5

My question, about eradicating bamboo, is similar to this one but that asker said his landscape is large, at 1-acre, and hillside in Oregon. I live in a single family home with a property footprint of 3300ish sq. ft.

I live in Orange County in southern California, so the climate is mostly dry, quite hot in summer, and mild winters with 2 or 3 months of rain in winter. I'm a first-time homeowner, and disheartened that the bamboo that the previous owner planted seems to have spread invasively. It was planted in our back patio, which is mostly covered with a thick 8-ish inch single-piece of slab (not individual tiles) with small openings around some of the edges, seemingly for small pockets of plants. The bamboo was planted in one of these openings. Although I knew bamboo spread invasively, I took no action, stupidly hoping that it'd just behave by itself thinking that the previous owners knew what they were doing and wouldn't plant anything with destructive/invasive potential. One year later (this year), I noticed bamboo sprouting up from some of the openings away from the original planting site, meaning the roots had spread around possibly under the slab. A few weekends ago, I uprooted the bamboo from the original planting site, pulling out lots of the roots that had indeed spread away from there. But I couldn't work on those that had spread outside my property or under the slab. I thought I'd done a good job because I'd pulled out so much of those roots. But now a few weeks later, I see more shoots popping up.

I'm disheartened because I think now that nothing less than 100% eradication can eliminate the invasive spread. Is there any specific advice the community can offer? Should I call a landscaping company to take care of this? Is "bamboo removal" a service they typically provide? Or should I use some form of herbicide over all the soil patches where I don't want the bamboo anymore? Or should I stop watering for several weeks (or however long)? Or must I resign myself to recurring battles with newly-rising shoots every few weeks? I'm not (yet) worried about the bamboo shoots damaging my floor or anything like that; I just hate the idea of an invasive plant running roughshod through my property, potential damage it could cause, hurting the home's resale value, and the ongoing maintenance, etc.

I'm open to, and grateful for, any/creative ideas. Thank you.

Update:

Thank you to commenters and answerer. Updated with pictures.

It's been a couple weeks since my original post (sorry for the delay, to those requesting pictures). Since then, shoots have started coming up in new locations; I can't help but anthropomorphize this bamboo, which makes me think the bamboo is getting "panicked" or "desperate" now that the original planting site has been dug out - which also makes me think of John Carpenter's "The Thing" when the creature went crazy after it'd been found out. I've tried to be diligent by ripping out these new shoots and as much of the rhizome system as possible - but again, the "floor"/"slab" (see pictures) is just too big and thick for me to attempt getting to the rhizome system that's traveled underneath it. I haven't yet, but I will search out glyphosate, as suggested by answerer @stormy below.

One worrisome aspect is that the bamboo has spread outside my property, i.e. under/outside my fence...so even if I maintain/eradicate the bamboo from within my property, I'm worried that the rhizome system that's gone outside my fence could spread back in...meaning this could end up being an unending cycle of the rhizome system spreading in and out and in and out of my property. Sigh.

Sorry again for the delay between original posting and update, but if these new pictures inspire new thoughts/suggestions, I'm grateful for them.

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • It sounds as if you have noticed the invasive nature of bamboo early enough to not be too inconvenienced. You should look at your mortgage papers. There are in some cities/counties provisions for discovery of invasive species before a home sale. Equisetum or Horse tail, Japanese Knot Weed is another. I am sure that Bamboo would qualify. All jurisdictions are different. As long as your concrete slab isn't cracked you shouldn't have to worry about bamboo. Unless you've got poor drainage to your foundation their roots will go elsewhere. Please send pictures! – stormy Jul 22 '18 at 23:14
  • When I lived in Vancouver BC a local botanical garden tried to get rid of a patch of bamboo. The method they used was to dig up all the roots to a depth of a foot and for the next two years leave the area completely empty of plant life, rooting out any bamboo sprouts that came up. They succeeded in getting rid of it. There may be other methods but they would not use herbicides. Don't be disheartened, just keep at it. Plants are tenacious but we've got bigger brains and we can beat them. – Al Maki Jul 23 '18 at 0:56
  • @AlMaki What they've done is 'starving' the plants to death. Glyphosate is quite wonderful to use to do battle with some of these exotic plants that have no natural controls. Glyphosate doesn't make the soil toxic, doesn't kill animals, does not leach because as soon as it touches any surface the chemistry changes. Using glyphosate for bamboo, purple loose strife, japanese knot weed, Himalayan Blackberry, Equisetum is smart as PART of a control program. They should know better but they must be playing to some popular notion all chemistry is bad. – stormy Jul 23 '18 at 4:02
2

Bamboo GardensThis article might alleviate much stress and anxiety. I guess the 'invasive' nature of plants is based upon seed dispersal, not roots. What the previous owners should have done was to create a barrier at least 1 foot deep around the roots of the bamboo to sequester the roots and stop the encroachment. 1.5 feet barrier such as galvanized metal roofing works well.

Be glad you don't have Japanese Knot Weed. ha ha ha? Digging up the roots of bamboo is great, just try to not chop up the roots too much and leave pieces behind. Starving a plant is the best manual way to control any plant. Glyphosate works well if you have a vigorously growing plant with photosynthesizing (green) leaves. There is no one method for 'eradication'. These tough plants need multi tiered systematic management techniques... combining chemistry (glyphosate), starving (cutting off the top growth) and manual removal. A 'maintenance schedule' and you will remain in control of your castle!

