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How to Kill Bamboo

While bamboo can look quite pretty, it can also be an invasive plant. It is hard to get rid of, no matter what method you choose. Luckily, it's not impossible to remove. Whether you go for the chemical, organic, or physical methods, you will be doing a fair amount of digging up rhizomes (underground stems) and cutting down the stalks. The best way, of course, is to prevent your bamboo from ever becoming a problem.

Method One of Three:
Killing Bamboo with Chemicals
Edit

  1. 1
    Cut the bamboo down to soil level and wait for new shoots to grow back. Before you spray new bamboo leaves, make sure that you either cut or mow it down and then allow it to regrow. It sounds weird, but you need to let new bamboo grow. Bamboo herbicide won't be effective if the canes of the bamboo are well-developed.
    • Bamboo is stringy but not very hard. A "lopper", which looks like a scissors with huge handles and a little jaw, cuts it much better than a saw.
    • Cut the bamboo down in late winter so that you can be applying to herbicide on the new growth in late spring or early summer.
  2. 2
    Sever any underground rhizomes when new shoots start to grow back. Use a sharp spade (or other sharp garden implement) to cut down the bamboo and sever the rhizomes of the bamboo.[1] Break up as many clumps of rhizomes as possible.
    • Rhizomes are masses of roots that grow underground. These root-stalks grow horizontally underground in clumps and then send new shoots up beyond the surface when the plant is ready to grow.
    • You probably recognize rhizomes if you've ever eaten ginger and galangal, or have seen raw turmeric. These roots with many offshoots are what the underground rhizomes of the bamboo plant should look like.
  3. 3
    Apply glyphosate herbicide to the leaves, stalks, and shoots of the bamboo. Glyphosate herbicide only kills the plants that it comes into direct contact with. This means that you'll need to be careful about applying it only to the bamboo.[2] Most glyphosate herbicides need to be sprayed onto the leaves, stalks, and shoots of the plant and allowed enough time to penetrate before any water dilutes it. Unless instructed to do so, do not apply glyphosate herbicide to the soil surrounding the bamboo, as it will be ineffective.
    • To reduce the risk of killing the wrong plant or over-spraying, you can paint the herbicide onto leaves and stalks with a brush instead of spraying the plant.
    • If you're near a water supply (river, lake, ocean, etc.) make sure that you're using an herbicide that's meant for eradicating plants near water. You don't want to contaminate nearby bodies of water.
  4. 4
    Alternately, use a stump and root killer on the bamboo. Another way to mow down bamboo in its tracks is to cut down the canes and then apply a stump and root killer containing glyphosate or triclopyr to the foliage of any regrowth and to the cut stump.
  5. 5
    Repeat treatment. One application won't eradicate the infestation; bamboo is tough and has a tendency to spread like wildfire. (Unfortunately, even wildfire can't completely get rid of this pest!) As the bamboo continues to send up shoots, you'll need to continually apply the herbicide treatment to the leaves, stalks, and shoots of the plant in order to properly exterminate it.
    • When using any kind of herbicide, remember to consult instructions that come with packaging. Some herbicide instructions may differ significantly from the advice offered in this tutorial. When push comes to shove, defer to instructions that come with the herbicide product.
    • You should also use this herbicide method in conjunction with rooting out the rhizomes of the bamboo, so that it doesn't keep sending up shoots.
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Method Two of Three:
Killing Bamboo without Chemicals
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  1. 1
    Dig out the plant. This is one of the main, non-chemical ways to kill your bamboo. Use a sharp spade, mattock, or saw to cut the plant down and dig it out. Like all the other methods and ways, this will take some paying attention to the bamboo and continuing to root out its different culms (bamboo stalks) and rhizomes (bamboo's underground stems).[3]
    • You will want to cut down the clumps, but you'll also want to root out the rhizomes, otherwise the beast will keep growing. Rhizomes grow in the top foot of soil, so you'll want to dig down until you find them.
    • Sever the rhizomes as you go, especially if you want to keep some of the bamboo plant. This will keep it from sending out more shoots.
    • Keep cutting it down and digging it out. You will need to do this until the bamboo plant stops sending up shoots. This can take months, or even years to accomplish, but there isn't a faster way, because bamboo is so pervasive and resistant.
    • If you want to eradicate bamboo on your property, you must remove all rhizomes.
  2. 2
    Mow the area regularly. Bamboo, like grass, is fine for the occasional mowing, but it does not like frequent mowing. This can help reduce the stalks, especially on a plant that hasn't grown too huge (you'll have less luck mowing bamboo stalks that have grown huge, unless you cut them down first).[4]
    • Mowing the bamboo frequently can reduce the rhizomes, because it takes away their way of collecting food (from the sun through their leaves).
    • You will have to mow whenever you see stalks arising, because this method can take awhile.
  3. 3
    Deplete the plant's stored food. Another way you can get rid of your bamboo is to basically starve it. You should start by cutting down the stalks below the soil line and then placing a dark tarp or thick piece of plastic over the top of the area. This will make it so the plant is cut off from rain, sun and air which will eventually kill it.[5]
    • Anchor the tarp or plastic down. People tend to use cinder blocks, but anything heavy enough to keep the tarp down will work fine. You have to make sure that the plastic or tarp does not move, because the point is to cut the bamboo off from the elements.
    • If you get new growth coming up beyond the perimeter of the tarp, you'll need to immediately either spray it with herbicide (containing triclopyr), or cut it down and put a cinder block or another tarp over the area.
    • Again, this can take awhile, so you have to be patient. Leave the tarp there for at least a month or so (but it can take up to a year to really eradicate the bamboo).
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Method Three of Three:
Keeping Bamboo Contained
Edit

