A plant that causes many problems in our landscapes and with our neighbors is bamboo. This grass grows in two forms: clump and spreading.
The spreading bamboo is the most troublesome because of its new shoots that pop up in our lawn or planting beds. It is a common misconception that these new shoots come from seeds. The new shoots that you see are actually sprouting from the rhizome roots.
How Rhizomes Spread Bamboo
Bamboo rhizomes function as the plant’s lifeline, storing essential nutrients and facilitating rapid growth. This growth mechanism allows bamboo to spread quickly, making it both a resilient and invasive species. The rhizomes extend horizontally beneath the soil surface and can cover a vast area without any visible signs above ground. When conditions are favorable, new bamboo shoots spring up from these rhizomes, sometimes at considerable distances from the main plant.
Installing Bamboo with Containment
The process of installing a bamboo barrier involves careful planning and execution. First, define the perimeter of the area where you want the bamboo to grow. This could be along a fence line, around a garden feature, or in a specific section of your yard. It’s important to allow enough space for the bamboo to grow and thrive within this confined area.
Next, dig a trench around the perimeter of the intended bamboo area. The trench should be at least 24 inches deep to match the depth of the bamboo barrier. This depth is crucial as it prevents the bamboo rhizomes from growing underneath the barrier. After placing the barrier in the trench, ensure that 2 inches of the barrier are visible above the ground. This exposed portion acts as a further deterrent, preventing the bamboo from “jumping” over the barrier.
The choice of material for the barrier is significant. A 60 mil thick plastic is generally recommended due to its durability and resistance to the penetration of bamboo rhizomes. The material needs to withstand the pressure of growing bamboo and the general wear and tear from the surrounding soil and weather conditions.
Fixing Out-of-Control Bamboo
If you already have out-of-control bamboo, you can use several methods to keep the bamboo in check. One possible control is to cut the exposed roots that are moving away from the existing bamboo. Once a root is cut it will not grow beyond that point but will branch out behind the cut, so you must be diligent in cutting the roots. You can also control new shoots that are just sprouting by stepping on or kicking over the shoot while it is still tender. If the new shoots are over 3 feet tall, you can treat with Round up to burn the stalk back.
If you can no longer stand the bamboo, you can eradicate it. This is very difficult because of its aggressive nature. Cutting all of the bamboo down will only provide temporary relief. The stalks and roots must be completely removed manually or with machinery. It is impossible to remove every root initially; you must continue over several months to watch for and remove roots and new shoots. Additionally, you cannot kill the bamboo by only treating it with herbicides, as they are not yet a proven method of treating bamboo.
Johnson’s Landscaping is ready and able to install, control, or remove any bamboo for you. Please contact us if we can assist you with your bamboo needs.