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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bamboo removal made easy

Since bamboos are one of the plants I collect, I did have collected many types and I have also gotten rid of many types of bamboo as well. There are basically 2 ways to get rid of bamboo. 1)Cut all the culms down to the ground with a lopper or chainsaw and keep repeating until the grove runs out of energy or shoot buds. 2) Dig it all out, and check for missed pieces.

The reason why I am writing this blog is because sometimes people have problems with certain types of bamboos. Some species of bamboo can become invasive if they are grown in the right climate/ conditions or if the owner of the property doesn't understand or care about it. A lot of people don't know how to properly control, or get rid of bamboo which can cause problems for neighbors. If you have an understanding of how bamboos grow, it can actually be very easy to get rid of.

Method 1:
This method only requires a lopper and maybe a lawnmower if feasible. Most loppers cut up to 2 inches in diameter, but if the culms are bigger, an electric chainsaw will be sufficient. This method is preferable if the bamboo you want to remove covers a lot of ground ie several acres. 

1. First It is best to wait until spring when new shoots start rising and get to 2-6 feet tall. This means that many buds have activated, and the bamboo is expending its energy. 

2. When the new shoots are several feet tall, it is now time to cut down all over the existing culms to soil level in order to remove all of the plant's source of photosynthesis, but the new shoots should be left alone to continue draining the energy from the grove. 

3. Once the new shoots reach their full height and they are branched out, but before they start leafing out, it is time to cut all these new shoots down to soil level when the energy of the grove is almost completely depleted. 

4. With the remaining energy left in the grove, the bamboo may still have the ability to generate very small survival culms. The best thing is to wait for them to finish their growth and repeat the process over by cutting them to soil level right before leaves are about to form. Regrowth can happen 3-4 times, but the size and number of them should decrease each time as the number of viable shoot buds are reduced, and the energy dwindles. If it is an open area, planting grass seeds, and keeping the area mowed will be sufficient.

 The idea is to starve the bamboo of all its starches stored in the rhizome system and herbicides are generally ineffective.There is no need to remove the rhizomes as they will die and rot away without a source of energy for several months, and there is no need to pay thousands of dollars to remove bamboo with heavy machinery when you can do it by yourself with simple tools such as loppers and chainsaws.


Method 2:
This method is only feasible when there's is not that much bamboo, and it can all be dug up in a few hours, and the benefit is that the bamboo can be removed all on the same day as long as every rhizome is taken out.

1. The first step is to wait until after a nice rain when the soil is easy to dig through.

2. Cut all the culms down to soil level so they are out of the way.

3. Dig out every piece of rhizome starting from the perimeter inwards. Most bamboos only grow near the top of the soil. This can be done with a sharp shovel, a pick and loppers. The inside of the grove is harder to dig out as some species can form a solid root mass if culms were growing very closely.

4. Wait about a month and check to see if there are any sprouts. It's very possible to miss a few pieces which can easily be detected when they start shooting.

Here are a few pictures to show some results on some of the bamboos that I have removed.
Phyllostachys Aureosulcata (yellow groove)

Before:



After:

I missed 2 rhizomes in using method 2 so there's some re-sprouting, but it's not that hard to find where the rhizomes are now.

Phyllostachys bissetii

Before:

After:

Since I didn't dig every square foot of this area, I am bound to miss some of them, and there are 2 shoots resprouting on this one.

The rhizomes and root mass can be used as mulch for another bamboo or simply be thrown on top of the soil. If a neighbor wants some, they would have to get it back in the soil very soon since bamboo rhizome are no longer viable after their roots dry out which can happen in a few hours.







Here's the view from a distance.

If the culms are large enough, they can be dried in the sun, and used as garden stakes and crafts.




20 July 2013

I just removed another bamboo (phyllostachys aureosulcata spectabilis) which took about 5 minutes to get out and another 10 minutes to get it moved. I simply used a (steel broadfork) as well as a pair of loppers, and the entire grove was taken out with ease.

There is also a wagon, or tow cart that I used to move it out as the entire thing weighed over 200 pounds. This was done purposely after a rain storm so the soil would be very loose and workable.

Here are some pictures to show the entire process. It would simply take longer with a bigger bamboo, but in any case, the steel broad fork is a very powerful tool.

Here's what I dug out.








99 comments:

  1. Very informative! Thank you for your help on the GardenWeb forum as well!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks. I think it's important for people to understand the energy cycle of rhizomes, and how to contain or eradicate bamboo so it doesn't become a problem for anyone.

      Delete
  2. Just to update on these bamboos, it looks like they are on their 3rd & last burst of energy as the current rain storm is causing only a few tiny(under 1/8 inch) shoots to come out which I'll be able to pull out by hand once they finish growing, and I believe the rhizomes should rot.

    If it was rhizomes in a lawn, that means it that the rhizomes can only stay alive for 1-2 months without any culms given that the lawn is mowed every couple weeks.

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  3. Please Help my neighbour has bamboo and it is spreading rapidly through all my plants will i have to take out all my plants to get rid of the bamboo it is also shooting uo all over my lawn

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    1. Does he know about it? It should be his responsibility to contain it.

      You don't necessarily have to dig out your plants to get rid of it. Just cut a trench right on the property line severing off any energy source that those rhizomes on your property may have. A pitch with a lopper would work as well as a sharp shovel. I prefer using a steel broad fork.

      I would suggest keeping your yard moist so any energy within those rhizome is easily released and so it become easier for the rhizome to rot away. Just make sure the survival shoots don't leaf out. You should definitely get your neighbor to install a rhizome barrier because they should take responsibility for their own plants. Even if they are unwilling to contain their bamboo, they can at least pay for you to do it, but as long as you keep a trench between their screen, and your yard, you should be able to keep their rhizomes from crossing.

