How to Kill Bamboo Permanently


Why is it Important to Kill Bamboo?

Controlling and eliminating bamboo is essential for several reasons:

  • Invasive Growth: Bamboo has a strong and extensive root system that can invade neighboring areas, including lawns, gardens, and even structures. This can result in damage to property and the displacement of other desirable plants.
  • Outcompeting Native Species: When bamboo spreads uncontrollably, it can outcompete and choke out native plant species, disrupting the balance of local ecosystems and reducing biodiversity.
  • Maintenance and Aesthetic Concerns: Bamboo requires regular maintenance, as it can quickly become overgrown and messy. Killing bamboo allows for easier maintenance and a more visually appealing landscape.

Some key things to consider before you start:

  • Physical removal is a labor-intensive but highly effective method for killing bamboo, involving digging up the rhizome network and creating a barrier to prevent further spread.
  • Herbicides containing glyphosate can be used to kill bamboo almost effortlessly, but careful application and multiple treatments may be necessary.
  • Natural solutions such as smothering with cardboard, hot water treatment, salt or using vinegar can provide alternative ways to kill bamboo but are much less effective.
  • Factors to consider when choosing a method include the size and spread of the bamboo, time and patience, impact on surrounding vegetation, and environmental considerations.

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Physical Removal

Physical removal is the most labour-intensive but highly effective method for killing bamboo and other weeds.

Follow these steps: 

  • Prepare Yourself: Wear protective clothing, including long sleeves, pants, and gloves, to prevent any contact with the bamboo's sharp leaves and stems.
  • Digging: Using a sharp shovel or spade, dig around the bamboo clump to expose the rhizome network, which is responsible for its spread. Dig as deeply as possible to extract as many roots as you can.
  • Rhizome Barrier: Create a physical barrier around the bamboo to prevent its underground rhizomes from spreading further. Use a heavy-duty plastic barrier at least 18 inches deep and extending a few inches above ground level.
  • Monitor and Repeat: Regularly monitor the area for any new shoots or growth. Repeat the digging process and remove any new bamboo shoots immediately.

Use a weed killer

If physical removal is not feasible or practical, herbicides can be an effective solution to kill bamboo. When using herbicides, it's crucial to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully to minimize any harm to surrounding plant life. Here's how to use herbicides to kill bamboo:

  • Choose the Right Herbicide: Select a non-selective herbicide that contains glyphosate, such as Glyphosate. Glyphosate is known for its effectiveness in killing bamboo and other tough weeds - this is the best one to use for Bamboo.
  • Spray Method: Dilute the herbicide according to the instructions provided, and use a sprayer to apply it directly to the leaves and stems of the bamboo. Avoid spraying on windy days to prevent drift onto desirable plants.
  • Repeat Application: For maximum effectiveness, reapply the herbicide as necessary, following the specific instructions on the product label. This may require multiple applications over several weeks or months.
  • Post-Treatment Care: After the bamboo has been killed, remove the dead and dried-out plant material from the area. It's also advisable to monitor the area periodically to ensure no new bamboo growth occurs.

Natural Solutions

If you prefer a more natural approach to killing bamboo, there are a few methods you can try:

  • Smothering Technique: Cover the bamboo shoots and foliage completely with thick layers of cardboard, mulch, or heavy landscaping fabric. This method deprives the bamboo of sunlight and eventually suffocates it.
  • Hot Water Treatment: Boil a large pot of water and pour it directly over the bamboo shoots and into the soil. The hot water will damage the bamboo's underground root system, hot water will not permanently kill Bamboo but it will damage it.
  • Vinegar Solution: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water. Spray the solution directly onto the leaves and stems of the bamboo. The acidity of the vinegar will harm the bamboo and inhibit growth (vinegar will only kill the visible part, it will regrow!).

Remember that while natural solutions can be effective, they may require multiple applications or take longer to show results compared to synthetic methods.

In fact they may not even be effective at all. If you want to guarantee your Bamboo will be gone then your only choices are manual removal or using a herbicide.

Whether you choose to physically remove the bamboo, use herbicides, or opt for natural solutions, it's important to remain persistent and monitor the area for any regrowth.

Making Informed Decisions

When it comes to eliminating bamboo, it's crucial to make informed decisions that align with your specific situation and goals. Here are some key factors to consider before choosing a method to kill bamboo:

Size and Spread of Bamboo

The size and spread of the bamboo infestation play a significant role in determining the most appropriate approach for eradication. Consider the following:

  • Small-Scale Infestations: If the bamboo is limited to a small area, physical removal or natural solutions, such as smothering or hot water treatment, can be effective and more manageable. These methods provide targeted control while minimizing potential harm to surrounding plants.
  • Large-Scale Infestations: In cases where bamboo has spread extensively and covers a larger area, herbicides become a more practical solution. Herbicides containing glyphosate are particularly effective for larger infestations as they can penetrate the extensive rhizome network and eradicate the bamboo systemically.