I just noticed you were thinking of some 'pre emergence' herbicide to control bamboo. That isn't happening. You can push metal or plastic sections down into the ground to stop the roots from growing any further into your property. Some Bamboos are just not going to even have invasive root systems. Watering the bamboo stops the roots from searching for water.

Please send a few more pictures...this should not at all be giving you ulcers! Bamboo as a small patch is no big deal. Seriously. We need to ID the bamboo for starters, pictures of the environment and the plant itself will help tremendously to help you 'control' possibly eradicate bamboo in your yard.

P.S. notes: Ugh your bamboo wants to survive. It finds moisture where ever it is able. I would simply wipe glyphosate on the new shoots when ever you see them. You've got a small property thank goodness! You can starve this bamboo out with not a lot of effort. Remember, this plant not only needs water, it needs light and chemistry. Starving primarily means getting rid of photosynthetic growth without which it will not survive at all. But you can also think about starving them of chemistry and water.

What is that plant you are espaliering? Wow. Send another question about pruning these guys! I would put some metal roofing sections to block the soil of that plant from all the other soils and then using landscape grade 'vinegar' change the pH of the soils (temporarily) where no plants are able to grow...brings the soil pH down to 3. No plants will grow in that pH. When you want to plant those areas later all one needs to do is add lime to bring the pH back up to normal.

Glyphosate should only be used on vigorously growing photosynthetic leaves. Just wet the new growth and leave it be so that glyphosate is transferred to the roots. Wait 3 weeks and if that shoot is still alive, do it again. If anything this will slowly dissemble your bamboo. Don't worry about going after the roots. They are definitely under the slab! I would consider taking a few of those pavers out around your espalier plant's roots giving it more room. Make a jagged edge, far more interesting. Leave the pavers to allow at least 3' width of access to your back door. Try to isolate that plant from the rest of the beds as you deal with this bamboo. I do not like that bamboo getting so close to your home's foundation. What?? This is a single slab not pavers? That doesn't mean you can't cut out sections to make larger 'beds' but those beds are too narrow do plant much of anything. Another idea is to enlarge the concrete to get rid of these tiny strips all the way to your foundation. The bamboo would effectively be prevented from growing near your home. Use potted plants on your patio and don't worry about planting in the soil. Win-win-win. More space for you on the patio, no space for the bamboo to want to grow to except...neighbors, and potted plants on a patio makes sense.

Your fence is being compromised with those chips, mulch. All mulch and plants and soil should be a minimum of 2 inches below any wood any siding. Actually all soil, mulch and chips should be 4 inches below your siding and I am seeing, I think, only 2? I would go and scrap off your chips and soil, excavate down so there is 4 inches below the bottom of your slab (8" thick for real?), place crushed gravel, compact and have your patio expanded all the way to the fence and your home's foundation. Do you know who it was who installed this patio concrete? Get them back!

This will surely stop the bamboo. It won't pop through concrete when there is nothing worth getting on the other side. Your neighbors should be brought into this problem at the same time. You will have more space for humans and a wonder surface for potted plants. Groupings of potted plants where the pots are in some way related; by color, shape, material. Turn some pots upside down to use for raised platforms and verticality. Is that a word?

Forget using the vinegar if you enlarge your patio. You won't have to worry about bamboo again. Would this idea work for you and your budget? Please tell us what that espalier is or send pictures for ID in another question along with how to thin and prune and maintain your espalier!

  • thank you for the link and info; it does set me somewhat at ease in the sense that it sounds like my home's not going to be destroyed, but it's still mildly dismaying that ongoing, years-spanning maintenance is the only path forward. As requested, I've posted pictures. There are no more mature plants inside my property, but I posted pictures of the leaves from one mature shoot that's gone and grown outside my fence - I hope that helps identify the species; if not, please let me know what else would be useful for identification. – StoneThrow Aug 6 '18 at 15:46
  • Stormy, are you sure about bamboo considered invasive because of seed dispersal (not roots)? See bamboobotanicals.ca/html/about-bamboo/bamboo-flowering.html. They say most species flower only every 60 to 130 yrs (!) -- and then they die. I know that sounds too weird to believe, but really I haven't ever seen a bamboo flower. And you know what they say, "no flowers, no seeds." – Lorel C. Aug 6 '18 at 16:05
  • Roots are the problem with bamboo. Of course they have seeds but to constrain the roots of bamboo is the best way to limit the growth. I've never heard of people finding 'bamboo' as a weed in their garden if they didn't plant bamboo in their garden. All plants flower. That is what I have been told, read...do you know a plant that doesn't flower? A traditional plant? – stormy Aug 6 '18 at 21:11
  • My first sentence is meant to mean plants are categorized by their seed dispersal mechanisms for severity becoming a top ten weed. Gosh, I just learned that Japanese Knot Weed has sterile seed? I am all about barricading those roots from growing horizontally where one doesn't want bamboo growing. – stormy Aug 6 '18 at 21:14
  • Sorry, I misunderstood what you wrote in your answer. No I don't know of any "traditional" plant that doesn't flower, but if what I read about bamboo is true, that one comes pretty close: flowering every 60-130 yrs! That's nuts - if true -- do you think it is? – Lorel C. Aug 8 '18 at 0:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.