You know that old adage, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”
Well it happened. Maybe about a year ago in another home I was looking out the window and straight into my neighbor’s yard with their yapping dogs and thought, “Bamboo would make a great, natural barrier.”
And then I came to my new home and there is bamboo literally sprouting everywhere!
I’m not looking to kill them all. I might even be crazy enough to transplant some to a specific area but, when random shoots are just popping out of the ground like a damn zombie apocalypse, it’s time to get aggressive.
I’ve scoured the internet looking for easy cures to treating the bamboo occupation in my yard. But first, let’s find out a little bit about our enemy.
What is Bamboo?
According to the Clemson Cooperative Extension, bamboo is a perennial grass that has a woody stem, branched growth, and can be as tall as 70 feet. Non-native species have been introduced to locations around the world through household decoration and gardening.
Because they are hearty, grow quickly and spread easily, bamboo will take over an area effectively choking off its competition. This can throw the local ecosystem out of balance.
There are 90+ genera and over 1400 species of bamboo. But for the layman, let’s simplify and say there are generally two types of bamboo: clumping and running. Clumping bamboo tend to have a large root system, grow in tighter groups and spread a little slower. If you can find the main root then digging around it for removal is fairly easy.
Sadly, I have the more aggressive running bamboo in my yard. Because the house has been sitting virtually unoccupied for a year, it had the opportunity to establish itself and mark its territory. The rhizomes (underground stems) have spread far and wide. Before I knew what was happening, I felt like I was playing Whack-A-Mole with my yard. Just as one was cut down, another one popped up.
How Do I Treat Bamboo & Prevent It From Spreading?
You need: Patience, Consistency, Determination, and Time.
Here’s what to do:
Step 1. Saw or cut at the culm (that’s the hollow part of the bamboo just above the rhizome) as close to the ground as you can get. This allows you to really see your working area.
Step 2. Hack away at the rhizomes and dig them up. Rhizomes are the fat, juicy, bulbous part of the bamboo. They are generally at the soil surface or just underneath it. It is also the source of nutrition for the bamboo.
Because this is a fast growing grass, you can water the area and wait for new growth. Then go out and pick, stomp or cut any new shoots.
These plants tend to choose the path of least resistance so left alone they are going to stretch their boundaries and pop up in random places. If you keep finding rhizomes and new shoots, cutting or pulling them actually exhausts their resources and it will eventually give up and die.
Steps 3 – 6. Water the area. Watch for new growth. Cut it down. Repeat as necessary.
It may take several seasons to take control of your yard but it is possible!
Once you’ve cut back the nuisance, keep mowing over the area as you tend to your lawn. If you are really just stepping into the fight, consider renting a tiller to aggressively cut into the earth and hack at those rhizomes and roots.
SAVE YOUR MONEY
The business of making money for their stock holders is what Big Business is about, so of course they’re going to pander their wares for a quick and easy fix.
In my article Keeping Busy by Killing Stuff, I explain what glyphosate is.
Don’t waste your money on this product! (Read this: RoundUp® = Monsanto)
First of all, bamboo is practically impervious to chemical treatment.
Secondly, glyphosate may kill your surrounding plants AND your soil for future growth.
If you aren’t going to kill the rhizomes with a little sweat equity then covering them with a tarp won’t work either. It would be like putting a baby blanket on an elephant. The roots will travel and laugh at your tarp as they spring up again and again.
Weed barriers don’t work either. Weathering and the persistent roots will break through any plastic, paper, or fabric barrier.
Tools that Work:
Let’s stay budget-friendly. Most of these are probably in your shed or garage so it doesn’t cost anything extra to use them.
- Hand Saw
- Pruning Shears for thin shoots
Getting at the root stock:
- Shovel or Hoe
- Small Axe
- Lawn Mower
Remember: There is no easy way out of a bamboo invasion. They take the path of least resistance before giving up to die. That’s why the only way you’re going to eradicate the bamboo problem is through patience, consistency, determination, and time.
Have you fought the bamboo battle? What’s your story?