Running bamboo grows from rhizomes that create an intricate underground system. It is common for this network of rhizomes and culms (shoots or stems) to become invasive, taking over more and more territory as more runners form. Stopping the bamboo in its tracks involves a combination of cutting back and encouraging new growth. Although this may sound counterproductive, the constant cutting of new shoots will exhaust the bamboo plant's energy. Once reduced to this level, new growth eventually will come to a standstill and the bamboo plant will die off. Although clumping bamboo isn't invasive, it requires digging and cutting to remove it.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Cutting utensils -- handsaw, pruning shears
- Garden hose
Cut the bamboo culms down to the soil line. Choose a cutting utensil depending on the diameter of the culms. Thick culms may require a handsaw, while thinner culms may only need pruning shears.
Saturate the soil with a garden hose to encourage the growth of new shoots.
Wait for new bamboo shoots to peek through the soil. Cut them down as soon as you see them, trimming them even with the soil line.
Repeat the process of watering to encourage new growth and cutting down the shoots as soon as you see them. Culms cut to the soil line will eventually rot, making it easy to dig them out of the ground once the bamboo has died off.
Cut the bamboo culms to the soil line, using a saw or pair of pruning shears.
Press a garden spade into the soil as deep as possible. Dig around the entire circumference of the clumping bamboo plants. Lift out as much of the clumping bamboo and attached rhizomes (roots) as possible.
Chop up stubborn rhizomes with an axe or the tip of the spade. Continue chopping and lifting out the rhizomes until none remain.
Tips and warnings
- Digging out running bamboo with a garden spade is another way to get rid of it, but the process can be exhausting. Digging is more successful when only small, young clumps are present. The digging process involves digging up as much of the bamboo plant and rhizome as possible. Since rhizomes are usually left behind by mistake, cutting is ultimately required anyway.
- Bamboo doesn't give up easily. Even when you think you have got rid of it all, an old runner may send up a new shoot. Therefore, it is important that you monitor the area frequently, cutting new shoots to the soil line each time you see them.
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