How To Kill Bamboo

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This article provides tips and instructions for killing unwanted bamboo plants
by Brett · All Zones · Weeds and Invasive Plants · 2 Comments · April 28, 2012 · 35,884 views

Bamboo is one of the most difficult plants to eradicate. There are two basic types of bamboo: running bamboo and clumping bamboo. Running bamboo typically spreads more rapidly from underground rhizomes (spreading roots) while clumping bamboo spreads more slowly and forms the "clump."

Many gardeners plant bamboo without knowing how invasive it can be, and how quickly it can spread. Often times, the bamboo spreads so quickly in the landscape or garden that before you know it you've got a grove going on that continues to spread. That's when many gardeners start to regret ever having planted it. If you've just got to have some bamboo in your garden, make sure to take steps to contain its spread. Plant it in a large solid container that can be buried in the ground or dig a 30 inch deep trench around the area you want to grow it and fill this trench with solid concrete.

How To Kill Bamboo

With Herbicide

For most people, the first and easiest method used to attempt to kill bamboo involves the use of an herbicide (weed killer). This method works best on clumping bamboo or if you have a small area or just a few shoots of running bamboo. It involves pruning the bamboo shoots down to 6 inches above the ground and, then, within 15 SECONDS of making your cut, quickly paint on an undiluted herbicide containing at least 41% glyophosate, such as super-concentrate Killzall or Glyphosel.

If you have running bamboo covering a large area it may be necessary to dig it out to a depth of 18 inches or so with a larger piece of equipment such as a backhoe. Then, to contain any remaining rhizomes (roots) that were missed, you'll have to dig a 30 inch deep ditch around the entire bamboo grove area. This ditch will need to be filled with concrete or a steel or heavy plastic barrier to contain any leftover rhizomes and keep them from spreading. This is a major undertaking and can be quite expensive. If your bamboo is growing among desirable plants or trees digging it out this way could damage the roots and possibly kill them.

Burning To Death!

Another way to eliminate bamboo shoots is to burn them to death. But this method will also kill other plants sharing the area with the bamboo. To do this method, during the hottest part of summer cut down the bamboo shoots to a few inches above the ground. Then spread generous amounts of ammonium nitrate fertilizer over the entire area where the bamboo is growing. You want the fertilizer to just about cover the ground. Then cover the entire area with transparent plastic film, using rocks or something heavy around the edges and towards the interior to hold the film down. After a few days, the bamboo shoots will be cooked from too much heat, the high-power nitrogen fertilizer, and a lack of oxygen. After a few weeks, when it appears all the bamboo shoots are dead, you can remove the plastic film. It would still be a good idea to dig up the dead bamboo shoots just in case there are some remaining live rhizomes that could shoot up new growth. Or, if shoots pop up cut and paint them with the glyphosate herbicide as mentioned above.


If your neighbor has bamboo that is spreading to your property you can dig a 30 inch deep ditch and insert a 30 inch tall metal or hard plastic sheeting as a barrier to prevent further spreading.

What I Would Do

If it were me, I'd try the herbicide method first. You might have a year long or more battle on your hands but, if you stay persistent, you can win. Then, if the herbicide method was unsuccessful, I'd try the cooking method. But, remember, the cooking method will kill desirable plants as well. As a last resort, I'd hire a contractor who specializes in and guarantees eradication of invasive plants.

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Carol Wood

Carol Wood · Gardenality Seed · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
My yard is almost an acre. The back is quite large, and I'm on a creek. I've gotten past worrying about contaminating the creek, although I'm being very careful to do my best in that regard. My problem: my neighbor has a large stand of bamboo between her pool and my fence, as well as a much larger stand on the area behind her fence along the creek. When I moved in 18 or so years ago, there was no bamboo in my yard, and I immediately had a deep trench dug and a plastic barrier installed along my fence and their bamboo by a friend of my son's who had a landscape company (he no longer has this company). He did a superior job, and that lasted over ten years, but the bamboo in her yard finally grew further toward the front yard and around my barrier toward the front. At the back, the huge stand of bamboo started coming up the slope of my yard from their yard. At first I didn't mind the bamboo toward the back on the creek because it was behind my back fence, but it was marching across my yard and over my concrete steps down toward the creek. I cut that back for a few years. But to make matters worse, her son, who doesn't work, lives on disability - his back, moved in to the other side of my yard - so their two yards are on both sides of me. He works on muscle cars on a slab less than 10 feet from my house, and he cusses at me if I go outside. So I finally quit going into my back yard (the reason I bought this house in the first place). That was about eight years ago, which was about when the bamboo along my side fence breached the barrier we had put in. Since I wouldn't go in the back anymore, the bamboo has taken over the majority of my yard, inside my fence as well as along the creek. My nephew filed a cease and desist against the neighbors, for other things, which has helped a bit, so I have recently begun to work to reclaim my yard, possibly so that I can sell it. I can't imagine anyone buying a house that is covered with bamboo. On advice from an arborist, I have had most of the bamboo cut to the ground (kept a 12 x 8 foot patch to block out neighbors). It took two and three men 4 days, or was it five days, to cut it all down. It took two plus city trucks on bulky trash day to pick it all up, it cost a little over $900, and it is all back. I have sprayed with tough brush killer, but I had waited until it was too mature, and the brush killer didn't seem to affect it (did kill one big poison ivy plant). I knew I would have to do this over and over, but I didn't realize that I would have to start the expensive cutting down to the ground process all over again. I am really daunted as to how to proceed, I have so many other things I need to do, and this is a full time job. Sorry, this is a long explanation for a simple question. What do you know about city codes and rules of conduct for people who plant invasive foliage? Shouldn't there be laws that these people should bear the cost and pay for the lost time they cause with their indiscriminate use of these plants (I also have a battle with her Boston ivy, and now she's planted more ivy in the front that has moved across my bed of liriope and into my grass). What are your feelings on this subject? Beleaguered Neighbor

6 years ago ·
0 Green Thumbs Up · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Sounds like you've been through a nightmare with your neighbors and the invasive bamboo. I don't know why people plant spreading bamboo when there are clumping varieties that aren't nearly as invasive. I'm not sure what state you are in but there are usually laws regarding the planting of invasive species. For example. here in Georgia it is against the lawn to plant spreading bamboo without taking measure to keep it contained. You might want to call your Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment or Department of Natural Resources to find out if there is any action you can take against your neighbor to receive some compensation for the containment and removal of the bamboo. You could also call your Local Extension Service agent or an arborist for consultation as to how to proceed.

Regarding eradication of the bamboo, are you cutting it down and then planning on spraying any new shoots with a glyphosate-based herbicide? That might be one method to control it. Otherwise, hiring a contractor to dig it out to a depth of 18 inches or more might be necessary for permanent control. Even then, you can only remove the plants on your property so will have to extend your barrier to prevent it from spreading back onto your property. In any event, sounds like you have some terrible neighbors. If it were me, I'd do what was necessary to eradicate the bamboo and then put a for sale sign in the front yard. This might be why I live on a 2 acre property without neighbors too close. In a subdivision or neighborhood we don't get to choose our neighbors.

Hope you can get that bamboo under control!


6 years ago ·
0 Green Thumbs Up


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