      Good luck.

      Delete
  4. Thanks for the reply. The bamboo has spread among my existing plants, if i make a trench between the fence will all the new shoots die? They seem to be popping up everywhere even half way across my lawn. If I keep chopping it down will it eventually die. My neighbour has not been interested im at my wits end. Thanks again

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    1. No problem. The rhizomes in the beds may make survival shoots for a while, but if you keep the area moist, and cut those shoots down right before they leaf out, they will get smaller and smaller. Once the rhizomes don't have enough energy to take in water, the rhizomes will rot, and shoots will stop coming up.

      In you case, it looks like you may need to keep a trench or put down a bamboo barrier to deflect any rhizomes that try to come across upwards, but that should be done on their side of the fence, out of their own pocket. If it's a major problem, and those neighbors aren't willing to take care of their own mess, I would call an attorney about it because it shouldn't be your problem. That's just being discourteous of a neighbor.

      Anyways, the best option would probably be to get the trench made, and left open so any rhizomes that try to cross can be easily spotted and cut with a lopper, or put in a bamboo barrier. I still think that it would make sense for them to be doing all of this, or at least forced to pay for someone to do it for them.



      Do you know what species it happens to be? If it is any of the ones in this blog post, they do take a while to run out of energy as screening bamboos are typically the type that cause people problems. I simply stopped growing screening bamboos altogether because the run too fast, and grow all over the place. I prefer growing the ones that can get huge, but tend to stay in a clump.

      Delete
  5. Why is it that the bamboo from irresponsible neighbors never seem to spread into their own yards but always get into other people's yard?!

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    1. One possibility is that they do have it spreading into their own yard, but just keep their lawn mowed. Another possibility is that they just rhizome prune on their side of the fence while letting the bamboo do whatever it wants on the neighbor's side. If that was my neighbor, I would make him or her pay for containing their own bamboos, or let them know their other option of facing a lawsuit and making them pay for the damages that their bamboo does to my yard.

      In any case, I will make it clear to them that it is a problem that they need to take care of. These people probably look for the fastest growing most invasive kinds of bamboos they can find too so they can get an immediate privacy screen eh?

      You could also probably grow some sort of an ivy, potato vine, or any climbing plant for some horticultural warfare that they started.

      Just kidding, but it is important to let them know that it's a serious issue.

      Delete
    2. I love bamboo, and grow various type. I am a real estate broker. I just take the neighbor to small claims court, asking for $5,000. to contract someone to put a 3 foot deep barrier in, not just on the side where the bamboo is coming from, but also wrapping it around an additional 50 feet on both ends of the property lines. I do this before I am able to list the property. One can also claim damage for the lost time not being able to list the property. Also an insurance policy can be purchased for the new buyer for the work that was done.

      Delete
    3. That should work especially if you provide solid evidence that rhizomes are coming well onto the property and they are not doing anything to control their bamboo.

      Unfortunately most people tend to grow the extremely invasive types that fill in an area quick and take a bit of work to eradicate because they are the most readily available.

      Delete
  6. Thanks so much for all the advice I'll keep you informed of progress I'll keep digging and chopping down.as for my neighbour I think they feel its me being miserable and have not spoken to me since I've mentioned the bamboo a shame as we've been neighbours for 27 years

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    1. Perhaps they simply don't know the problems it is causing, but being neighbors for 27 years, I would imagine that they would at least be willing to do their part to sever off some bamboos on their side, and at least create a trench, or help you do it.

      If you have some photos of it, I would be interested in seeing them. I don't mind people posting IMG links on my blog.

      Delete
  7. Still digging bloody bamboo thanks for all the advice have appreciated it will keep you posted thanks again.

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    1. Great. Once you get that trench severed so the rhizomes on your side are no longer attached to a source of energy, they may try to push some survival shoots, but they are set up to rot, as you only have so many viable shoot buds, but wet rhizomes without leaves for transpiration will rot pretty quickly if you keep cutting them down before they get a chance to leaf out.

      Also try to make sure no new rhizome cross the trench as they do do most of their growth in late summer/early fall.

      Delete
  8. Sorry one more question, have managed to cut the bamboo to ground level but new leaves are appearing do I just need to keep cutting it down. Also do i need to get all the roots out have managed to get a few out but they seem to go.on and on. Thanks again

    ReplyDelete
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    1. If you have survival shoots, you can leave them alone until they leaf out so they end up wasting more of their remaining starch reserves, then cut them off when they have a few leaves.

      After cutting down the survival growth for a few times, they will get localized into a few remaining spots as the energy of the rhizome system dwindles, and then it would make sense to dig those out for the finishing blow.

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  9. Sorry to say this but I have been in your position. Your irresponsible neighbors have ruined your property. You will be fighting this as long as you live there and it's going to get real old really fast. Get rid of your garden and make this lawn where you can mow down the shoots that will continue to sprout. And you will need to mow regularly and often.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. These are actually my own bamboos. I just didn't like those certain species in the ground because they spread too aggressively making it tougher to grow the garlic, but with the right tools, they are pretty easy to remove. If I let them stick around too long in the ground, it would then be a bit more work to use use the steel broadfork or slamming tool to get out the rhizomes which would impede the garlic from growing to full size.

      I find bamboos pretty easy to grow as long as you choose the right species which can be managed with ease and know about their growth habit.

