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How to Kill Japanese Bamboo

By G.K. Bayne ; Updated September 21, 2017

Japanese bamboo is an invasive plant. Once cultivated as an ornamental species, the plant escaped from cultivation and is now considered an obnoxious weed. According to the University of Rhode Island, the native Japanese plant is extremely difficult to eradicate. The 4- to 8-feet-high plant with stout bushy and woody stalks spreads through deep rhizomes. The succulent tops are killed back by seasonal frosts. While the tops can be cut back, the strong underground rhizomes keep this plant coming back each spring.

Organic Method

Spread two layers of soft black polyethylene plastic over the entire area of the growing plant. Overlap the edges of the plastic by a couple of feet if the width of the plastic will not cover the entire bamboo growing area.

Hold the plastic down to the soil surface by laying old boards or tree limbs on top of it.

Keep the plastic in place for up to two years. The black plastic withholds the needed sunlight from the plant and eventually weakens it enough for the bamboo to die.

Chemical Method

Mix the herbicide to full strength according to the label directions.

Apply a drenching spray to all parts of the plant in late August through early September. This may be the most vulnerable time of the year for all plants. These two types of herbicide are nonselective; the herbicidal chemical will kill all plants with which it comes into contact.

Apply the same dosage and herbicide to any remaining parts of the plant the following year. It usually takes multiple efforts to kill this invasive plant.


Things You Will Need

  • Black polyethylene plastic
  • Old boards or dead tree limbs
  • Herbicide (dicamba, glyphosate)
  • Sprayer


  • Keep children and pets from all areas treated with any chemical product.