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Removing & Eradicating Bamboo

The aggressive, spreading growth characteristics of particular species of bamboo (especially running bamboo) can be quite invasive if not contained properly. See Controlling Bamboo Spread for bamboo containment. For the uncontained bamboo grove, the unwanted growth can overtake the landscape or garden. Bamboo removal is not a very complicated task but can be very laborious depending on the species and how established the bamboo is. Having an understanding of the the growth behaviour of bamboo can also assist in bamboo removal. See Bamboo Anatomy And Growth Habits.

There are a couple of methods of bamboo removal outlined below. One is for immediate results but is more labour intensive. The other method is a long term strategy that is less laborious but involves a lot more patience.

Bamboo Removal - Immediate Results

For immediate and more guaranteed results, complete removal of the root & rhizome is recommended. With a pruner or saw, start off by cutting down all culms at ground level and then removing them. This will give you better access to the ground below. The next step is to dig up and completely remove all the rhizomes. If possible, follow every rhizome in the ground and remove it. The use of a sharp spade or axe may be needed to break up the root systems of older more established bamboo groves. Try not to leave any fragmented bits of rhizome in the ground. Pieces of rhizomes left in the ground can potentially have energy stores to produce tiny new growth which can revive itself.

For clumping bamboos, the removal is a bit less laborious. Because clumping bamboos do not have the running rhizomes, the majority of their root system is situated in the immediate perimeter of the bamboo grove. Start off by cutting down all culms at ground level so that there is better access to the ground. First, dig around the perimeter of the bamboo plant and then working towards the center, removing the main root mass. The use of a sharp spade, axe or saw may be needed to break up the root systems of older, more established bamboo. Make sure to not leave any fragmented bits of rhizome in the ground.

Bamboo Removal - Long Term Strategy

Bamboo Removal Cut Culm
Cut Bamboo Culms At Ground Level

1.) Cut and Remove All Culms - Using a pruner or saw, completely sever all exposed culms at ground level. Be as thorough as possible as this step is essential to the eradication of the bamboo.

Removal of the culms prevents the ability of the bamboo to photosynethesis and produce energy. With no culms or leaves, essentially we are taking away the ability of the bamboo to produce energy.

Bamboo Removal Cut New Shoots
Remove All New Growth or Shoots

2.) Destroy All Future Growth - Even with all the culms removed, the root system below ground can still have energy reserves to produce new growth.

Monitor the area and immediately severe any new shoots or growth that emerge. The constant removal of new growth will eventually cause the bamboo to exhaust all its stored energy and die off. The key secret here is to be thorough with the removal of any new growth. Any new growth that is left unchallenged will just replenish the energy reserves in the root system and revive itself.

The time of full eradication will depend on the bamboo species and how established the bamboo grove is.

Will Roundup or Weed Killer Work?

Weed killers have minimal effect on bamboo as their roots systems are so immense. Extreme heavy and repeated applications of toxic chemicals are needed to eradicate bamboo and be effective. In support of environmental and green initiatives, this is highly not recommended.