      Delete
  10. I just bought a house, and the previous owner recently disposed of a very large clump of CUT OFF bamboo in the backyard. the bamboo came from a different property she owns, it does not grow in this backyard (yet!!??) I'm wondering if I need to be worried that this cut-off bamboo will propogate in my backyard. I've tried to find answers on google, but can't find out what people do with their cut-down bamboo. Is bamboo DEAD once it is cut off? or is there a chance new bamboo shoots could sprout up where the pile of bamboo debris is? susan from PA

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    1. If it is a true bamboo, and they didn't plant it into the ground, then it shouldn't grow especially if it is already looking dead. Bamboo roots and rhizomes above ground will dry out within about a week even if it is a very large clump.

      If it's Japanese knotweed, then yes, it will sink roots into the ground and self-propagate itself.

      If they put the clump of bamboos there, chances are, they intend to plant it right? I really don't see a reason for them to bring it in if they don't intend to grow it. If they are growing a screening type which happens to be the most common bamboo, you probably want to make sure they put up some barriers or have some form of rhizome control so it doesn't spread into your yard. Screening types typically have relatively skinny culms growing thickly and can spread over 10ft in a season with lots of fairly skinny rhizomes, but I need a photo to know for sure.

      Delete
    2. thanks for your response. not sure if it is true bamboo or Japanese knotweed.

      this is brush that was cut down from another property up the road. the owner threw the cuttings in my backyard (she used to own the house when she threw the cuttings here). she didn't plan to plant anything, she was just putting her yard waste in this backyard.

      Delete
  11. Hi steve. I have a running bamboo and im going with the dig it out approach right now. I have cut every stalk and am using a grub ax to help myself remove the rhizomes. My question is, will a small rhyzome fragment of and inch grow on its own? Im doing a good job picking all small fragments. Anything less than an inch is staying and i will employ the cut off method if they resprout. Do you think those real small fragments will be a problem for me? Thanks. Its good to know it is possible to be bamboo free! My father planted it as a fence but more of a leland cypress guy!

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    1. I don't think there's a need to even take out the rhizomes because cutting down all the culms will starve them out, but any fragments that are an inch long are very unlikely to sprout. They will rot when they run too low on energy.

      If you clear cut once now, let them all shoot, clear cut again, it should be enough to get pretty close to killing the bamboo entirely because you would easily be able to mow over it.

      Delete
  12. great thanks, Steve. The only issue hard the hard clumps above ground level that i'd like to cut into and thin out. Do you think an electric chain saw would be sufficient to cut into the clumps at soil level or a petrol one?

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    1. If you are having trouble with the tough root masses sticking out, then a strong reciprocating saw should be able to cut them into sections that can be removed piece by piece.

      The underground stuff can then be left to rot.

      I would suggest going with the petrol saw because electric saws generally have less power.

      Either the reciprocating saw or gas chain saw would be ideal in getting rid of the root masses.

      Delete
  13. Hi! I have a serious bamboo issue and I tried using an electric saw and the bamboo laughs at it. Loppers work for the smaller ones, but it won't touch the bigger stuff. Would a gas chainsaw work better? I'm trying to get handle on it and the electric chain saw isn't "cutting" it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Electric chainsaws are only designed to cut softwoods or prune fruit trees so they won't be able to cut through hard stuff. I have a $47 electric chainsaw myself which just doesn't have enough hp with its 14 inch blade.

      I would definitely go up with the $250 or so nicer gas chain saws which cut through almost anything. I would however suggest using safety glasses for cutting through a clump of bamboo to remove because you will cause a lot of dirt and pebbles to fly up into the air.


      It sounds like you have a pretty big bamboo. Is it just the yellow groove type?

      Delete
    2. It looks like Phyllostachys makinoi. It's very hardy, which has become very problematic. Thank you for the recommendation on the chainsaw.

      Delete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  15. Thank you for this descriptive information Steve. My wife and I just purchased a home in Pennsylvania in the middle of winter and now that it is spring we have discovered that the previous owner(s) had planted an area of bamboo (Phyllostachys bissetii going by your pictures) at one point around the back deck that seems to have rhizomes going almost 20ft to the other side of the deck that I discovered in some digging tonight! It's supposed to be pretty beautiful this weekend so based on your information it looks like we are in for a weekend of digging to try and get rid of it!

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    1. P Bissettii is definitely among the fastest spreaders. It will take a bit of pruning to keep that one in check. Some phyllostachys only spread a few feet per year, even in warmer climates.

      Delete
  16. Hi, i need some help.
    I dug out all of my bamboo divisions by working around it until the whole division was loose and simply pulled it out.

    I want to plant some other stuff in there but i am not sure if theres anything left from bamboo that can grow back.

    I am 100% sure that theres no rhizome left but some of the roots the little thin stuff is all over the place.

    i dug pretty much all of them out but some still there.

    its been around 6 weeks since i dug first division and about 2 weeks since i dug the last one, thankfully not a single shoot showed up.

    is it safe to assume that i can safely plant new stuff?

    i got a brick barrier between my lawn and boundry wall where bamboo was growing.

    bamboo it self pretty thin and did not spread anywhere apart from where it was planted.

    any help is appreciated

    thanks you.

    regards

    Ross.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. One thing to make sure is that you have rhizomes with viable buds, and also that the connection between the culms and rhizome are not injured which can happen pretty easily. It's also still pretty easy in the season so shooting may not happen until later in spring. The basic requirements for a good division is rhizome, buds, and root hairs.

      You may want to find out what species you have, and where you are planting it to consider if it is safe. You can get an ID most of the time at bambooweb forums.

