Wins the doll.
You are in for a long hard road. Whether you use herbicide or muscle, or
both, it will probably take years. Even after you have followed every
runner and sprayed every shoot you will have to go around every year (or
more often) and check that some little bit has not survived. Every
surviving fragment has in its genes taking over the world. Note that it can
run for metres, even under hard surfaces, and come up unexpectedly elsewhere
including your neighbour's place. In one case I know of it actually pushed
up shoots through an asphalt driveway.
Bamboo is merely a very large grass. There are herbicides that target
only grass, killing both the visible growth and the roots. Poast and
Grass Getter are two that I have used successfully on smaller grasses.
(I always mix a little liquid soap with the spray to make sure it
thoroughly wets the grass.) Obviously, you must use care not to spray
this where it will affect a grass lawn.
My suggestion is to cut the shoots close to the ground when they are
about 2 feet (0.6 m) tall. This will kill the shoots but not the roots.
Do this repeatedly from now until the spring. Then, spray the
grass-specific herbicide on the new shoots when they are growing
vigorously. It might take two or even three treatments to kill all the
In the future, if you want to plant some bamboo, check with a reliable
nursery (not a hardware store or lumber yard) to make sure you are
getting a clumping bamboo, not a running bamboo. Clumping bamboos
spread very slowly, are easy to control, and are usually not considered
invasive. You apparently have a running bamboo, which spreads quickly
and can be horribly invasive.
Clumping bamboos generally fall in the genus Bambusa; running bamboos
generally fall in the genus Phyllostachys. However, there are other
running and clumping genera. Furthermore, some species of Bambusa are
very similar to species of Phyllostachys. For example, B. oldhamii and
P. bambusoides are both called 'Giant Timber Bamboo'; and B. multiplex
'Golden Goddess Bamboo' is very much like P. aurea 'Golden Bamboo'.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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