  1. 1
    Set up an open-sided barrier. Dig a curved or half-circle trench around your bamboo. The barrier should be 28" deep to be effective, which is deeper than most rhizomes can go. The benefits to an open sided barrier are that the bamboo doesn't get too root bound in its enclosed space, and makes sure that the bamboo has adequate drainage. You can also use it to set up a border along a fence line or property line, which can help keep your bamboo from escaping into your neighbor's yard or vice versa.[6]
    • If you're in a DIY sort of mood, you can make the barrier from concrete, metal, or plastic. Any of them are good. Be aware that rhizomes may be able to travel through wood. Its use is discouraged.
    • One really effective and highly-used material is a high-density polypropylene — 40 mil or heavier. This sort of specialized bamboo barrier usually costs between $3 and $4 per foot, depending on the material and thickness.
    • If setting up a barrier along a fence, place it directly alongside the fence, with about 2 inches (5.1 cm) of barrier above ground.
    • An open-sided barrier will require annual root pruning to contain the bamboo.
  2. 2
    Set up a fully enclosed barrier. Like the open-sided barrier, enclosed barriers will need to be at least two to three feet deep. Unlike the open-sided barrier, it will enclose the bamboo all around, so that no rhizomes should escape. The biggest benefit to this one is the obvious one — it keeps the bamboo completely contained, although you may still have to check for rhizomes.
    • Again, make sure that at least 2 inches (5.1 cm) of barrier is visible above the ground, because this will allow you to detect any rhizomes trying to escape over the sides.
  3. 3
    Consider hedging bamboo in on one side with a pond or stream. If planned properly, a pond or stream coupled with a three-sided enclosure will act as a decorative but effective barrier against the bamboo. The stream itself serves as the fourth wall, since bamboo rhizomes cannot travel across water.
  4. 4
    Periodically check for escaping rhizomes. If your enclosure is deep enough and well-constructed, your bamboo shouldn't have very many places to grow. Still, you'll have to keep vigilant watch on your bamboo to make sure it isn't creeping out of its designated area. If you do catch some unruly bamboo rhizomes, remove them entirely: Cut them up beneath the surface and consider using any of the steps mentioned above to fully kill the bamboo.
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Community Q&A