      Delete
  17. Hi,your blog is really nice and provides a great info about Tree lopper toowoomba i want to continue with your blogs and thanks to share such a nice info with us.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hello Steve, I'm trying to remove some bamboo from my yard, and don't know what type it is. I can say, in certain parts where buds a sprouting, a leaf sprouts out when its only a two inches in height. Any idea which type this is, and the best way to remove. Also, there are several hard clumps throughout the yard. Thanks

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    1. If you have a type that sprouts leaves at only 2 inches in height, you likely have a ground cover species, likely in the sasa, or pseudosasa genus if it happens to be a true bamboo. This means a lawn mower may not be too effective so you may want to let them produce all their shoots, then dig out the parts with green with a sharp shovel, and loppers to cut the rhizomes.

      I've never planted or removed a ground cover type before, but, but underground, they are a mix between a regular sized bamboo, and lawn grass so you may be able to get under the entire mess while the soil is moist and rip it all out.

      If you don't want to deal with that and don't mind waiting 3-4 months, then you can also lay black plastic over the entire area, and allow the bamboo to cook for a few months while they are deprived of sunlight so they can rot away. This method works on killing grass as well.

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  19. Thanks for the advice. I hope finally I can get rid of these damn bamboos

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  20. Hi - My friend has bamboo in the backyard and I don't know what type. It takes up a corner of his small lot and I see roots in the ground, as well as new sprouts forming. The bamboo that's full is about 6 ft wide by 10 ft high. What do you suggest? (This was planted by a neighbor that no longer lives in the neighborhood...)

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    1. You can probably get an identification by posting some pictures on the bambooweb forums, and either myself or someone should be able to identify what type you have.

      Here's the forum. http://www.bambooweb.info/bb/

      Delete
    2. Thanks - I'll take a pic and post but have a feeling it's a pseudosasa.

      Delete
  21. I'm trying to get rid of a varigated bamboo ground cover. It's taking over the garden & too close to the lawn. I'm finding I have to saw chunks out. Would a roto tiller help to break things up?

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    1. Ground covers are a bit more resistant than regular bamboos, but it does have a weakness in that it can easily be mowed over with the lawn mower on the lowest setting, and if you do it a few times, that should start killing it off since it will be starving the plant of photosynthesis.

      One issue with roto-tilling is that the rhizomes may wrap around your machine like strings. It might just be easier to cut away the edges that are eating into the lawn and garden with a shovel or broad fork, and use a chain saw to cut it away.

      Mowing it all, and laying a dark plastic tarp should do the job too.

      Delete
  22. Hi Steve, thanks for the great information.

    My next door neighbors have bamboo growing in their yard right near our yard and you can actually see some of the roots just under the grass growing into our yard. The bamboo was planted by the neighbor before them and is probably 6 to 7 years old. According to your pictures I think it is the first type that you showed Phyllostachys Aureosulcata (yellow groove).

    When I spoke with the current neighbors they were concerned and seemed to know something of the invasiveness of bamboo. The husband has since used some kind of heavy machine to cut the entire bamboo plant down to the ground (but it doesn’t look like he dug down into the ground). Will this be sufficient to kill the roots that we see under the surface of the grass in our yard and prevent the spread of bamboo through our yard? Our neighbors are very nice and seem to want to take care of the problem.

    Your help is much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. As long as the neighbors keep the bamboos cut down to the ground as new survival shoots spread out, the underground rhizomes will not have the ability to grow at all because they need photosynthesis from leaves.

      Without any top growth for several months, any species of bamboo will end up rotting away. Some super rare ornamental bamboos would even be killed by one cut down, but if it is any of the ones I have showing in these pictures, they will regrow a few times, each time with smaller and weaker shoots until they run out of energy causing them to rot away under ground.

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    2. Terrific! That's a great relief to hear!

      Thanks so much Steve!

      Delete
  23. Back in January I cut our bamboos down to ground level then dug out the roots and pulled up runners thinking all had been removed so I carried on with doing up the garden putting down gravel slate and made flower borders only to discover just recently I am getting bamboo shoots popping up through the gravel I have pulled them up will they just rot if I keep pulling them up each time they appear ?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. There were likely long pieces of rhizomes that you missed completely, but if they are fragments, then clear cutting them each time they waste a lot of energy should cause the roots and rhizomes to rot in a couple months if you have true bamboo.


      A lot of people mistake Japanese knotweed for bamboo, and if that's what you had, it will take a couple years to eradicate it by pulling shoots.

      Delete
  24. OK, now that I have removed the bamboo, where can I dispose of it? The county will not allow it in the yard waste or refuse.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. If you have space, you could allow it to decompose in a compost pile after drying up. You may also be able to rent a chipper and turning it into mulch.

      So the dump truck simply won't pick the stuff up?

      Delete
  25. hope you can help me yet again. sent you a message a while bsck regarding my neighbours bamboo.I have now managed to remove a large chunk hoping that would be the end of it but it sprouting all over my lawn the roots seem to go on for miles will they eventually die hope you can help i'm at my wits end with it. thanks

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Have you ensured that there is a trench separating and severing all the rhizomes from your neighbor's mother grove? Unless they are completely separated, the shoots will continue to have a source of energy.

      It sounds like you have likely severed the rhizomes if there are shoots emerging in the middle of the summer which does not normally happen unless that rhizome section is not attached to any culms. It's best to just let theose shoots sprout to full height, and cut them down to ground level or just knock them down when you mow the lawn. Do you have any pictures? I may be able to tell a lot better seeing what you are dealing with.

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  26. Hi,

    I have a customer who wants me to remove their Bamboo, it is not a huge amount, but would be quicker with a stump grinder - as I have never come across this before, is there any danger Rhizome will be spread around and will reshoot, or should the grinder take care of any living matter, I will then dig around the outside area to remove any trailing roots. Do you think it would also be wise to remove the soil ground if I do decide to stump grind?

    Any help greatly appreciated


    Mark

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    1. If you are dealing with the giant tropical clumping type, I would imagine that a stump grinder would work great, but I doubt it would be effective against a running bamboo unless you tear up the entire area with rhizomes which can be very time consuming.

