The Q&A Archives: Bamboo

Question: Previous owners planted ornamental bamboo and it has spread to unwanted areas. I have pulled up young plants and cut others. Landlord won't let me get rid of all of it, how do I get rid of it or kill it permantly?

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 there'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 heat/sun. Chemical herbicides are least effective; they may kill the tops of the plants but the roots are hardy and will send out new shoots. Good luck with your project!

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