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How to Kill Bamboo Roots

By Jennifer Loucks ; Updated September 21, 2017

Bamboo is a fast-growing woody perennial that is invasive and spreads through an underground rhizome system. A grove of bamboo stalks is generally one plant that has spread by use of the rhizomes. This makes removal of the plants difficult, especially when the plant has spread to your property from a neighbor. Build a rhizome barrier when planting new bamboo or after removal to prevent new bamboo growth on your property.

Eliminating Bamboo

Cut down the bamboo stalks at the ground level to eliminate all green growth.

Dig a ditch around the underground rhizomes and remove as many rhizome shoots as possible. Advanced growth may require a pry bar to remove the rhizomes from the ground.

Wait for new shoots to appear on rhizomes that were missed and repeat the process of eliminating as much of the underground rhizome structure as possible. Cutting the green shoots will deplete the bamboo plant's energy reserves.

Mow over new shoot growth as it emerges instead of digging and cutting. This process will eventually dry out the rhizome and eliminate the bamboo growth.

Use a strong chemical herbicide to kill remaining bamboo growth after completing the cutting and digging steps several times. Be cautious if the bamboo plant is spreading to your property from a neighbor as the herbicide will also kill his plant.

Dump boiling water on the bamboo shoots as they appear if an organic method of elimination is preferred over chemical. This treatment must be repeated as new bamboo growth appears.

Create a rhizome barrier to prevent bamboo from spreading. Dig a 2- to 3-foot trench that slants outward near the top. Insert a concrete, plastic or metal barrier that sticks out of the ground 1 inch. The rhizomes will bend upward when they reach the barrier instead of spreading horizontally.

Inspect the barrier on a yearly basis and remove shoots that have grown over the top.


Things You Will Need

  • Hand pruner
  • Shovel
  • Pry bar
  • Mower
  • Chemical herbicide
  • Boiling water
  • Rhizome barrier


  • Be diligent in removing the bamboo growth. Waiting too long to repeat the steps will allow the plant to spread and grow stronger.
  • Bamboo is difficult to eliminate and may take two to three years to completely remove.

About the Author


Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.