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Bamboo promises an exotic look and a dense, almost impenetrable growth. It is not for nothing that the various species of the Bambusoideae are becoming increasingly popular in domestic ornamental gardens, whether as a hedge or as an eye-catching solitary plant. However, what many people often forget when planting is the rapid growth and the almost impetuous spread of the popular perennials. Here we explain how to remove the bamboo roots and what alternative solutions there are for undisturbed but clearly defined enjoyment of bamboo.

bamboo roots

The roots of the individual members of the Bambusoideae family reach different depths depending on the species. The common varieties available from us usually do not penetrate deeper with their rhizomes than 60 centimeters into the underground. For removing the roots, this means that you should be prepared to work down to this depth so as not to be surprised later by the actual extent of the effort.

notice: In addition to growing in depth, bamboo also takes root in breadth with high intensity. When estimating the effort, you should therefore allow for enough leeway in all directions around the actual plants.

Remove bamboo roots

In order to remove bamboo rhizomes effectively and sustainably, there are various ways to choose from. In addition to the well-known mechanical methods, there is also the possibility of tackling the roots biologically or chemically:

Digging up the root ball

The easiest and at the same time most obvious method to get rid of the roots of the Bambusoideae is to simply dig them up. This requires a hoe or spade and a lot of muscle power. The root parts should then be disposed of instead of being put in the compost, for example. Because it is precisely there that the bamboo roots can use the high nutrient supply and sprout again. Careful work is important so that all root shoots are actually found and removed.

  • Tools required: pickaxe, spade, bucket or wheelbarrow, protective gloves
  • Effort: high amount of work, since the work is purely manual
  • Chances of success: very high, as thorough removal is possible through direct contact with the object
  • Time Frame: Effect is immediate due to complete removal

Machine digging up the roots

Those who shy away from pure manual work prefer to use machine support. Either the entire soil including bamboo roots can be covered with a tiller loosen and then simply gather the pieces out. Alternatively, a is more suitable, especially for voluminous root balls mini excavator, which has the necessary power to reach shoots that are deep in the ground. The simplification of the work is paid for with more effort in the preparation and follow-up, since the machines are usually rented and transport to and from the site, as well as the elimination of possible "floor damage" does not happen by itself either.

  • Required tools: motor hoe or excavator
  • Effort: Significantly less than manual removal, but more effort for rework due to intensive intervention
  • Chances of success: high, but with machine work there is a risk of overlooking individual pieces of root
  • Time frame: immediate effectiveness after root removal

killing by covering

The elimination of bamboo roots is purely biological by covering the areas in which the bamboo roots. A simple light and waterproof tarpaulin is sufficient for this. This is spread out on the ground and weighed down with wood or stones to secure the position. By depriving the roots of water, they are deprived of an essential basis of existence and they die over time.

  • Required tools: waterproof tarpaulin, wood or stones to secure the position
  • Effort: low, since the actual root removal happens by itself
  • Chances of success: mediocre, since the success of the measure only becomes apparent after the end of the covering phase and if the covering is not long enough, new shoots are formed quickly
  • Time frame: long, several weeks to months, depending on the weather, temperature and growth phase

danger: This solution takes a lot of time, so it can usually be used when no other plants are supposed to thrive in the covered area anyway, for example in winter. However, the growth and thus the water requirement of the bamboo is also lower here. As a result, the death of the roots also takes additional time.

Use of chemical substances

If you want to keep the effort low, you also have the option of using chemical weed killers. Before they are used, the bamboo should be cut back to the ground. This stimulates its growth and it absorbs the toxin all the faster after it has been applied. However, due to the high toughness and resistance of the root components, several pouring or spraying passes are usually required.

  • Tools required: chemical weed killer, watering can or sprayer, protective gloves, pruning shears or pruning shears for preparatory work
  • Effort: relatively low, physical activity especially with preparatory pruning
  • Prospects of success: usually only occurs after repeated use, but then it is quite effective
  • Time frame: moderate, depending on the weed killer chosen, several days to a few weeks

danger: Although herbicides kill the bamboo, they also pollute the soil and also attack numerous plants that you really don't want to get rid of. Since bamboo is considered extremely resilient, the chemicals often kill other plants even sooner.

Pre and post work

No matter which method you choose, in all cases certain preparatory and follow-up work is required to actually remove the bamboo completely:

  • Remove the above-ground parts of the plant before removing the rhizomes
  • Discard the roots
  • If necessary, fill in the volume of soil occupied by the removed roots

Alternatives to the hassle of removing bamboo rhizomes

If you want to save yourself the hassle of removing the root system from the start, which is both laborious and time-consuming, you can consider one of the following alternatives that promise a simple remedy:

  • Installation of a rhizome barrier in the form of a vertically positioned foil as a root barrier
  • prevents lateral spread of the plant
  • Switch to alternative bamboo varieties that have less growth urge with the same appearance - e.g. Fargesia
rhizome lock

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