Kill Bamboo

Kill bamboo... there are species of bamboo can become overwhelming in your garden and can also become a nuisance by growing across your boundary into your neighbours land.

You can resort to killing the plants to stop them from spreading where they are unwanted but killing them is difficult and they are very hard to dig up!

Bamboo roots and shoot to kill

However, if you do persevere you can get rid of the problem bamboo.

I have included several pages with information about the different types of bamboo and their growth habits, how to go about killing the plants, how to control them, how to transplant bamboo, and methods of containing bamboo with different kinds of barriers so that they don't become a problem.

For detailed tips and guides:

How to Kill Bamboo - My step by step guide for domestic bamboo.

Bamboo Control and Containment

Kill Bamboo Alternative - See how to keep your bamboo under control without killing it.

Bamboo Rhizome Barrier

Container Bamboo

Transplanting Bamboo

Tips Posted by Readers

Here are some posts by visitors to this site who have either; managed to get rid of their bamboo, are in the process of killing it, or have had little success and are frustrated with the issue. Some don’t want to use chemicals and have dug up the rhizomes, some have a problem with the neighbours bamboo invading across the boundary because there is no barrier in place, and others try different chemicals to eradicate problem bamboos. Make your own contribution here.

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Very Succesful Killing Bamboo Method by Carol (Raleigh NC)

Digging up bamboo would be great but we have way too much for that and some of it is growing under a huge oak tree, no digging there. So, I cut each cane about two feet from the ground, immediately after each cut I jammed a steel rod down into the membranes to open them up and poured 1T undiluted, concentrated roundup in the cavity. This works so well it will even kill some of the untreated canes down from the treated cane on the same rhizome.

This is a rather toxic method as often the canes will fill with water and ooze some of the concentrated roundup, so don't let pets or people walk in the area for quite some time. You could use this same method and cut the canes all the way to the ground if you prefer, I left mine 2ft tall so I could keep an eye on them and the oozing roundup.

I also have a larger area of bamboo that would have been too time consuming to do this way so we cut them down to the ground and let the shoots start growing again and I've been spraying the new leafy shoots with regular diluted roundup, so far some success but not a lot, I've sprayed them a couple of times, I'll keep at it and hope that by the 4th time I'll kill them. Now, I wish I had just taken the time (whew) and done each one by my first method, maybe it would have saved time in the long run. Huge job either way but it must be killed!!

We Killed the Bamboo by Jeanne (Oregon)

Not wanting to use chemicals in our ground soil (well one of us didn't want to use chemicals), we opted for the digging method. This is truly hard work (but, a great work out) and some simple tools are necessary. We used a pick axe, shovel, pruning shears, and a hoe.

The pick axe would work through the smaller root systems (we called them capillaries) and then we would use the shovel to pull them up from the underneath - the hoe would hold the system up while the non-chemical spouse dug deeper with the shovel.

The rhizomes (look like the harnesses from "Falling Skies") were cut and pulled out until the entire section reached the "Mother Ship". This (some as long as six feet) was cut into pieces and dug out.

Yes, this was hard work! We cleared a 21 by 6 ft. section - this took about 18 hours and was done over four sessions. This method takes dedication, but the results have been incredible - no shoots in over three months - and while I would have preferred the chemical route, I am glad we went with this digging.

My Bamboo Experience by Bill (North Alabama)

My experience thus far (7 years now) has been that the stuff sprouts three different ways, all three types shooting up in the springtime.

  1. Tiny, delicate, bushy tufts that hug the ground. These grow very slowly but do become bushes. They look like adorable little Bonsai plants. Pruning shears cut them, no problem, but they tend to re-sprout in the same location, I'm assuming from the roots that remain.
  2. Slender shoots that are about 1/2" in diameter and are green right out of the ground. They Grow very fast and must be cut soon before they get any firmer. They grow about a foot per day. They do not sprout back in the same place.
  3. Enormous, waterlogged red shoots anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2" inches in diameter. These grow a minimum of one foot in 24 hours once they sprout and are over 6 inches tall but can be easily kicked over (soccer style) at ground level when about a foot tall and they don't come back in the same spot. Once the weather gets hot, these don't show up very often unless we get lots of rain.

I love the appearance of this plant but it has become horrifically invasive and has to be eradicated. I have about 1,000 square feet of bamboo to cut down. It will be VERY tedious, but it has to go. Rhizomes have caused sprouts to shoot up as far as fifty feet from the main stand. The network of rhizomes will be impossible to dig up with a shovel. It's like trying to put a shovel through a pile of 1/2" steel fishnet. I'll probably have to hire someone with a Bobcat to dig them up for me.

