The Q&A Archives: Switch Cane

Question: How can Switch Cane be controlled? It is taking over my yard. It was planted as a fence but is now 20-25 ft tall and invading everything. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Answer: Switch Cane is Arundinaria gigantea 'tecta', also known as giant bamboo. Bamboo is really just a tall, sturdy grass that spreads by underground runners or rhizomes. It's extremely difficult to eradicate, unless you painstakingly cut it down and dig out the last of the roots. Herbicides might slow its growth for a time but it seems to come back even stronger after application. Start by cutting down the plants, and keeping any sprouts that show up whacked off. Dig the roots out and keep cutting back any new shoots that emerge. If you keep the tops cut down the roots will eventually run out of energy to produce new sprouts. You might be able to speed the starving process by covering the soil with black plastic to eliminate light. Good luck with your project!

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