      If your grinder is able to tear the bamboo up into small pieces, it should not re-shoot unless there are larger rhizome sections that get missed because they absolutely need charged rhizome with shoot buds, and roots. If any of the 3 are missing, they cannot regenerate.

      It might be good to chain saw down the main clump, grind that area where there are a mass of roots and rhizomes, then use something like a shovel, steel broadfork, or any other suitable tool to get rid of the rhizomes that run through the lawn. It's not that difficult to do when the ground is wet. Even if re-shooting occurs, it should not be very strong at this time of the year since shooting season has occured not that long ago.

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  27. hi,I have bamboo called pleibtasus 'distichus' in our new garden please cpyld you advise me on the best way to remove it. It is not tall but is covering a lot of ground and plenty of runners al over the rest if the garden any advice would be greatly appreciated thanks

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    Replies
    1. That ground cover in particular will be tougher to remove than even most ground covers because it has tons of tiny rhizomes interwoven in a mat, however it's one weakness is that this type grows very close to the surface of the soil.

      Once you clear cut it with a lawn mower, you can use a shovel or broad fork to dig sections up, and use a reciprocating saw, or something with comparable power to cut up the rhizomes for removal. It should be fairly similar to lawn grass, just 3-4 times bigger. The one difference is that it is tougher to rip apart than grass.

      If you don't really mind waiting a few months, another option is to first clear cut to soil level, then lay black plastic over the soil for the rest of the summer to allow the ground to cook until your ground cover is dead. Adding plenty of water should help too. You can also spray glysophate over the entire area to make sure the rhizomes die off quickly since most of the plant material is close to the surface.

      Delete
  28. Anonymous,
    I planted some bamboo about 10 years ago, not realizing that it would spread like it has. About a year ago, I noticed that the shoots were getting bigger and were actually getting very close to the property line (which is surrounded by a fence. The neighbor's property is basically pasture land, however a lot of it is growing into a wooded area.). I had someone to cut down all of the culms this spring. For about a month I did not notice any new growth, however the last 2 months I have been going out everyday, using a handheld lopper and cutting down any new growth. (right now I can't just run my lawn mower over it, because the culms are still above ground about 2 to 3 inches) (any idea how to get them cut off to the ground, so i can just run the mower over the area)>. Also I have seen new shoots over on my neighbors side of the fence. I am so upset, I know I am going to have to speak with him about this, but I'm not sure how he will take it. I would like to have access to his property to cut back any new growth on his side and/or maybe putting up a barrier around the whole area that I believe the bamboo may have spread if I can afford to do that. (really not sure the cost of this though). The new growth is leafing out as soon as the sprout emerges out of the ground and some of it is more like a small bunch of weeds clumped together. Should I cut it back as soon as it shoots up to stop it from leafing out? I am dealing with this all alone and I am really not dealing with it very well emotionally. Any help would be greatly appreciated

    ReplyDelete
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    1. If you have a bunch of stumps close to the ground that are too big for a lopper to take out, you can try getting one of those battery operated reciprocating saws which can get them down pretty close to ground level so a mower can go over them.

      The $50 cheapest electric chord chain saw will be more than enough too, but both could cut through these stumps like butter.


      If you put a trench between your yard and the neighbor's then knock down the culms on the other side, there shouldn't be much regrowth since the rhizome connections will be severed already. If your neighbor is leaving it alone, chances are that he doesn't even care if they are there.

      For the short weedy growth, you should chop it off once it branches out, but before it leafs out so it can expend its energy. This means you won't have to cut it again.

      Once you get a good idea of the bamboo's growth cycle, it's really not all that hard to control.

      Delete
  29. When using glysophate products, it is important to brush it onto fresh cuts. This may have to be repeated, but will eventually cause the root to die off.

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    1. For ground covers, they can still be killed off like a lawn by spraying right into the soil because most types don't grow very deep rhizomes, and the glysophate can still be absorbed through the roots. It is different for bigger bamboos.

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  30. Hi Steve, Have bamboo in backyard that I thought I had contained with cut down plastic garbage can. Have had it maybe about ten years and realized it had no more room to go and had started to grow over garbage can. This past winter killed all that I had that was growing tall so I cut it all back and have been doing what you suggested about keeping everything cut to ground hoping to kill off any new that might take over. Problem is what is now dead I am unable to dig out as it hard like concrete. Tried digging outside garbage can and was able to remove it so tried inside and again no luck. What do you recommend? Would like to plant something else in that spot.

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    1. If you have a bamboo stuck inside a cut garbage can and want to get it out, couldn't you just cut through the roots, and rhizomes with an electric chainsaw?

      It can take a while to rot away. If you plant something like comfrey which is a plant that mines nutrients out of the ground which also grows leaves that can be used as fertilizer for other plants, that should work well.

      I have several dozen comfrey plants growing right now. http://www.bambooweb.info/bb/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6689

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  31. Darn, I wish I had found your blog about 10 years ago, when I bought my house, complete with bamboo privacy screen! I could see that the thick stalks were leaning against the retaining wall at my property line, and had pushed it out a bit, but couldn't figure out what to do about it. Finally . . . you guessed it, 3 years ago they broke the 8' concrete cinder block wall. While it was down, I had a guy come in and cut down the bamboo closest to the wall, creating about a 12" barrier, which the contractor filled with gravel after he constructed a new (expensive!) replacement wall. I just noticed that there are thick stalks leaning against the new wall! Don't know how that happened, but I'm beside myself. And even though the guy created a trench on the other side (closer to my home) and put in a rhizome barrier, somehow the bamboo on that side has cracked the low retaining wall closer to my home, and is spreading out onto the grass. I'd hate to have to remove all of the bamboo, as I do love the beauty and privacy. But there's no way to get to the ones leaning against the 8' retaining wall without clear-cutting my way from the front. Is there a way to save any of the bamboo without losing another 8' cinder-blcok, rebar-reinforced retaining wall?

