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I am on a 1 acre hill-side near the Oregon coast. The previous owner of this property decided it was a good idea to plant some type of invasive bamboo that covers a good 50% of the property (mostly the sloped backyard facing the ocean) and never maintained it. It covers a sloped area about 150ft by 50ft (running laterally along a hill). The bamboo is about 10-15ft tall and VERY thick! It is very aggressively killing everything else.

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I'd like to restore the hillside to its natural species like ferns, silktassel, ocean spray, ninebark etc. I'm pretty discouraged reading about how difficult a task this might be and it seems as though all of the suggestions are basically: mow, wait for it to regrow and spray it with as strong an herbicide you can legally buy. Repeat process multiple times. I may be restricted on heavy herbicide use as I have a creek running through part of it which feeds the community water system. I'd have to ask my water district manager, but prefer not to do this regardless. My ideas thus far:

  1. Hand root out all of it, a section at a time replacing slowly with a faster growing native bush / ferns etc.

  2. Cut it all down at once, cover with black plastic.

  3. Cut it down and mulch in native species, the idea being the mulch would kill the bamboo while supplying nutrients for the newly planted natives.

  4. Tie it off/lasso with a cable / rope and pull it out in large clumps with a tractor then compost it or burn it.

  5. Buy a goat!

Which is most feasible? Are any of these methods likely to work? I'm not 100% joking about the goat!

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I'm sorry to say that its likely most of those methods will work - chopping it all down and covering with black plastic will probably mean you'll have bamboo shoots growing up through the plastic, it'll come through that in no time. Digging it out with machinery might work, if you do it all at once and make sure to get out all roots, no matter how deep they go,and all running rhizomes. Doing it in stages won't work - rhizomes will spread from what's left and take over again, and cutting it down and mulching will certainly not prevent regrowth.

The roots on these spread outwards below ground, and go down around 18 inches to two feet, usually, so its a big job to attempt by hand. A small earth moving machine with a digger on the front might be the best approach, following up with actual digging by hand to make sure the area has been cleared. Even then, it would be better to wait a few months to a year to see if there's any regrowth prior to replanting with your desired plants.

  • Very nice to see someone with some knowledge respond! Thank you! I don't mind waiting before replanting... but i'm concerned with the 70 inches of rain we get per year here, if this will be an erosion concern after removing all of the roots on a large section of hillside. According to a local geologist, most of this area is pretty stable. But, still concerning I would think? Maybe I'm worried about something that wouldn't be an issue... – maplemale Oct 10 '16 at 23:49
  • If you know a geologist, ask his advice if you're intending to take the earthmoving route - I'd be concerned too, but I'm not a landscape architect nor geologist, and recommend you consult with one or the other before proceeding. A tree or two would hold it all in place, but you can't plant till the bamboo is cleared.... The risks might mean its best to use herbicides, then remove the roots and replant in stages once its all dead – Bamboo Oct 11 '16 at 0:16
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    Incredible bad taste to ask @Bamboo how to get rid of bamboos ;-) – Giacomo Catenazzi Oct 11 '16 at 5:33
  • @Bamboo: what about weedkillers? I'm thinking to use that for my (less severe) case. – Giacomo Catenazzi Oct 11 '16 at 5:33
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    LOL @GiacomoCatenazzi Ya... feels wrong. :) – maplemale Oct 11 '16 at 16:35

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