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Add New Question
  • Can the area be covered with concrete if I want to get rid of bamboo?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Bamboo can not only survive concrete, but also break through it eventually, cracking and ruining your concrete.
    Thanks! 12 2
  • Will a controlled fire destroy bamboo?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Unfortunately, no. The bamboo will regrow.
    Thanks! 14 4
  • After removing bamboo, do I need to remove the remaining roots in the soil or can I kill them off with root killer?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • The roots will be attached to a bit of rhizome, so you do need to remove everything that you find. You can remove most of it and then treat new growth as it appears, thus getting the best out of the two methods.
    Thanks! 23 9
  • Where do I buy the bamboo barrier?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Try your local hardware store. Or google it - there are plenty of suppliers online. Don't forget eBay, too.
    Thanks! 14 5
  • If invasive bamboo is growing in an area that I plan to backfill, will it grow up through my new soil?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It will, though it may take a little time to show through.
    Thanks! 13 5
  • Does the poison have any harmful effect on humans?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It is toxic to animals (including humans) at some doses, but glyphosate is a pretty safe option for killing bamboo.
    Thanks! 23 12
  • Can I use a heavy-duty tiller to break up the rhizomes?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes - if you want a whole bunch of new rhizomes evenly spread out in easy-to-grow-in soil so they pop up even better. The only way to get rid of it is physically removing the roots and watching out for what grows from seeds, then remove any of that new growth with gusto.
    Thanks! 17 9
  • Will boiling water kill the roots?
    Answered by Rob Taylor
    • Technically, yes. But on order to kill it, you must heat the root up to boiling point. The most you will accomplish by pouring hot water on it is to scald the outside surface of the root.
    Thanks! 10 5
  • How can I kill the bamboo in my farm pond without hurting the fish?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Bamboo does not normally grow in water. It must be another type of weed. Check with your local extension service.
    Thanks! 3 1
  • Instead of using chemicals on the shaft, once cut, would rock salt poured in and covered kill it?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • No. About the only thing that will kill it is Triox, if they still make it.
    Thanks! 9 9
Show more answers
  • How do I remove all the bamboo in my yard and not have it come back?
  • How long does it take to "suffocate" bamboo?
  • Should I have my soil tested if someone applied poison to my lawn?
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Quick Summary

If you need to kill bamboo and you don’t want to use any chemicals, use a sharp spade or saw to cut the plant down and dig it out. The bamboo has horizontal roots, or rhizomes, that send up multiple shoots. It can take awhile, but if you dig the rhizomes up whenever you see new shoots forming, eventually you will eradicate the bamboo. You an also cut the stalks below the soil line and cover the area with a dark tarp for about a month to starve the plant of sun, air, and rain.

TipsEdit

  • Clumping bamboo (unlike running bamboo, which is the most invasive and difficult to get rid of) can be a better option if you still want bamboo in your yard. However, it can also get out of hand, and the above methods are good for getting rid of it, as well.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Dried bamboo's leaves can be sharp. The unwanted bamboo is easiest to move to the desired location such as a compost heap or curb for environmentally-friendly yard waste pickup when fresh cut.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Some zoos take bamboo to feed pandas. If you want to donate yours, find out when they want it before cutting, and wait until it's well away to get out the chemicals.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • If you plant a bamboo in a container you won't have to worry about it sending out runners all across your yard. It's a good way to enjoy bamboo without all the hassle.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Dried bamboo can be used to build trellises in the garden or for small construction projects.
    0 Helpful?  0
Add

WarningsEdit

  • Wear gloves when applying the herbicides, otherwise your skin could get irritated.
    17 Helpful?  15
  • Make sure that you apply the herbicides only to the plants you want to kill, otherwise you'll damage other plants in your garden..
    11 Helpful?  9

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Expert Review By:

AC
Professional Gardener

This version of How to Kill Bamboo was reviewed by Andrew Carberry on February 17, 2017.

40 votes - 90%
Co-authors: 22
Updated:
Views: 393,286

Reader Success Stories

  • MF

    Martin Flanders

    Jul 19, 2016

    "It took me almost 10 years of digging to get it under control at my NH farm. Pure and simple manual labor! To be honest it got into one of my fields the spring we sold the old place. Some of those root balls I dug up were the size of a cows head!"..." more
  • A

    Anonymous

    Jul 3, 2017

    "I have found a machete works really well trimming them back to about 8 inches. Just be careful not to trim back your legs or toes while you are at it. I'm going to try the tarp method and a barrier of gravel. Ditch witch, here I come."..." more
  • DP

    Denise Plaia

    Aug 19, 2016

    "It was very helpful to me. I am fighting bamboo from my neighbor's yard. It grew over into my yard, and now it's a never-ending battle. I'm going to try the tarp idea and see if it works. Thanks."..." more
  • PL

    Pamela La Londe

    Apr 9, 2017

    "I have a severe bamboo infestation in my yard started from one shoot, and this sounds as if it will work. This article was extremely helpful. Thank you. "..." more
  • SN

    Steve Nicolaus

    May 18, 2016

    "Very helpful. It came from my neighbor's yard into my flower garden. "
  • TJ

    Tom Johnson

    May 5, 2016

    "I definitely learned a few things from this beneficial article. "
  • A

    Anonymous

    Jun 25, 2017

    "How to use chemicals to kill the trees."
  • NP

    Nicole Peyer

    Jun 25, 2016

    "Great and practical ideas. Thank you!"
  • DJ

    Diana James

    Apr 27, 2016

    "This helped me get started."
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