to animals, humans and nearby plants. If your running bamboo resists mechanical removal, apply a nonselective herbicide. Herbicides containing glyphosate effectively kill stubborn running bamboo. Apply this chemical according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid contact with desirable plants when applying this chemical.