Black Bamboo Question
Hello, we planted Ebony Bamboo on the side of our home about 15 years ago (photo attached) and it has traveled all over the place including (starting to go under our foundation). We have cut it down (last summer), poisoned it with everything we can think of, had it dug up and it still is sprouting. Do you have any ideas on how to finally evict this plant? We received a bid from a supposed Bamboo Expert and he wants to bring in a backhoe and remove it. Any advise appreciated very much!
Washington County Oregon
There are two main types of bamboo, clumping (which stays put) and running (which spreads via rhizomes, as do some other grasses - bamboo is, of course, a grass). Ebony is a running type of bamboo. This means that it sends runners out to colonize other areas in the garden, including your neighbor's garden. Confining runner-type bamboo to where you want it is an ongoing process.
Probably the most effective method of controlling this type of bamboo is to make it a container plant. The rhizomes mostly occupy the top 12" of soil, so if you erect solid barriers around your clump 12-15" deep it should stay put. Any strays can be cut down and/or sprayed with herbicide, like glyphosate (Roundup).
Any control program is going to take 2-3 years of vigilant watching for new shoots and dealing with them. The rhizomes have stored nutrients that allow them to survive mowing or even spraying. If you constantly cut or kill off the shoots you will gradually deplete those nutrients. Bamboo does not like being mowed, so putting the edges in grass and mowing that regularly will use up discourage it, but the rhizomes can travel quite a ways underground -up to 100 feet.
This article, Bamboo Control, is a good discussion of your options.