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How to kill bamboos plants permanently

If you want to stop the bamboos from growing into your neighbour’s garden, or just want to remove the old plants, here are 4 ways to kill bamboos plants permanently. Firstly, The best time to kill bamboos is in late Spring to early Summer when the plants have gone through their yearly growth. The warm weather will also help to kill the bamboos.

4 ways to kill bamboos plants permanently

Although bamboo plants are evergreen and adorable plants adorable, the rate at which they grow can be troublesome. In fact, they spread aggressively and take up any space that is available very quickly if left untouched for 2 – 3 years. Find out if one of these methods is ideal for you.

  • Cut culms and dig rhizomes to kill bamboos
  • Pour boiling water on shoots
  • Apply vinegar
  • Cut and burn to kill bamboos

Note: If you are going to completely remove a large grove of unwanted bamboo plants, the best thing to do is to get it done professionally. The work is painstakingly hard. If you want to do it yourself, here are 4 ways to kill bamboos plants permanently.

Cut culms and dig up rhizomes to kill bamboos permanently

This is the most effective, non-chemical, way to permanently kill your bamboo. But it is the painstakingly hard work.

You will need

  • Pickaxe
  • Garden rake
  • Pairs of secateurs or garden loppers

1: Cut down the culms (stems), remove the branches and store the bamboo canes for future use.

2: The rhizomes grow on the top layer of the soil, so dig down, along with or around the bamboo plant. Cut all the rhizomes and pull them out.

3: You will also have to remove the whole bamboo buds and clumped base. Put a pickaxe through the base of the bamboo and remove them one by one. Use a pair of secateurs or garden loppers to cut the rhizomes into smaller pieces.

4: Remove any soil around the bamboo roots and base of the parent plant. Keep the cutting in direct sun or pour boiling water on them to stop the cutting from growing again.

If you want to remove bamboo permanently, you must remove all rhizomes, including the cuttings and discard them away from your property.

Here is the list of tools you will need.

Hand tools/Uses

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

DIY Hand Tools at B&Q online

Pickaxe: Dismantles rhizomes and clumps.

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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.

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

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Pour boiling water on bamboo shoots and rhizomes

You will need

  • Garden shape or pickaxe
  • Containers of boiling hot water
  • A pair of garden loppers and secateurs

1: To kill bamboo in the garden using hot water, cut the culms as close to the ground as you can, dig around (and through) the plant to expose the rhizomes and or clumped base of the bamboos.

2: Pour hot water directly on the new shoots and exposed rhizomes, around the base of the bamboo and where there are signs of growth.

3: Repeat the steps if new shoots grow the following Spring.

If you have bamboos that are 2 – 3 years, this method will work just fine. Bamboos that are older than 5 years will have well established and rhizomes (in running bamboos) or build-up clumps (in clump-forming bamboos) which make it harder to treat with hot water.

3. Use white vinegar to kill bamboos

At a pH of 2.4, distilled white vinegar is a pretty strong acid. It can kill the bamboo’s new shoots and rhizomes tips if applied directly. The steps are the same as using hot water mentioned above but instead use white vinegar.

What you need

  • Garden rake
  • Watering cans
  • Sharp garden spade
  • Undiluted white vinegar
  • A pair of garden loppers and secateurs

1: Use the pair of garden loppers to cut the bamboo culms close to the ground.

2: Dig around the bamboo plant to expose the root system. Use the garden rake to remove soil where you dug and tidy the area.

3: Pour undiluted white vinegar directly onto the culms, exposed roots, rhizomes and shoots.

If you are killing the bamboos using vinegar in Spring, monitor the plant over Summer. Reapply vinegar if new growths appear. And leave the plant rest through Winter. The final thing to do is to completely remove the bamboos. This should be done the following Spring.

Note: The work required for running bamboos and clump-forming bamboos is slightly different. The running bamboos have horizontal stems (rhizomes) that you have to expose before applying the undiluted white vinegar. Whereas the clump-forming bamboo may require cutting and digging around the clump to expose the roots.

Cut and burn bamboos to kill bamboos

Burning can be very effective but is not environmentally friendly. It is common in bamboo growing regions of Asia and the Pacific where slash-and-burn farming is common. Although it is not an environmentally friendly way to kill bamboo permanently, it is less labour intensive compared to the methods mentioned above.

What you need

  • Pickaxe
  • Garden rake
  • A pair of garden loppers or secateurs

1: Cut the culms and rhizomes close to the ground. Collect the bamboo stick for use in the garden.

2: Dig up the bamboo, loosen the soil around the roots and rhizomes.

3: Leave the cuttings and leaves for a few days to dry.

4: Put enough bamboo cuttings into the fire pit or the enclosed fireplace. Add more until you’ve burnt all the cuttings. Do not burn all of them at the same time.

You can use bamboo ash in the garden. The silica content in bamboo is high in calcium and potassium.

Warning: If you are going to burn bamboos, use a closed fire pit or makeshift fireplace to contain the heat and flames. Do not burn bamboo in the open, near buildings, busy residential areas or anywhere that is not safe to make fire. The burning leaves and hollow hardy culms can release lots of heat and flames capable of reaching several metres high.

Understanding and working with bamboos

If you want to know the methods for killing bamboos fast, skip this part and read the method that you wish to use in the article. In fact, understanding the features of the bamboos’ roots, rhizomes and stems can reduce the effort required to kill the bamboos.

The bamboos are put into two groups: Running bamboos and Clump-forming bamboos. (We covered this in detail here – Bamboo Varieties that Thrive in the UK). The Running bamboos have an extension of long-horizontal rhizomes, very invasive. The Clump-forming variety forms and expansion of clumped base and grow really thick in clusters.

Rhizomes Growth – running bamboo

In the open, the rhizomes may grow to an average depth of 30 – 40cm. Although this depth is quite shallow, the intricate rooting system makes it difficult to kill bamboo permanently.

Therefore, you may have to apply one or more ways of killing bamboos highlighted in this article to remove them permanently.

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2 thoughts on “How to kill bamboos plants permanently”

  1. Digging is the best way to remove the bamboo rhizomes, but it is hard work.

    Thank’s for sharing your experience. Mine was similar, but it worked out well in the end…going clumping bamboo this time around.


  2. The article ‘How to Kill Bamboo Plants Permanently’ provides comprehensive strategies, both organic and chemical, for bamboo eradication. However, it could benefit from more visual aids and step-by-step instructions for clarity. Overall, a useful guide for those struggling with invasive bamboo.

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