Certain species of bamboo can create a nuisance to your property or garden. They can take over your entire landscape. Killing bamboo can be quite difficult due to its underground rhizomes, but it is the best option to prevent the worst from happening.
There are several techniques you can use to get rid of bamboo permanently. This will take your time and effort, but it’s surely worth the try. Here are 5 ways to kill bamboo permanently – the short version:
- Mowing and digging up the root system (preferred but exhausting)
- Using heat by burning or boiling bamboo (may not be environmentally friendly)
- Applying diesel or gasoline (not eco-friendly)
- Applying vinegar (organic method)
- Using herbicides (chemical method)
We explain each one of these removal methods in detail. Sometimes you may have to use a combination of procedures. If you have a problem with bamboo spread, you’re likely dealing with running bamboo which is an invasive plant. Running bamboos grow underground stems, called rhizomes. The rhizome system is the reason why new culms can show up several feet away from the rest of the grove or plant.
If you have done your due diligence and installed a physical barrier, you’ll need to check it regularly. Once you find new bamboo shoots outside this barrier, you’re already behind and it’ll take hard work to get it back in check. So, do you want to get over your bamboo problem? Then keep reading and learn how to kill bamboo!
5 ways to kill bamboo permanently
There are several methods you can use to get rid of bamboo. These include physical, organic, or chemical procedures. Which approach you’ll end up using, depends on the season you want to remove these plants in.
The chemical methods should not be your first step when brainstorming about ways to kill bamboo plants. Before engaging in any of these strategies, you must decide if you want to get rid of all of the plants or if you want to keep a bamboo patch.
If you don’t intend to get rid of all the plants in your yard, you should use the isolation method. This involves separating the bamboo plants you wish to preserve while you remove the rest. In this case, I would advise adding bamboo barriers and other controlling mechanisms so that it is easier to maintain.
Physical methods to remove bamboo plants
No matter what strategy you choose to kill bamboo plants, physical practices come first. I can remember the day when my dad got a piece of land full of bamboo plants and we went to check on it. It was evergreen but was occupying too much space.
When it was time to use the land, we called a few people who could help us remove them. They brought tools like shovels, lawnmowers, and diggers. There are two procedures that can go hand in hand. We’ll discuss both of them here.
Digging up the roots
You need to dig into the soil and pull out the clumps or network of rhizomes of the bamboo plant. I would assume you have issues with running bamboo as this tends to spread invasively. If you want to learn more about the types of bamboos and their root systems, read this article!
Digging can be very effective if you want to remove the entire plant. For larger plants, you may need to get a backhoe.
These steps will help you digging up the plants to effectively remove the bamboo permanently:
- Water the area where your bamboo grows. This will make the soil moist and the digging process will be easier.
- Locate a bamboo culm and dig around it using a shovel. You may have to dig as deep as 1 ft (30 cm) to find the clump or rhizomes.
- Remove as much of it as you can.
- If you miss a clump or rhizome, the bamboo plant will eventually grow back. So, you will have to repeat this process until there is nothing left of it.
You may combine this bamboo removal method with the next one. You may also use a saw to cut down larger culms before attempting to dig up the roots.
Mowing down shoots and younger plants
Regular mowing can also help to eliminate bamboo. This method requires a lot of energy and time, but you’ll get the expected result if you follow the procedures well.
For best results, you can mow down the shoots and younger plants. Then dig up the roots or use another procedure from below.
Don’t attempt to mow large stems or tall bamboo (such as Timber Bamboo or Moso)!
Here is what you do:
- Cut the bamboo shoots as close to the ground as possible. A saw will be very helpful for this.
- Mow the affected area completely using the lowest deck setting of a lawnmower.
- Nicely water the area after mowing the landscape.
- You’ll notice new growth after a few days. Once you notice this new growth, mow over the landscape again.
- Repeat this until the growth reduces.
Ultimately, this is a step you can take to assist you in your removal process. It is not a way to completely remove or tame your bamboo problem. However, it will reduce the growth, which makes digging easier.
How to kill bamboo with heat or thermal method
Heat is a potent tool in killing stubborn plants like bamboo. It’s mostly done after felling, digging, and exposure of the rhizomes and roots. There are two major ways of applying heat to a bamboo plant.
Burning the bamboo clumps
You can get rid of bamboo by burning them to death. Although this may not be an eco-friendly option, it helps with killing the bamboo plant.
If you’ve got a large acreage of bamboo, it would be wise to consult the State Government Forestry / Natural Resource Management Departments in your area before carrying out this activity.
How to burn bamboo for killing it permanently:
- If you are going to do this in a garden, you may want to isolate other crops first.
- Cut down the bamboo culms to a few inches above the ground.
- Spread ammonium nitrate fertilizer generously over the area where the bamboo is growing.
- Cover the area with a transparent plastic film. You can use rocks to hold down the edges.
- The combination of the fertilizer, lack of oxygen, and the heat of the sun will eventually kill the bamboo.
- You need to dig up the dead bamboo clumps after a few weeks. Ensure you take out all the rhizomes to prevent more from sprouting.
Note: The best time for this method is during the hottest times of the summer. If it’s dry season, plan to monitor the procedure closely.
