How To Kill Bamboo

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This article provides tips and instructions for killing unwanted bamboo plants
by Brent Wilson · All Zones · Weeds and Invasive Plants · 0 Comments · April 28, 2012 · 24,472 views

Bamboo is one of the most difficult plants to eradicate. There are two basic types of bamboo: running bamboo and clumping bamboo. Running bamboo typically spreads more rapidly from underground rhizomes (spreading roots) while clumping bamboo spreads more slowly and forms the "clump."

Many gardeners plant bamboo without knowing how invasive it can be, and how quickly it can spread. Often times, the bamboo spreads so quickly in the landscape or garden that before you know it you've got a grove going on that continues to spread. That's when many gardeners start to regret ever having planted it. If you've just got to have some bamboo in your garden, make sure to take steps to contain its spread. Plant it in a large solid container that can be buried in the ground or dig a 30 inch deep trench around the area you want to grow it and fill this trench with solid concrete.

How To Kill Bamboo

With Herbicide

For most people, the first and easiest method used to attempt to kill bamboo involves the use of an herbicide (weed killer). This method works best on clumping bamboo or if you have a small area or just a few shoots of running bamboo. It involves pruning the bamboo shoots down to 6 inches above the ground and, then, within 15 SECONDS of making your cut, quickly paint on an undiluted herbicide containing at least 41% glyophosate, such as super-concentrate Killzall or Glyphosel.

If you have running bamboo covering a large area it may be necessary to dig it out to a depth of 18 inches or so with a larger piece of equipment such as a backhoe. Then, to contain any remaining rhizomes (roots) that were missed, you'll have to dig a 30 inch deep ditch around the entire bamboo grove area. This ditch will need to be filled with concrete or a steel or heavy plastic barrier to contain any leftover rhizomes and keep them from spreading. This is a major undertaking and can be quite expensive. If your bamboo is growing among desirable plants or trees digging it out this way could damage the roots and possibly kill them.

Burning To Death!

Another way to eliminate bamboo shoots is to burn them to death. But this method will also kill other plants sharing the area with the bamboo. To do this method, during the hottest part of summer cut down the bamboo shoots to a few inches above the ground. Then spread generous amounts of ammonium nitrate fertilizer over the entire area where the bamboo is growing. You want the fertilizer to just about cover the ground. Then cover the entire area with transparent plastic film, using rocks or something heavy around the edges and towards the interior to hold the film down. After a few days, the bamboo shoots will be cooked from too much heat, the high-power nitrogen fertilizer, and a lack of oxygen. After a few weeks, when it appears all the bamboo shoots are dead, you can remove the plastic film. It would still be a good idea to dig up the dead bamboo shoots just in case there are some remaining live rhizomes that could shoot up new growth. Or, if shoots pop up cut and paint them with the glyphosate herbicide as mentioned above.


If your neighbor has bamboo that is spreading to your property you can dig a 30 inch deep ditch and insert a 30 inch tall metal or hard plastic sheeting as a barrier to prevent further spreading.

What I Would Do

If it were me, I'd try the herbicide method first. You might have a year long or more battle on your hands but, if you stay persistent, you can win. Then, if the herbicide method was unsuccessful, I'd try the cooking method. But, remember, the cooking method will kill desirable plants as well. As a last resort, I'd hire a contractor who specializes in and guarantees eradication of invasive plants.

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Brent Wilson

Meet The Author

Brent Wilson - Brent Wilson is an avid gardener and one of the co-founders of Gardenality. He is co-owner of Wilson Bros Nursery & Garden Center in McDonough Georgia

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