The Q&A Archives: How to Get Rid of Bamboo

Question: How do you get rid of bamboo? My neighbor's plant is popping up in my yard.

Answer: Bamboo is basically a giant grass, so you can visualize how it spreads through roots and rhizomes. Not all bamboos are invasive, but the running types of bamboo have root masses that travel 3'-4' deep, and spread 15'-20'. You can starve the roots by keeping the tops continually cut down. If you're persistent the plants will eventually run out of energy to produce new canes because ther's no above-ground photosynthesis taking place. Digging the roots is the only sure-fire way of eradicating bamboo. You might be able to speed the process by covering the soil with black plastic after cutting down the tops of the plants. If the area gets a lot of direct sunshine, the ground will heat up, basically killing the roots. Leave the plastic on for 4 to 6 weeks in the midst of summer heatsun. Chemical herbicides are least effective; they may kill the tops of the plants but the roots are hardy and will send out new shoots. A root barrier along your property line might be an option, but since bamboo roots go so deep, this can be problematic and expensive. It's a difficult situation to say the least. You might talk to your neighbor about removing the bamboo together, or check with your local zoning officials to see if there are any other approaches you can try. Good luck!

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