Complete Eradication of Running Bamboo by Trina (West Covina, CA)

I chose not to use chemicals because I was going to need the dirt/soil to grow grass. We ultimately ended up DIGGING UP ALL of the roots. My neighbor who shares the bamboo laughed at us asking if we thought that was going to do it.

We also dug sheets of metal as a barrier from his yard to ours. Five years later.....NOT ONE SHOOT.

Bamboo is vicious. If you know you don't want it or need to control it, try the metal sheets and/or digging up the roots. You will be successful with these 2 methods. No need to purchase harsh chemicals.

Comment: Digging up - by Caroline

Hi Trina. That's brilliant and it must have been really hard work to dig it all out.... I'm impressed. For anyone reading this who is interested in not using chemicals, see this page on alternative methods for controlling bamboo.

Diverting the rhizomes does work if it is coming through from a neighbouring property and would be a good long term solution as Trina has recommended. Thank you for your contribution Trina

Comment: Neighbors Bamboo - by Anonymous

My neighbors bamboo is growing on my side the length of my double lot - 100 feet plus the side and backyards of my 3 adjoining neighbors. I can't imagine digging that or all of the roots that pop up daily 15 feet into my yard. The runners freely sprout on my side. The neighbors side has a barrier (their large patio and double garage) on their side so it only spreads to their neighbors. I have spent 3 aggravating years without any success.

Comment: Boundary Control - by Caroline

Not sure of your exact layout but if it was possible for you to have a ditch down the boundary the bamboo would not cross it, or if it did you would be able to see the rhizomes and cut them within the ditch. Depending on how big the bamboo is, height and culm width etc, the ditch may need to be around a spade depth or a bit deeper. Once the ditch was in place you could kill the bamboo on your side without it effecting relations with your neighbors.

Kill their Bamboo from the Neighbor by allen (Oceanside)

The best non digging method I have found; cut stalks after they are about 1/2" thick, immediately flood the cut with the strongest herbicide you can get, so it is absorbed into the small tube inside the stalk. Round up works on foliage if repeated, and Vapam does well too. If the stalks haven't gotten big enough, and, there is foliage, drench the foliage with the strongest herbicide available, repeatedly over the course of a few weeks. If the foliage turns brown, it won't soak up any more herbicide, so don't waste it and your money.

Our bamboo was generously donated to my yard, by our thoughtful neighbour who planted it without knowing the repercussions, or anything else about bamboos. Of course, it's not running all over his yard, just mine.

If you plant bamboo, use only a clumping type, like green stripe or a smaller/shorter type. Green stripe is beautiful, but gets 40" tall.



Comment: I hate bamboo!! - by Anonymous

I recently moved into a new house to find that I had inherited bamboo. It had already spread across the lawn and was sprouting everywhere. We had it dug out which was a massive task but we can't get to the roots under the lawn. I'm obsessed by checking for new sprouting bamboo which I cut off straight away. Can someone reassure me that eventually it will die? Please!!!!!! I'm having nightmares.

Comment: Mowing new shoots - by Caroline

I did the same thing with some that I chopped down three years ago and hadn't got enough energy or resources to dig the roots out.

Last year I had a few small shoots come up in the main area of where the roots were that I chopped off immediately and they didn't grow again that year. About a week ago I noticed six shoots poking out of the ground in the same place so chopped them off.

It seems to have dramatically weakened the plant but it doesn't appear to be completely gone yet. However, I must say that before I chopped it down it was sending up runners 8 ft from the plant in all directions and none of those have come up since I initially chopped it down three years ago. Not a single one.

If it is on a lawn and you keep stopping the shoots from growing it will eventually be gone I'm sure.

Comment: It won't die - by kevin

I have lived in my house for 5 years with a modest clump of bamboo, sprouting away from the clump. This year, a dozen sprouts, all 10 feet away from the clump in all directions. Obviously the shoots can live underground without their own sprout for many years as long as there is a primary source to feed them. In this case our primary clump was supporting numerous underground shoots that are now planning their takeover of my lawn. And my clump seems connected to a lazy neighbor's clump. Time to get copper pipes...

Comment: 4 years to eradicate - by Anonymous

I have heard that if you cut it down and keep all new growth cut it will take 4 years to completely kill the clump. It must be in an area where you can completely see and get rid of all new growth, no hiding places for it to come up in shrubs or in the woods.

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