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    1. I would have to see a picture of what you have going on.

      I think you may have to saw away a lot of what you have, and based on your description, it sounds like you likely have a giant tropical clumping type. If you are in a cool enough climate, it may be better to go with a temperate running phyllostachys type if you have a problem with the rhizome mass cracking your retaining walls.

      If you like the type of bamboo you have, you may have to saw a lot of it away, but it will eventually come right back in after a few years, so you may need to do some annual rhizome pruning each time it gets too big.

      Post some pictures here, and I should get a better idea.

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    2. Steve, I think you're right--I looked at a bunch of Google images and it appears to be either a vulgaris or balcooa. I am in Southern California. While I love the privacy and beauty of these 20 - 30' bamboo, if I can't stop them from breaking another retaining wall, I will reluctantly have to get rid of the whole stand. How can I upload photos so I can show you the configuration of retaining wall, planting space, overgrowth, etc.? Thanks so much for getting right back to me. You are an amazing resource.

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  32. Hi Steve, thanks for this blog. Going on your advice here I am hoping to get rid of my bamboo and I am just wondering if you could share some time frames re getting rid of bamboo. i have been trying to get rid of mine for near on 2 years but them 2 years not very planed jut the bit of cutting and poisening. I then poisened it around Novemeber 2014 and then all the leaves were yellow in January 2015I chopped the whole lot down. And as expected it keeps coming back so I go out 2 or 3 times a week and cut it all back to the ground, pulling out some roots as I do. Its amazing how much this grows overnight. The new growth also comes up with yellow leaves meaning the poisen is still in the system. It is now Feb 2015 and I am just wondering how much more longer I will have to keep chopping away? should I do it daily? Or is 2-3 times a week okay? I am expecting along war :) But sometimes it feels like I am winning the odd battle.

    I also have a pile of chopped bamboo lying on an area where there is bamboo growing up underneath, I have tried to chop this as best as I can but I am wondering if I can mulch bamboo? I really am paranoid with this stuff and don't like moving the chopped stuff too far from origin as I am afraid it will somehow start growing somewhere else.

    Many thanks

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    1. If they are turning yellow after poisoning, and it is that persistent, I really doubt that you have real bamboo. It's most likely Mexican bamboo otherwise known as Japanese Knotweed. The easiest way to get rid of that is to continuously dig out the rhizomes until you have wiped them out.

      If you provide a picture, I may be able to confirm to see what it is. If it is knotweed, it can grow from fragments.

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  33. Excellent blog here. It’s out-of-the-way quality writing. If truth be told I appreciate the people like you! Take care Shane\'s Trees

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  34. Excellent blog here. It’s out-of-the-way quality writing. If truth be told I appreciate the people like you! Take care Shane\'s Trees

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have Yellow Crook Stem bamboo within a barrier in my backyard (approx 36 ' by 3') that I planted 5 years ago. It has managed to escape the barrier and I need to remove it before it reaches the neighbor's yard. I received an estimate of $6500 for complete removal but I can't afford that right now. If I use method #1 in your blog above, approximately how long will the new shoots keep emerging? Months? Years? Should I keep the ground moist to help rot the rhizomes? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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    1. I think the best thing to do if you have it inside a barrier is to cut it down to soil level with a reciprocating saw, or something equivalent, and keep them cut down each time new shoots have wasted their energy in producing shoots, but never let them make leaves. If you keep them from having leaves, you should be able to wipe out your planting by the start of next season.

      If you water it to promote shooting so it can burn out its energy faster, you may be able to make it rot away by this season without having to dig into it. It will however take 3-4 years for the stumps and root masses to rot away.

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  36. Hi Steve, I have a 7 feet bamboo plant in a pot; after the winter here in the UK the leafs have gone all yellow and dry. The stem is still greenish...is there a way to save the plant? How shall I prune it ?
    Thanks Raffaella

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They generally don't like to grow indoors especially without ample light. The best thing you may be able to do is bring it outdoors and hope that it produces new leaves however it's tough to tell without knowing the species you have, or a picture.

