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How to Remove Bamboo with Hand Tools

Whether you want to remove old plants or prepare the cuttings for re-planting, this article provides guidelines on how to remove bamboo rhizomes and culms the right way by using simple hand tools.

When removing bamboo, always do a clean cut through the rhizomes and culms without splitting them open.

Cutting the bamboo wrongly can damage the parent plants and the off cuttings, resulting in losing the whole plant. Take precautions when cutting bamboo, the slits are razor sharp and can cause injury.

You may find this article useful too: 5 ways to stop bamboo from spreading

Remove bamboo for cuttings

Learning how to remove bamboo rhizomes and culms is quite easy. But the hardest part is digging up the bamboo if you have an old plant in a pot or container, or in the garden. It is labour-intensive and back-breaking work you have to do to get the cuttings you want to re-grow.

image of bamboo rhizomes freshly dug and prepared for growing

From experience, it took over 2.5 hours to dig up the running bamboo rhizomes in an area that is 4 m (L) x 0.2 (W) x 0.2 (D).

On average, it can take 2 – 4 hours or longer to dig up an area that is 1 m (L) x 1 m ( W) x 0.5 m (H) area using a pickaxe if you are working alone.

If you want to remove bamboo in an area that is more than 5 cm2, you should not do it yourself as it may take a lot more effort than you think. Definitely, ask for help or get it done professionally.

Tools: You will need a pickaxe, a pair of secateurs or garden looper, a garden rake, and a hoe.

Best hand tools for removing bamboo

As a rule of thumb, try to do a clean cut at an angle of 45 degrees as this will make it easy to push the cutting into the soil. It can also promote the growth of new bamboo buds or shoots.

You’ll need these hand tools.

Hand tools/Uses

Sales and offers (Available Now)

Wrecking bar: Provides leverage for removing tough rhizomes, roots or blocks.

DIY Hand Tools at B&Q online

Pickaxe: Dismantles rhizomes and clumps.

B&Q Offers

Handsaw/Loppers: Cuts culms to propagate.

Gardening Tool Offers

Sharp garden spade: Digs/cuts small rhizomes and roots, clears dirt.

Pedigree spade is ideal for narrow spaces.

Garden rake/hoe: Clears soil and dirt around the work area.

Specials and Offers

Pair of secateurs/garden loppers: Cuts large rhizomes and culms.

Check out the latest offers Loppers and Secateurs

How to cut rhizomes for propagation

Bamboo rhizomes are, in fact, underground stems. The runner bamboos grow rhizomes that run horizontally along the ground, whereas the clump-forming bamboos form clusters of clumps at the base of the main plant.

Here is how to remove bamboo rhizomes of Running and Clumping bamboos:

  • Select the rhizomes that have buds or shoots coming out at the nodes.
  • Put the straight into shade or bucket of water.
  • For Runner bamboos cut 4 – 6 nodes or 3 – 5 internodes off the rhizome.
  • If you are working with Clump-forming bamboos, separate the compact clumps with 2 – 4 bamboo canes/culms on the cuttings.
  • Re-grow the rhizome cuttings immediately.

Tool: You will need a sharp pair of secateurs or garden loppers for snipping the branches and cutting the rhizomes. B&Q has a great collection of cutting and pruning tools – check them out.

When taking the bamboo cutting off the mother plant, do not disturb any new buds and small roots on the cuttings. Put the cuttings in shade or into a bucket of water so that the roots remain fresh for re-planting.

How to cut bamboo culms to grow

Care should be taken when cutting bamboo culms. The new splits and edges are razor-sharp. A cut to the skin can be nasty.

You can grow both the Running bamboos and Clumping bamboos from the cuttings.

Here is how to cut bamboo stems for propagating in pots and containers or in the garden.

  • Select bamboo stems that are older than 4 years with a diameter of at least 2 cm.
  • Always cut the culms (stems) at 45 degrees with a hacksaw. Allow for two culm nodes and one internode. See the diagram.
  • Put the cuttings in water or shape to keep them fresh.
  • Plant the cuttings in designated pots or in nutrient-rich soil, away from direct sun. Cover the nodes of the new cuttings with soil and mulch.
  • Leave the top of the cuttings covered, free from any soil or mulch.

Tool: You will need a handsaw to cut the bamboo stems. A hacksaw, sharp long-handled or blade knife can also do the job.

Remove bamboo without chemicals

The rhizomes (and clump base) of many bamboo plants in the UK do not grow deep into the soil. They grow horizontally along with the top layer of the dirt at an average depth of 5 – 20cm. If you are going to re-grow the cutting, avoid using chemicals that can potentially damage the parent plant and the cuttings. (Read about the 4 Natural Ways to Kill Bamboos Permanently)

pickaxe for digging bamboo rhizomes

When removing invasive bamboo, always work smart, not hard. Take note of where the rhizomes are running before digging. Here is how to remove bamboo without using chemicals.