Bear in mind that burning bamboo has its disadvantages. If you intend to plant new crops on the same land, it may not be the best choice because it reduces the fertility of the soil.
Applying hot water
This is an easy way to wipe out bamboo. It is more natural and environmentally friendly than using herbicides.
- First, you want to dig around the bamboo and expose the roots.
- Then, pour the boiling water directly onto the root system and kill the plant.
- This procedure must be repeated when new growth appears. You can also dig up the rest of the plant including the dead roots. This way you can be sure that the bamboo is dead.
Killing bamboo with diesel or gasoline
Although this practice can be harmful to the environment, there have been testimonies about the effectiveness of it removing bamboo permanently.
One of my neighbors shared with me how he had killed the clumps of bamboo plants in his backyard within a couple of months.
- Diesel weakens bamboo roots when it is applied to the exposed roots. All you need is one gallon of diesel. Sprinkle it on the exposed clumps or rhizomes and leave it for a couple of days.
- Gasoline is also recommended for killing bamboo plants permanently because of its corrosive nature. Use this the same way you would use diesel.
Another way to stop bamboo is through an organic product: vinegar. Vinegar is highly acidic and will hinder the fresh growth of bamboo plants.
How to kill bamboo with vinegar:
- Take time to moisten the soil before digging around the clump of bamboo or bamboo culm. Expose as much of the root system as you possibly can.
- Pour the undiluted vinegar on the roots, ensuring they are soaked. You can also use a sprayer to apply it.
- This approach attacks all those roots that you could not remove. Each time you observe that the shoot is coming out again, repeat the process until you get rid of it permanently.
Chemical method to kill bamboo for good
This bamboo removal practice involves using harsh chemicals and products like herbicides. There are several types of herbicides you can use to get rid of invasive plants like bamboo. Although it’s harsh, it doesn’t give a 100% guarantee of killing the plant at once.
The harshness of the chemicals involved and the effect it has on the land makes it the last option for many gardeners. Chemicals reduce the fertility of the soil.
As a result of this, gardeners reduce its usage and choose physical methods instead.
The best way to apply the chemicals is on the bamboo rhizomes. Most times it is applied after the bamboo plant has been cut down and you have removed the roots as much as possible.
The herbicides are then sprayed on the left-over roots. When you observe that the plant sends out new shoots after the initial treatment, repeat the method.
You will keep repeating this process until you get rid of the plants permanently.
These steps will help you effectively remove bamboo using chemicals:
- You can either use a spreader or a garden sprayer, containing glyphosate or imazapyr to apply your herbicides on the exposed roots and stumps.
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them properly to avoid any issues.
- If it’s on farmland or in the backyard where you planted other crops, make sure you keep them safe from the herbicides or they will dry up as well.
When is the best time to kill bamboo plants?
You must consider the best season for the method you intend to use. The only one that is suitable for all seasons is the physical method.
The thermal or heat method may not be suitable for a dry season. You need to exercise caution to prevent the outbreak of fire in your garden or property.
The rainy season is not a good season to apply most of these strategies, especially when chemicals are in use. It may hinder them from penetrating or cut short the thermal process.
Rain can wash out the chemicals, stopping the process. This may result in wasting resources and time. Rain can cause the rapid growth of the shoots and you have to go over the process again soon.
Can I kill bamboo with bleach?
There is not much research that proves that you can eradicate bamboo with bleach, though some gardeners use bleach (sodium hypochlorite) as a general weedkiller.
You can try it out and see how it turns out. Remember to cut the bamboo culms to the ground before applying the bleach over the roots (just as you would with a regular herbicide or vinegar).
Can I kill bamboo with overwatering?
It depends, actually! If you have bamboo in a container or pot, you can kill it with overwatering.
This method will not work for bamboo planted outdoors. You would have to drench the roots of the bamboo and keep them underwater for at least a couple of weeks.
What is the best herbicide to kill bamboo?
A regular herbicide with the active ingredient glyphosate is the best option for homeowners.
Glyphosate has very minor residual soil activity. It will only kill plants that receive direct contact. For the best results, the bamboo must be mowed and allowed to regrow until the new leaves expand. Then you can apply glyphosate to the leaves.
Glyphosate will not kill bamboo instantly. It can take up to two or three years.
How do you dispose of cut bamboo?
The best way to dispose of cut bamboo is to burn them, but it all depends on your regional laws. You can also consider putting them in the trash.
Most times, leaving bamboo on your landscape after cutting them may lead to regrowth.
If you choose to burn the plants, make sure you split the culms so you don’t get hurt.
Can I hire experts to kill bamboo?
Yes! If you don’t have the time to spare for these procedures, you can have experts do it for you. There are several companies with trained experts that specialize in removing invasive plants like bamboo.
Professionals use several methods, from chemical treatments to physical removal. Some others also provide every item needed for the activity. They will use the method best suited for your individual situation.
You may have to do a little search for a local company that can help you kill your bamboo permanently. You can then get an estimate from them and discuss the terms of service.
Eliminating a bamboo plant permanently will take a good amount of time and effort. Don’t expect instant magic. The methods mentioned in this article will hopefully save you a lot of stress and confusion.