Which Bamboo Control Methods are Best?
Bamboo is difficult to control, especially once established in an area, but with regular management practices the fast-spreading shoots can be suppressed and eventually eliminated.
Use our guide below to learn about our recommended methods for bamboo control, then click over to our Bamboo Prevention Guide to keep any new growth from occurring.
Cut Off Bamboo Growth with Physical Barriers
One step in controlling unwanted bamboo growth is the construction of physical barriers around existing bamboo shoots on your property. The underground rhizome root networks of bamboo do not grow very deep and a rigid barrier of concrete, high-density plastic, or even properly treated wood that extends 20 inches into the soil can halt the spread of this hardy plant.
Plastic rhizome barriers are available for purchase, and often offer the most effective bamboo containment option. Use a single sheet of plastic barrier in 30 or 40 mil thickness and a complete barrier can be formed with a single seam. Other options are unlikely to be as long-lasting or as durable, and most (metal or wooden barriers) require more seams through which persistent bamboo rhizomes could escape.
To begin the control process, remove as much of the existing root structure as possible by using hand tools. Try not to leave any visible bamboo roots in the soil, since they can generate a new root network relatively quickly from that existing piece.
If bamboo growing in your lawn appears to have spread from a neighbor's property, you may need to dig a trench at the perimeter to allow access to the underground rhizomes or culms that are supporting the unwanted growth. Note that a saw or other cutting tool may be needed if the roots are well-established.
Suppress Smaller Bamboo Shoots by Mowing
Smaller bamboo plants can be cut back and suppressed with regular mowing. This type of treatment would need to be continued for two to three years to achieve full control of existing bamboo, but it does offer suppression of smaller visible shoots in the meantime.
To maintain a mowing regimen against bamboo, create a buffer area around any established bamboo growth. Because some types of bamboo can spread as much as 15 feet horizontally in a year, try to diligently mow any new shoots that may appear within your 20-foot buffer area. Repeated mowing will catch the new shoots, which will not appear all at the same time.
Apply a Post-Emergent Herbicide
There are effective chemical control solutions for unwanted bamboo around your home. A post-emergent herbicide containing the active ingredient glyphosate will offer control, but there is some work involved. Bamboo shoots must be cut down to a stump and have the exposed end treated directly with the glyphosate product. New leaves that grow from the stump should also be treated with a 5% solution of glyphosate.
Herbicides containing the active ingredient imazapyr are also effective against some types of bamboo, including the very common golden bamboo. An imazapyr product like Nufarm Polaris would be mixed at a lower concentration--usually a 1% solution. This spray would then be applied to leaves or shoots in the unwanted bamboo clump.
Products containing Imazapyr are more effective against bamboo, but also result in greater foliar and soil activity after application, and could cause damage to any root structures from other plants that overlap with the bamboo. For this reason, imazapyr products should not be used near any desirable plant species.
Controlling established bamboo will almost always require repeated treatments, sometimes taking place over several years.
Always be sure to wear the appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) whenever mixing or applying any herbicide. This should include long pants and long sleeves, closed-toe shoes and socks, and chemical-resistant gloves.
If the bamboo you're working to control is growing near any body of water, you must be sure to select an herbicide that is labeled as safe for use near water.