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Hardy bamboo is a great way to quickly install an easy-care, evergreen property boundary. However, without an additional root barrier, many species begin to spread over large areas within a very short time and crowd out other plantings. If the bamboo grove is to be limited or completely dug up after a few years, this cannot be done without muscle power and a lot of patience - the work is not done simply by cutting off the stalks. Instead, the underground rhizomes must be carefully removed.

remove bamboo

growth forms

If you want to effectively remove the bamboo jungle on your property, you should first find out the specific type. The around 150 different Bambusoideae species and varieties on the market are basically divided into two groups, each according to their individual growth forms:

  • Grove-forming bamboo: grows in clumps, does not develop rhizomes, does not spread
  • Rhizome-forming bamboo: spreads over large areas via underground rhizomes

While the grove-forming bamboo species (e.g. Fargesia) are relatively easy to get rid of, rhizome-forming varieties sometimes cause huge headaches. In particular, the very vigorous Pyllostachys species can spread over an area of up to 100 square meters - per plant. The rhizomes often continue to grow underground unnoticed, only to suddenly break out of the ground many meters away from the actual planting area.

tip: These Bambusoideae should never be planted without deep-lying root barriers, because the numerous rhizomes must also be dug up when they are removed - otherwise the grass will simply continue to grow.

Bamboo has deep roots

Rhizome-forming bamboo species only form a few roots in the actual sense, but so-called rhizome. These are shoots that run underground and are used by the plant to store nutrients and to reproduce independently. Depending on the type and variety of bamboo, the rhizomes can grow up to one meter deep into the ground, whereby the growth of the bamboo roots is highly dependent on the expected final height of the specific bamboo variety:

  • Species up to seven meters in height: rhizome depth up to approx. 70 centimetres
  • Species over seven meters final height: rhizome depth up to at least one meter

Also keep in mind that bamboo spreads differently depending on its final height. In order to calculate the area that will probably be covered with rhizomes after a few years, you should calculate the square of the final height of the stalks. For bamboo species that are around seven meters high, this results in an area of almost 50 square meters that must be thoroughly processed when removing.

Effectively remove bamboo

In view of the figures mentioned, it becomes clear that the sustainable removal of bamboo plantations together with the roots is not an easy task - especially since the plant keeps sprouting out of rhizome parts left in the ground. The following guide details the steps necessary for a thorough removal of all plant parts including the bamboo roots.

1. Delimit area

In one of the first steps, you should determine and limit the area to be freed from the bamboo, since all work steps are most easily carried out from the outer edges inwards. If the entire stand of bamboo is to be removed, use the figures given in the previous section to calculate the area that is expected to be processed. If, on the other hand, you only want to dig up part of the planting to thin out the thicket, it is best to proceed as follows:

  • Calculation of the area to be processed
  • cutting off all stalks close to the ground down to the desired planting area
  • deep digging of the rhizomes
  • while cutting rhizomes to the bamboo plants that are preserved
  • a sharp spade is suitable for this
  • Installation of a root barrier to prevent re-spreading
  • Milling and covering the cleared area
  • alternatively regular mowing of new shoots

2. Cut off stalks

Regardless of whether you want to remove the entire bamboo stock or just a part, you first cut off all the stalks as close to the ground as possible. For larger areas, use a power saw like a hedge trimmer, as this process takes time. For a smaller area, a simple pruning shears is sometimes sufficient. Thin stalks, on the other hand, can be cut down as far as possible and then mown thoroughly with a lawnmower.

tip: Basically, you can eliminate a bamboo grove at any time of the year. It works best, however, if you cut the stalks at the time when they sprout in spring. The plants now use the energy stored in the rhizomes for their fresh green, which is why they are deprived of important energy for growth by the constant cutting.

3. Thoroughly dig up rhizomes

Once the stems have been cut off, dig up the rhizomes with a shovel or spade. Depending on the size of the area to be worked and how deep the bamboo roots are, this work can be very time-consuming. For larger areas, it is therefore advisable to use a mini excavator to actually get all the rhizome residue out of the ground. New plants can always sprout from these. In addition, the rhizome parts continue to grow underground - at least if they are larger than about five centimeters. If possible, dig up the rhizomes on the same day you cut off the stalks. The extremely fast-growing Bambusoideae are otherwise more likely to grow back.

tip: Instead, you can also work the surface vigorously with a power tiller and chop the rhizome parts lying in the ground into pieces as small as possible. However, keep in mind that new bamboo plants can always sprout from these pieces - and the underground parts will only rot after about ten years or more. This can make it difficult to create new beds.

4. Rework and control

After the stalks and rhizomes have been removed, the work is still not done. There are always root and rhizome residues more or less deep in the ground, which sprout again and again. Therefore, check the area regularly and carefully and remove any new shoots that appear as quickly as possible. Without their above-ground plant parts, the roots also die after three to five years at the latest, since they cannot store any nutrients due to the lack of photosynthesis.

5. Cut off photosynthesis and nutrient supply

However, this time can be significantly reduced with the help of cardboard and weed film: Apply several layers of cardboard to the worked area and cover them with an opaque weed protection film. Leave the cover for several months - this doesn't look particularly attractive, but due to the cut supply of sunlight and thus the lack of photosynthesis, it reliably kills any remaining plant residue. The disadvantage, however, is that in addition to the bamboo remains, all other plants also die.

Use of chemical agents

In view of these labour-intensive instructions, many a gardener may think of saving themselves the trouble and fighting the rampant bamboo with herbicides (e.g. "Roundup" or glyphosate) instead. Apart from the fact that effective substances for hobby use are generally not approved, you are bringing a strong poison into your garden. Glyphosate, for example, has been the subject of much discussion for years because the agent is considered to be highly carcinogenic is applicable. Herbicides not only kill the unwanted bamboo plants, but also all other life - of plant and animal origin - in the area. Therefore, the use of such means is strongly discouraged.

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