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  37. Hi Steve,
    First I wanted to say thank you for helping people.
    We just purchased an 1853 home end of November 2014 and we love it here. During the winter many neighbors told us we have bamboo? I've been researching as much as possible because we have a law here that Phyllostachys cannot be growing within 40 feet of an adjacent property and it's already there and has been here for over 15 years and maybe longer. I have city street on two sides and an open field on the other and it hasn't invaded the open field YET (I keep looking)? There is an old rock wall dividing half way down that side property line. I don't know how to explain this in a short version. I've been asking neighbors questions because it was cut down before I moved in and I want to learn more. I don't know what kind of bamboo it is. I think there's a variety here because of what's showing now. It is hard to distinguish what is stressed bamboo coming up vs. a ground cover bamboo vs. running bamboo and clumping. I've read that clumping bamboo can run and Phyllostachys can clump as well as run. From one side of my house to the end of the yard is completely covered with the canes that were cut but the roots and runners are still in the ground. Those old fat canes previous cut are even in the tree roots, all along the garage, in and around the barn just everywhere! There is another section that is completely a mat of one inch by one inch tufts that are tan leafy things with a bit of green now. Another section of the yard has very tiny shoots skinnier then a pen coming up. I dug up one sprout Sunday and tried to dig the runner which went in many different directions, is at least 10 feet long and it ended up breaking at both ends and that was just one little culm in moist soil. We saw runners above ground like snakes and we cut them before we started researching bamboo. We have fences, arbors, an old well, the original 1853 barn and huge trees, rock wall and more all invaded with the bamboo up to the house as well as through some of the patio. If we had to dig, we would have to demolish the entire property. Some are saying we'd have to cut down all the trees (a row of 100+ year old pines on the property line) and pull up the stumps, take down the original rock wall on the property line, pull up everything take down everything including the structures and dig out all the bamboo and rebuild? It feels like insanity! My boyfriend would like to try your method of keep cutting. I would like to send you pictures of whats going on here, please. The rhizomes and the bamboo are so tightly interwoven like cement that we would need a backhoe but still there would be rhizomes and runners left from where a backhoe can't reach. It is impossible to dig out any by hand and with power tools, we've tried. I also have well water and don't want to contaminate my well. There are also some 5 foot stringy grassy like tan stalks along side the back of the barn that is bamboo the previous owner didn't cut (he must have missed it) but I don't if it's stressed bamboo from what the previous owner did or healthy bamboo from last year. I don't know what to do. Is it okay to cut the above ground runners in sections (we did with an axe) or will that send a runner somewhere else? I have more questions than that but I don't where to start. It looks to me like it was planted on the property line for privacy and invaded inward. My main concern is that is doesn't invade any adjacent property. How do I do that? And, I don't want to get the bamboo mad and have it run next door! Please can you help!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. If there are some survival shoots coming up, all you need to do is let them expend their energy then using a pair of loppers or scissors to cut out the growth right before new leaves are formed.

      Without any leaves for photosynthesis, the bamboo will not have the ability to grow or spread at all. If you water the area, it may be easier to make survival shoots emerge so you can rot out the underground rhizomes faster.

      As long as you do not allow any leaves to be formed, you should be able to wipe out everything this season. You do not have to dig. Most likely you either have phyllostachys aureosulcata yellow groove bamboo. Some pictures would help.

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  38. will the small roots that break off from the running roots grow new bamboo? Wondering if I also have to remove soil that contains the little roots along with the runners and rhizomes?

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    1. Nope. The roots that come off rhizomes are not capable of regenerating shoots if it is a true bamboo.

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  39. Great site! I have a picture of the bamboo I'd like to upload in order for you to help me identify what kind it is. I don't see a way on your site to do it though. I can definitely tell you it's a running variety that my neighbor has planted in his yard for a privacy fence, but it has invaded my yard and those of two other neighbors.

    Thanks again for such a great and informative site!

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  40. Hello- Thanks for the blog....Do you know of cases where the seller of the house (the planter of running bamboo) was held responsible for damages to the house by the buyer after bamboo roots entered the foundation and walls of the house? The invasive nature of the bamboo was not revealed in the property disclosure agreement, although it was obvious bamboo was growing on the property.....Thank you for any comments you can add.

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    1. If it's sold, I doubt that the seller can be held accountable for anything. If it is a true bamboo, then the rhizomes should not be capable of entering house foundations or walls.

      It's just sometimes a pain for the new homeowner to cut them down until it loses all its energy and rots away if they do not want to keep the bamboo. The only time this gets tricky is when the bamboo happens to be growing around other vegetation, or plants that want to be kept, or along a fence where it is tougher to cut off the survival shoots. If it's in the open, then it can simply be cut to soil level and mowed until it expends its energy.

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  41. My neighbor planted Phyllostachys aurea 'Koi' bamboo in a ~150' strip along the property line between our properties about 5-10 years ago. Just the past 2 years, it has become increasingly invasive with new shoots coming up in my flower beds, grass, and even the cracks in my driveway. My neighbor took action and agreed to remove that entire stand (she has another stand in the middle of her front yard on the other side of her driveway). After I lopped down all of it (at least 300-400 culms), she used a mini-excavator to dig up the majority of the rhizomes. She plans to separate the uprooted rhizomes from the soil by hand, take the rhizomes to the dump, and level out the remaining soil. Since then, I have lopped about a dozen or so thick shoots that were about 1-2 feet tall that sprouted in my property (mulched flower beds, within a thick growth of lilies, along a wooden fence, and in the grass). Questions:
    1) Now that the entire stand is cut down and mostly dug up, is there a good chance the bamboo will not return?
    2) How careful does my neighbor have to be to ensure she removes all the dug-up rhizomes? I don't want them to re-root.
    3) Do I need to attempt to dig up all the rhizomes that have grown into my yard, even if the stand is now gone? I hate to dig up my flower beds if I don't have to.
    4) How tall should I let the new shoots grow before cutting them? When they are only a foot or 2 tall, they have little green "leafy" things coming out of the top of them...is that a true leaf? I was a little unsure on your definition of "branching" and "leafing."
    Thank you so much for your help. This situation has created a lot of stress for my neighbor and me, and we currently have a great relationship...I do not want this bamboo to ruin it.

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  42. Hi and thanks so much for all of the great information. My husband planted Phyllostachys Atrovaginata 'Congesta' (incense bamboo) in our yard approximately 8 years ago and it is very invasive. He loves it. He keeps it fairly contained with mowing, but we get 100s of new shoots every spring and some of the stalks are massive in width even coming out of the ground (4-5 inches). We have a very large area in our front yard and it has grown pretty massive (maybe 20-30 feet tall). We live on a busy street and it's a great "fence" (and we get probably 20 people a year knocking on our door asking about it...I tell them NO NO NO don't do it). The issue I have is just that I worry constantly about what it *might* do. Here are my questions, please:

    1.) He refused to put an in-ground barrier and so I worry about it jumping places that he says it won't (such as going under the street / across the street to our neighbors - it did go under our sidewalk to the outer strip of grass; or tearing up our driveway - it is right next to it or going UNDER our driveway to other parts of our yard; or breaking our foundation). Is it strong enough to do these things?

