getting rid of bamboo

controlling bamboo can be tough. killing bamboo even tougher

how do I get rid of a bamboo grove from my garden?

unfortunately, this is one of the most frequently asked questions. this is due to planting invasive running bamboo in an inappropriate setting with no rhizome barrier. eradicating one of these groves is very difficult. the key to success is knowing that a grove is a single organism. it is all connected underground by a network of rhizomes. the culms (canes) are just the visible part. chopping a section of it down will not stop the spread. It still has the whole of the rest of the grove to feed its spread next shooting season. so it will come back. the only way is to sever the rhizomes in the area you want to clear from the rest of the grove and deal with that isolated piece. or deal with the whole grove, which is fine if it is all on your property, but groves usually straddle different properties.

there are four main methods

dig it up

This is undoubtedly the quickest method, but, as anyone who has tried to dig up even a small section of a single rhizome will tell you, bloody difficult. The easiest (and most expensive) way is to use a small bulldozer, bobcat excavator etc. This is only possible if there is access to the grove. Cut down all the culms (use them to make furniture!) and then dig down to the depth of the rhizomes. These will normally be found in the top 25cm of soil, sometimes shallower, rarely deeper. Remove every last piece if rhizome, but don't worry about the roots as they can't propagate. If you can't use an excavator use anything you find works - spades, crowbars, machetes, levers, chainsaws with an old chain, grappling hooks and a ute, whatever! Do not use a rotovator as it will only cut up the rhizomes into small pieces and leave them in the ground, each piece being a potential new grove!!

cut and cut again

Cut down the grove. Water and fertilize, then cut down the new growth again. It may shoot again immediately if you do this in Spring, if not it will shoot the following Spring. In either case the idea is to exhaust the rhizomes, by forcing them to use all their energy on the new shoots and not allowing any photosynthesis to occur to restock them. Eventually the grove will die, but it might take two or three seasons.


The next method uses Roundup and I don't like it and won't use it but I include it here for the sake of completeness. Apparently when a culm is cut, the sap flowing through it is drawn down into the rhizomes, so painting the stump with neat Roundup is supposed to kill it. I doubt the effectiveness of this method, but i have seen it repeated in a couple of places. Once again the rhizomes will probably send up new shoots the following spring, so this must be repeated. Spraying the culm and/or leaves is useless as it will not get down into the rhizomes. And you'll have to chop it all down and remove it anyway, so you may as well just skip the poison bit of it.


Send in the pigs!! This is my favorite method. Pigs will do a good job of eating anything, and this applies to rhizomes buried in the soil, once they've eaten everything else. They'll root around, till up the soil and fertilize it, all in one go. Admittedly, this is not a very practical method in a suburban environment.

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