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Kill Bamboo


									                               Bamboo, Tough to Eradicate

         Bamboo is spreading into my yard from a neighbor’s property. What can I do to
kill the bamboo in my yard, and how can I keep it from growing back again?
         Bamboo spreads by underground stems called rhizomes. Clumping bamboos have
short rhizomes and spread slowly, but running bamboos produce very long rhizomes
which give rise to leaf stalks called culms far from the main clump. To prevent a running
bamboo from spreading, a “rhizome barrier” is essential. A barrier two to three feet deep
is effective. It should be slanted at a 45 degree angle outward at the top so that when the
rhizomes hit the barrier they will bend upwards. A barrier does not stop a running
rhizome, it only deflects it. The barrier should project an inch or two above ground level.
Check the barrier once a year, and cut off rhizomes that arch over the top.
         Barriers can be concrete, metal or plastic. The usual recommendation is high-
density polypropylene, 40mil or heavier, glued or taped at junctions, or clamped with
stainless-steel clamps. This material comes in rolls, or as hinged sections and is available
from some landscape suppliers or bamboo nurseries, frequently termed “root barrier.”
More elaborate barriers with corner posts that hold material at the proper angle are also
         To remove the bamboo that has grown into your yard, first cut the underground
rhizomes where they enter from an adjacent property. They usually grow in the top foot
of soil and can be cut with a spade, mattock or saw. If only a few rhizomes and culms are
present they can be dug up and removed. A large mass of bamboo can be killed by
cutting off all of the culms at ground level and continually removing new culms as they
appear. Preventing any foliage growth will deplete the plant’s stored food and eventually
kill the clump, although the clump may take a year or more to die. The herbicide
glyphosate (Round-up) can also be used to kill bamboo. A concentrated solution can be
painted on the end of culms immediately after they are cut, or foliage can be sprayed with
a dilute solution if nearby plants will not be damaged the spray drift. Glyphosate is
absorbed by plant tissue and transported within the plant. The herbicide inhibits new
growth, but more than one treatment may be required to kill well established clumps of
         With bamboo being so popular these days, you may want to advertise that you
have some bamboo and allow others to do the work for you as it relates to removal.
Remember to treat the stumps with glyphosate quickly after they take the bamboo out,
and eventually the problem will be alienated. Good Luck!

David H. Hubbard
Regional Extension Agent
Alabama Cooperative Extension System

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