Bamboo is often recognised by its leafy branches and tall shoots, and is often used decoratively, whether indoors, or around the garden. For many homeowners, bamboo is even desirable, often used as an ornamental plant that can add structure and height to a garden. These range in application, where bamboo has been used for hedging or as centrepieces of a garden’s design.
Left unmanaged, however, bamboo can become invasive, grow rapidly, and spread across property boundaries. If it becomes out of control, bamboo removal can require extensive excavation.
Is Bamboo A Problem?
When dealing with bamboo, there are different varieties to be aware of. It’s helpful to understand the differences between clump-forming and running varieties.
Clumping-forming bamboo creates root clumps or masses in the ground, and they spread gradually outward from the centre of the plant. This type of bamboo is less invasive, easier to manage, and is often used ornamentally.
The problem comes from the invasive types of bamboo, called running bamboo. This spreads through long rhizomes, which grow horizontally underground, sprouting seemingly at random. If the roots spread aggressively, plant shoots could affect neighbouring properties, or even colonise other plants.
Stop Invasive Bamboo
There are a few approaches to eradicating invasive bamboo, especially once it becomes unmanageable. Whether using chemical weedkillers, digging it up or installing a root barrier, bamboo can be managed. Depending on your circumstances, there are different advantages and shortcomings to each technique.
How to Remove Bamboo Permanently
You can either use weedkiller to restrict growth or eradicate the whole plant. As you can imagine, the bigger the plant, the more it has spread, the harder it is to kill. It can be a long and costly process that can end up not fully working, without the skills of a professional.
Option 1: Removing unwanted growth
First, hew off any unwanted roots (rhizomes) from the plant with a spade, or similarly sharp device.
Then, thickly coat glyphosate weed killer over the foliage or the section you want to kill. Glyphosate stops the plant from creating the necessary proteins it needs to grow, but it can be incredibly dangerous to humans, so ensuring you use it with great care is necessary.
If it regrows, treat the foliage in the same way.
Option 2: Eradicating the whole plant
If you’ve got very tall bamboo, or simply want it gone, then cut down the canes to soil level in the late winter, and apply a glyphosate-based product to the young growth in late spring and early summer.
Or, you can cut the canes to soil level and treat with a specific stump and root killer that contains glyphosate.
If you need an alternative method to eradicating unruly bamboo, here are some options:
Option 1: Dig out the clumps and roots
It’s a long and laborious task but simply digging out the roots, and the entire plant, can help to remove it. While it is hard to remove all the long rhizomes, it can temporarily reduce the amount of bamboo.
Better used as a preventative measure, or before you plant bamboo, you can add a physical barrier after planting plants to prevent them from spreading any further. Japanese Knotweed Specialists, for example, use a copper lined vertical membrane to prevent the plant from spreading back after excavating.
To do this:
Dig a trench around the bamboo to around 50cm deep.
Remove all the rhizomes you find outside of the clump.
Install the barrier, choosing one that allows drainage.
Backfill the trench with clean soil that contains no extra rhizomes.
None of these methods, when not carried out by professionals, offer a guarantee that invasive bamboo will be completely eradicated. While these methods can work, we highly emphasise the importance of using a specialist for invasive species removal to ensure the risk is eliminated.