I am about to start a landscaping project, and the neighbor's bamboo has exploded back into life in my yard. 1. Is it actually possible to contain and/or eradicate bamboo 100%? Or will I just have to keep after it for the rest of my life? 2. Should I have the landscape company grind out the runners? or just try herbicide? 3. Any other advice on bamboo? Thanks, Kathy Fritts
Multnomah County Oregon
Bamboo plants are categorized into clumpers or runners. Clumping bamboo has short rhizomes so the clump only expands by a few inches in a year. Running bamboo, on the other hand has long rhizomes the grow far from the parent plant and start new clumps. You're dealing with running bamboo from your neighbor's yard.
The best long-term control is a barrier along the property border. A 22-30 inch deep heavy plastic vertical barrier works very well, as long as there are no gaps. Metal will corrode and cement will develop cracks through which the rhizomes will grow. The plastic barrier will last 20-30 years.
To control the bamboo now exploding into your yard cut off the new growth, by cutting the connecting rhizomes between your area and your neighbors with a spade or saw. Usually the traveling rhizomes are quite shallow. Even small pieces of rhizome can produce new sprouts. Remove any sprouts. Water and fertilize the area and watch to see if new sprouts emerge then remove them. You may have to do this a few times because the rhizomes have enough stored energy to continue sending up new shoots. You need to starve the rhizomes until they don't have the nutrients to send up sprouts.
The good news is that bamboo's active growth period is usually only for a couple of weeks in the spring.
Chemicals don't work very well on bamboo. Glyphosate undiluted will have an effect on bamboo leaves, but can affect other plants in the area.
A barrier is your best bet, but you can also control bamboo by cutting rhizomes during the growing period in the spring. This article from the American Bamboo Society gives more information, Controlling Bamboo http://www.bamboo.org/GeneralInfoPages/ControllingBamboo.html.