Invasive Bamboo

Asked June 18, 2020, 10:52 PM EDT

Hello. My wife and I have invasive bamboo coming in from the neighbor's yard... so do all my other neighbors and everyone is unhappy about it. It's ruining my lawn and my kids can't run around on our new grass. We just installed a 2-3 foot deep tin barrier around the yard. What can I do about the remaining shoots coming up from the grass? Do you know if legally my neighbor is responsible for any damages/costs? How do I pursue this and with whom? Thanks! Andrei

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Hi - We are sorry you are dealing with invasive bamboo. This plant is a real challenge for a lot of people and you are certainly not alone. Please take a look at this article written by our University of Maryland legal specialist concerning invasive plants coming from a neighboring yard and what you can do, https://marylandgrows.umd.edu/2018/04/09/what-can-i-do-about-my-neighbors-plants-coming-onto-my-property/.

Here is our guidance for dealing with running bamboo and how to remove remaining shoots:


Non-chemical control involves physically removing as much growth as
possible: both the above-ground culms (canes, stems) and the underground
rhizomes. Rhizome removal is the more effective but most labor-intensive
approach; it will be more disruptive to a landscape and cost significantly
more than other approaches. Rhizomes may also be inaccessible if tree/shrub
roots are in the area, as they should not be damaged to protect plant health.

Cutting culms results in minimal environmental impact. This removal of all
foliage is intended to starve the root system of stored energy, which can be
a long process with bamboo. Look for sprouts that appear outside of your
yard so they don’t circumvent efforts to starve the plant. Tender new culms,
which typically appear only between March and May, can simply be kicked
or knocked over. They grow rapidly, however, so monitor plants to avoid
missing this opportunity. Culms that re-appear in summer will need to be
cut down again.

Rhizome removal by hand is extremely difficult and requires sturdy tools
and lots of effort. Heavy power equipment is the most practical approach in
areas free of trees, and even then, it can be tough for the machines to
remove entrenched growth. Equipment will need room to maneuver or else
desirable plantings will be damaged. There will also be soil compaction and
possible regrading needed after removal. Missed fragments of rhizome re-
sprout, so be prepared for their reappearance.

Chemical control requires non-selective systemic herbicides (glyphosate) that are
absorbed and transported down into the roots. Be careful with applications, as non-selective herbicides damage desirable plants if spray drifts or drips onto them. Due to bamboo’s waxy leaves, the inclusion of a surfactant will help the spray adhere instead of beading off. If you are in a wetland habitat or near open water, only use
herbicides labeled for aquatic areas, with no surfactants. In all cases, check
the herbicide label for verification of bamboo control and whether the
formulation already includes surfactant. For summer re-sprouts, spray the
foliage in fall (October) and allow the growth to remain undisturbed so the
chemical has time to work. Remove dead growth in spring as you search for
more new shoots to knock over.

The approach to use when treating with herbicide involves performing any
physical rhizome removal first, cutting or knocking down new growth, and
then treating the resulting sprouts with herbicide in autumn. This will
minimize the amount of herbicide needed. The cutting, kicking, and
spraying repeats each year the bamboo returns. Without herbicide use, the only tactic is to physically remove as much above- and below-ground growth as possible. As mentioned earlier, any foliage that is allowed to remain circumvents these efforts by continuing to feed the root system.


Christa