Time and Patience

Eliminating bamboo is not an overnight process. It requires time, patience, and consistent effort. Consider the following:

  • Physical Removal: While physical removal can be highly effective, it is a labor-intensive process that requires continuous monitoring and repeated digging to remove new shoots. This method is suitable for those with the time and energy to devote to regular maintenance.
  • Herbicide Application: Herbicides, such as glyphosate, offer long-term control of bamboo. However, they require multiple applications over an extended period. This method is ideal for individuals who are willing to wait and follow a precise treatment schedule.

Environmental Considerations

When choosing a bamboo elimination method, it's essential to consider the potential impact on the environment. Some methods may be more eco-friendly and sustainable than others.

Take the following into consideration:

  • Natural Solutions: Smothering with cardboard or using hot water treatment are considered environmentally friendly methods, as they do not involve the use of synthetic chemicals. These methods are suitable for those concerned about minimizing the ecological footprint.
  • Herbicides: When using herbicides, it's crucial to select those that specifically target bamboo without harming non-target species. Additionally, follow the instructions carefully and assess the potential environmental impact of the chosen herbicide.

Remember, every situation is unique, and the decision on how to kill bamboo should be based on careful consideration of the factors mentioned above.

By assessing the size of the infestation, considering the time and patience you can dedicate, evaluating the impact on surrounding vegetation, and being mindful of the environment, you can make an informed choice that suits your specific needs.

For example, in a small urban garden with limited space near desirable plants, smothering with cardboard may be the most suitable method to avoid any potential herbicide damage.

On the other hand, a large-scale bamboo infestation across a vast landscape may call for herbicide application to efficiently tackle the problem.

In conclusion, by taking these factors into account, you can confidently choose an appropriate method to kill bamboo, effectively regain control over your space, and prevent further spreading of this resilient plant.

Your questions, answered:

1. Can I simply cut down the bamboo to eliminate it?

While cutting down the bamboo may temporarily control its above-ground growth, it will not eliminate the plant entirely. Bamboo has an extensive underground root system called rhizomes, which will continue to send up new shoots if left untreated.

To effectively kill bamboo, it is necessary to address the root system through physical removal, herbicide application, or natural methods.

2. Is it safe to use herbicides near other plants in my garden?

When using herbicides to kill bamboo, it is crucial to follow the instructions on the product label carefully. Most herbicides contain chemicals that can harm other plants if applied directly to them.

To minimize the risk to surrounding plants, consider using a shield or carefully applying the herbicide only to the bamboo leaves and stems.

Additionally, be cautious of wind drift and avoid spraying on windy days.

3. How long does it take to kill bamboo with herbicides?

The time it takes to kill bamboo with herbicides varies depending on factors such as the type of herbicide used, the size of the bamboo, and environmental conditions.

Some herbicides may require multiple applications over several weeks or months to effectively kill the bamboo. It is important to be patient and follow the specific instructions on the herbicide product for optimal results.

4. Can I replant in the area where I killed the bamboo?

Once the bamboo has been effectively killed, it is typically safe to replant in the area.

However, it is advisable to monitor the site for any potential regrowth or remaining bamboo rhizomes. If new shoots appear, they should be promptly removed to prevent further spread.

It may also be helpful to establish a barrier or use a rhizome barrier to prevent any residual rhizomes from causing future issues.

5. How can I prevent bamboo from growing back after I have killed it?

To prevent bamboo from growing back after you have killed it, there are a few steps you can take:

  • Regularly monitor the area and promptly remove any new bamboo shoots or growth.
  • Install a physical barrier or rhizome barrier around the area where the bamboo was previously located to prevent underground rhizomes from spreading.
  • Consider planting a barrier plant or natural root barrier, such as bamboo root barrier panels or thick varieties of native grasses, to further inhibit the spread of bamboo.
  • By being proactive and implementing preventive measures, you can minimize the chances of bamboo regrowth and keep it from becoming a future problem.

Remember, effectively killing bamboo requires persistence and ongoing monitoring.

If the infestation is significant or you are unsure about the best approach, it is always recommended to consult with a professional landscaper or arborist for guidance and assistance.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask in the comments section below.

Need a strong bamboo killer?

What's the best bamboo killer?

Best for killing Bamboo permanently: Triple Action | Buy now

About the author 


Hey there, I am founder and editor in chief here at Good Grow. I guess I've always known I was going to be a gardener. I'm on a mission to share my UK based weed control & lawn care tips with you all. If you have any queries please post in the comments below.

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