How to Get Rid of Bamboo Plants

It is a common practice to grow bamboo plants for adding structure and exotic appeal to a landscaped area. However, bamboo presents one unique problem: It grows very quickly, beyond a manageable height. Bamboo shoots tend to grow through barriers around the garden space, damaging them permanently. When the wild-growing bamboo grove seems to be taking over your garden, there is no other solution but to remove it. However, removing bamboo from your yard is not an easy task. Equipping yourself with the basics of bamboo removal is necessary to identify which method is more suited to your requirement. 

Getting Started

The first step to removing bamboo is to identify the kind of bamboo that you are dealing with. Household bamboo types are categorized under running or clumping bamboo. Running bamboo is renowned for its highly-penetrative rhizomes that spread quickly. It requires complete removal as even the smallest of rhizome remainders can quickly bloom into a full-grown bamboo grove. Shoots of clumping bamboo don’t spread as quickly as that of running bamboo. Clumping bamboo is usually manageable with regular pruning. However, if left unattended for an extended period, it too needs comprehensive removal. The most-effective bamboo removal methods include: 

1. Containment—Bamboo spreads through its typical stem-like structures called rhizomes. The thickly-built rhizomes spread deep into the soil, giving the bamboo plant a solid base. You should cut through the rhizomes with lopping shears. The cut rhizomes should be shoveled away to ensure that none of them are grounded by mistake. You can cover the entire area with a plastic sheet to ensure that the surviving rhizomes suffocate to death, i.e. without sunlight and oxygen. 

2. Starvation—This method is highly recommended for permanently removing bamboo. You need to dig a 30-inch deep trench in the area around the bamboo plant. This can be done using a spade. The trench has to be filled with wet concrete to suffocate the roots. Concrete sets quickly ensuring that the roots cannot extend any deeper, i.e. the bamboo plant cannot absorb nutrients from the soil and gradually dies. 

3. Setting-up Barriers—You can install thick metal or plastic sheets around the rhizomes. The rhizomes are pushed against the sheets, towards the surface of the soil rather than inside it. This gradually cuts-off the supply of food to the stem, ensuring that the bamboo plant dies. For making an effective barrier, dig-up at least 2-foot deep trenches around the rhizomes. The sheets should be secured in the trenches with wet mortar. 

4. Using Herbicides—Most commercial herbicides cannot ensure complete eradication of bamboos from your garden. However, when used in a certain way, herbicides can be quite effective. The trick is to cut the bamboo shoots with a pair of shears. Now, immediately rub the cut bamboo surface with herbicides. This method ensures that the herbicide is able to seep into the bamboo stem and choke the plant from within. Just spraying the herbicides seldom helps. 

5. Applying Nitrogen Fertilizer—This method is particularly useful during hot seasons. Using shears, cut down the bamboo shoots to within a few inches from the ground. The nitrogen fertilizer has to be sprinkled all over the trimmed bamboo grove. Covering the grove with a plastic sheet is recommended for faster results. The sheet and the nitrogen raise the temperature beyond the bearing limit of the bamboo plant, eventually cooking it to its death.