    2.) When you cut the growing shoots down, do they dry up and allow grass to grow, or are they permanently "dead" in your grass, leaving places where grass cannot grow? I am very worried about this one, as we had a few shoots in our backyard this year and even though we moved them down, I don't want to lose grass in our backyard.

    3.) We have a small patch we planted in another area that has been slower to grow and we have decided to remove it (small victory for me). Should we be able to remove it using the technique you described above - cutting and re-cutting? Not sure about this particular species responding to that method, but it sure beats renting large machinery and tearing up the entire yard.

    4.) We have HUNDREDS of birds living in it. The smell of bird poop is terrible, plus they wake us up at the crack of dawn. We have tried a statue of an owl and a sonic noise maker of some kind that my husband found on Amazon. Neither have worked. Do you have any recommendations on this??

    Thanks so much for any help. I never thought bamboo would cause strife in our marriage, but this stuff is driving me crazy.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Sorry - culms coming out of the ground not 4-5 inches wide...more like 2-3 inches. They are bigger in my nightmares. :)

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  43. In Montgomery County, PA, many townships have adopted ordinances or amendment to their legal codes severely limiting property owners from allowing bamboo to grow. Appropriate fines and cost to remove penalty included in the law.

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    1. If you understand the plants energy cycle, it is pretty easy to control and eradicate.

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  44. Hi, Steve. Great site! You are helping a lot of people. Sadly, after five or six years of enjoying my Phyllostachys Aureosulcata they are starting to spread rapidly and shockingly far from the culms. I don't want to be "that neighbour" so I have to do something to curb their spread. I am going to use your second method but I was wondering if instead of cutting of the bamboo at the base I could dig up the culms with the bamboo leaves still intact and replant it in pots? Regards, Richard.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You could simply stop the spread by using a pick and cutting a trench around the bamboo where you want to limit its growth.

      Aureosulcata is one of the fastest spreading species so it may be necessary to dig around it 2 times a year. They will not grow much in pots especially for the types that tend to run rampantly.

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    2. Okay, thanks for the advice. Richard

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  45. Hi from the UK. Glad I found your great site. I have just dug out a six year old Phyllostachys Nigra which had outgrown its space. Whilst digging it out I noticed that a runner had got underneath my neighbour's fence. Please could you tell me if this will die back now it is separated from its parent or what other action should I take? Thanks and best regards. Dennis.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. If your neighbors mow their lawn regularly, there's no need to worry. Also if you dug after shooting season, the rhizome sections on your neighbor's side should not have enough energy to regrow so they should rot away anyways.

      You do not need to dig out the rhizome.

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  46. Hi Steve - Great blog and super informative.

    I love the look and sound of bamboo and have had it for about 8 years. I planted it myself and I believe it is a running type since it seems to take a lot of work to control it. Basically every year, I dig up all the new rhizomes where they shoot out of the ground and follow them back to the berm that I built and snip them there. The problem is that even though my berm is about 24 inches high, the bamboo are still somehow getting into my neighbors yard and I have to do the same thing every year and go to all their properties (I am butting up to 4 neighbors) and dig up where the new shoot starts and follow it back to the fence line where i clip them there.

    Is there any way to stop their growth into my neighbors yards every year?

    Any way you could help would be greatly appreciated. My number is 631-327-0803 if it is easier to talk on the phone.

    Thank you very much for everything!

    Rick

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  47. hi steve, I have about 100ft by 100ft backyard which was 1/2 covered with bamboo 10-20ft tall. I cut all the stocks off at ground level. My question is whether to try and starve the bamboo or bring in a bobcat and level the backyard. I have bamboo growing under a deck which I can't get out. Would a steel broadfork work on such heavy roots? Can the bamboo be starved out?

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    1. You shouldn't need to use a bobcat as long as you do not intend to plant a garden in that spot soon. I would suggest keeping the area cleared until survival shoots are no longer greater than the size of a pencil then grass seeding the area to mow over and the grass should outcompete the bamboo at that size.

      As far as underneath your deck, a steel broad fork will not work however you can cut out any growth around and under the deck, then check every few weeks to make sure there is no more growth to make sure the bamboo gets starved out.

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  48. Hi STeve

    I have about 14 feet x 4 feet of Green Fastuosa. It was contained in a plastic barrier by the previous owner of the house. I noticed this year it has run out of its barrier. I would like to remove it. Will using method #1 work for this bamboo, by repeat cutting it down? And how long will the clumps take to rot so the area can be replanted with something else

    thanks for your expert help

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    1. If you want to start growing something any time soon. I would suggest cutting everything to the ground and taking out all the clumps physically or else it will be 3-5 years before you can grow anything else.

      They do rot away, but it takes time for the rhizomes to completely turn into mush.

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  49. Hi Steve the tag says its s. fastuoasa viridis

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  50. Hi Steve after reading your comments I realized I have japanese knotweed. ..any suggestions I have been digging it out for 2 yrs

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  51. Hi Steve after reading your comments I realized I have japanese knotweed. ..any suggestions I have been digging it out for 2 yrs

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    Replies
    1. Is it getting any smaller?

      I think you may have to make sure that it doesn't manage to produce any leaves or else it will just recharge its underground root systems since knotweed is one of the tougher plants to eradicate.

      Just take off all the roots near where you are getting a lot of growth, and then spray the small stuff with glysopate, and it should eventually take down the plant's energy.

      Good luck on that. I used to have knotweed, but it took me many years to wipe it out entirely.

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