How To Kill Bamboo Plants And Control Bamboo Spread

Tall Green Bamboo Plants
control bamboo
(Image credit: blew_i)

A homeowner who has had bamboo thrust upon them by a careless neighbor or a previous homeowner knows that trying to get rid of bamboo can be a nightmare. Eliminating bamboo plants is one of the toughest things you can do in the garden, but it can be done. 

With diligence and perseverance, you can control the bamboo spread and even kill bamboo plants that have invaded unwanted places. Keep reading to learn more about how to eliminate bamboo plants in your garden.

How to Get Rid of Bamboo

Eliminating bamboo plants starts with a shovel. The creeping rhizomes and roots of bamboo are virtually immune to the herbicides people normally use on unwanted plants. In order to start to get rid of bamboo, you must physically dig up the offending clump. 

Make sure you remove as many of the roots as possible. After this, you are NOT done in your efforts to control bamboo spread. This is just the beginning. Even if you think you remove all of the bamboo roots and rhizomes, it will return. From here you have two options in how to eliminate bamboo. 

You can either diligently kill bamboo plants as the plants reemerge or you can get rid of the bamboo by mowing it down frequently. If you opt to get rid of bamboo with chemical controls, as soon as you see new bamboo shoots emerge, spray them with the strongest herbicide you can buy. 

Eliminating bamboo plants with this method requires that you be very diligent. If you allow a bamboo shoot to grow for too long without treating it, you will have to start over in your control bamboo spread. If you would like an organic method of eliminating bamboo plants and shoots as they emerge, you can also use boiling water on the shoots.

As with the chemical method, you must treat any bamboo shoots as soon as they appear. If you decide to get rid of bamboo with the mowing method, mow over the area where the bamboo was as frequently as you do your lawn. Use the lowest deck setting on your mower.

Regardless of the method you use to kill bamboo plants, expect that it will take you two to three years of treating the infested area before you will completely control bamboo spread.

How to Control Bamboo Spread from Neighboring Properties

If you find your efforts to kill bamboo plants thwarted by spread from a neighbor, you will need to build a barrier to keep the bamboo from spreading to your yard. The barrier can be made of concrete or metal. 

Wood can also be used, but be aware that it will eventually decompose and the bamboo will push through again. The barrier will need to go down 2 feet (0.5 m.) deep and should come up at least 6 inches (15 cm.). Inspect the barrier every few months to make sure that no bamboo has crept over the barrier.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.