  • Cut the bamboo stems at 180 degrees across (horizontally), close to the ground. (Remove the bamboo or use them in the garden)
  • Dig a drain around or along with the bamboo to a depth of 5 – 20cm.
  • Remove the soil and dirt, cut off the rhizomes and clean the root hairs.
  • Removing rhizomes: Identify which way the rhizomes are running or how the clumps are formed, and dig along the rhizomes to remove them. (Do not break the rhizomes as they will grow back if left in the soils).
  • Removing bamboo base clumps: Use a pickaxe to remove the base of the bamboo – one base stem at a time.
  • Use a pair of secateurs or garden loppers to cut the nodes into smaller pieces about 1 – 3cm.
  • Remove any side buds and root hairs to avoid any chance of growing back.
  • Leave the rhizome cuttings in direct sunlight and starve them off water and shade for 3 – 5 days or unit the rhizomes turn brown. This should be enough to kill them completely.

Tools you’ll need: A hacksaw, pickaxe, pair of secateurs or garden loopers

Key points

The bamboos have tough rhizomes (underground stems) and culms (stems). The cuttings are likely to lacerate exposed skins. Take extra care when cutting them.

Knowing how to remove bamboo the right way is a handy skill to learn when growing bamboo in the garden or in pots and containers because you are going to need it.

  • Caution: The hardy splinters and edges of the bamboo stems are razor sharp.
  • Cut to the exposed skin is highly likely.
  • Care should be taken when cutting the bamboo stems and rhizomes.

Hope this article gives you an idea about how to remove bamboo rhizomes in your garden and stop the rhizomes from spreading into other spaces.

Leave a comment below to let us know what you think or how we can help.

6 thoughts on “How to Remove Bamboo with Hand Tools”

  1. Ooh, nice! This is exactly the kind of article I need because I’m going to clear my backyard tomorrow and there’s a small bamboo tree there which is quite hard to eliminate. Kudos to you for telling us that we could easily remove bamboo plants by digging drains to a depth of up to 8 inches alongside them. Maybe I should also refer to a professional so the end result of the removal process will look more than okay.

  2. We removed the bamboo in the backyard last year and got new cuttings, man, it is hard work. You’ve got to have the right tool for it. I find the pick-axe a superb (BEST!) tool for removing bamboo rhizomes. I definitely, understand what you mean when you say ‘get help’.

  3. Is this article giving instructions to eliminate the bamboo totally or telling how to plant on. Confused!
    I want to get rid of it all together.
    The Bamboo I’m trying to eradicate is “Fargesia”The rhizomes don’t appear to be too deep.
    Can I reuse the soil after clearing large rhizomes & sifting, Will any tiny feeder roots left in soil not regenerate?
    How do I prevent the plant from growing through next doors fence?

    1. Hi Phillip,

      Thank you for your comment and your interest in the article about removing running bamboo and propagating rhizome cuttings. I understand your confusion and desire to completely eradicate the bamboo from your property.

      Firstly, I would like to clarify that the article focuses on removing running bamboo, which spreads aggressively through its rhizome system. However, Fargesia bamboo, as you mentioned, is a clumping bamboo that forms clusters of roots instead of spreading extensively.

      To address your concerns about completely eliminating Fargesia bamboo, it’s important to ensure thorough removal of the base clumps and roots. After removing the bamboo, it is recommended to keep the base clumps in the sun or a dry place before disposing of them to prevent any potential regrowth. By being meticulous in removing all base clumps/roots, you can greatly reduce the chances of regrowth.

      Regarding the soil, it is generally safe to reuse it after clearing large rhizomes and sifting it to remove any remaining bamboo fragments. However, it is crucial to ensure that no tiny feeder roots are left behind, as they may have the potential to regenerate. Thoroughly inspect the soil and remove any remnants to minimize the risk of regrowth.

      To prevent the bamboo from growing through your neighbor’s fence, there are a few steps you can take. Firstly, create a physical barrier between the bamboo and the fence, such as installing a root barrier made of strong material that extends deep into the ground. This will help restrict the bamboo’s rhizomes from spreading beyond their designated area. Additionally, regular maintenance and monitoring of the bamboo’s growth can help detect and address any potential encroachment early on.

      If you require further assistance or have any additional questions, please feel free to ask. Best of luck with your bamboo eradication efforts!

  4. There were bamboo trees in the garden already when I bought my new residence in Greenpoint, and I want to have them removed to make room for the garden design I had in mind. I appreciate you letting us know that the bamboo stems must be cut at 180 degrees across horizontally and close to the ground before we can cut off the rhizomes and clean the root hairs. I’ll be sure to remember this while I go look for a bamboo removal service in Greenpoint to hire for the job soon.

  5. Ditching bamboo? It’s a tough task by hand! Grab a shovel, pickaxe, and strong gloves. Chop down the stalks first. Then, painstakingly dig up the root network, the rhizomes, working outwards. Be thorough – any left behind will sprout. Water the area later to tempt hidden roots, then whack them off as they appear. Persistence is key!

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