Methods For Removing Unwanted Bamboo

Bamboo is one of those plants we love to hate. It is beautiful, even striking, with its lush foliage and its vertical shoots. Bamboo adds energy and a design flair that few plants can offer. Of course, if you have bamboo in your garden, you already know the downside. It can spread like crazy and removing it is one tough task.

Running Bamboo vs. Clumping Bamboo

Bamboo plants are generally categorized into two groups; running and clumping. It is the running varieties that are the most aggressive but even clumping varieties can spread some. Both have dense, tough root systems.



Phyllostachys nigra

Fargesia ‘Rufa’

Phyllostachys bambusoides ‘Allgold’

Fargesia nitida


Fargesia robusta


 Fargesia ‘Rufa’ Green Panda™




Ways To Remove Bamboo


Method A – Excavation

If you want to immediately remove bamboo, this is the method to choose, although it is very physical. First, cut all of the culms (bamboo branches are called culms) as close to the ground as possible. This is best accomplished with a heavy pair of lopping pruners or a pruning saw. For very culms, a chain saw may even be required. Next, dig out the root system, following the rhyzomes (root) as far and deep as possible. The best tools for this are a sharp spade, pick axe, or even a regular axe. It is important to not leave an pieces or rhizome behind as they could re-sprout.

Method B – Cut And Sever

This method is a little more long term but certainly easier on the back. As in Method A, cut all of the culms to the ground. Monitor the are from time to time to see if any sprouts pop up (they will). When they do, cut these to the ground as well. The theory here is that by continually removing the sprouts, the plant cannot generate energy through photosynthesis, it will eventually simply putter out. It could, however, take years.

Controlling The Spread Of Bamboo

If you should decide to keep your bamboo but still want to control where it grows and where it doesn’t, consider installing a bamboo barrier. A bamboo barrier is a thick plastic membrane (although concrete has also been used). To effectively control bamboo growth, first dig a 30” deep trench. Next, install the barrier vertically in the ground and backfill the soil around the barrier. It is important to leave an inch or two of the barrier above the ground as bamboo roots have been known to actually grow over the barrier (es, it is that aggressive).



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