Lewis Bamboo

Control and Maintain Running Bamboo

Bamboo cane


Bamboo is a great plant that has requires little maintenance other than controlling it to your desired area. Please read below about some simple control methods.

Aborting New Shoots

Identify unwanted shoots

Select shoots that emerge outside of your desired growth area.
Bamboo shoot 
 Remove unwanted shoots

New shoots are fragile and can be easily removed. A swift kick can even remove the largest of shoots. 
Selecting bamboo shoot to abort 
Decide best method of removal

This can be done very easily with a lawn mower but some areas maybe difficult to mow. A weed eater can be used in these areas or you can just kick them over.
Kicking bamboo shoot 
Growth is aborted

Once aborted the cane will never grow again. Using this type of maintenance is a easy way to control your bamboo grove.

Bamboo shoot removed 

New shoots are easiest to remove after they have reached about 6-12" tall. This is when they are the most fragile.

This is a good method but you need to remain vigilant during the early spring.

Once all the new shoots have been removed in the spring, you will be done until next spring. Occasionally, you will have a couple of late shooters but the majority will happen in the spring.
Aborted shoots 
You can see how easy it is to control even 'Moso', the largest cold hardy or temperate bamboo on earth. This cane would have grown to over 40' but can be easily abort.

Most all bamboo shoots are edible which can be an added bonus if you are inclined. This species 'Moso' is a common ingredient in stir fry.
Bamboo shoot
We control most of our groves simply by mowing, weed eating, or kicking new shoots that emerge in undesirable areas. Typically, new shoots emerge in the spring. This is when maintenance is crucial. Screening with bamboo. 
New shoots have a very high water content to support the rapid grow that bamboo undergoes in its first 60 days of life. During this fragile time bamboo is very easy to abort and control.

Roger walks the length of a grove maintained by regular mowing and root pruning done twice a year. This privacy screen cover nearly one eight of a mile in length.
A perfect bamboo screen. 

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Root Pruning

Roots or rhizomes can be cut to prevent bamboo from spreading. This method can be used when bamboo has been planted close to a property line. Using this method can help prevent rhizomes from traveling into undesired areas. If the rhizomes can't establish themselves in unwanted areas, they cannot produce canes there.
An open trench is established

A trench is dug 12 - 18 inches deep and about 12 inches wide. Bamboo root are superficial and are usually found in the first 12" of topsoil.

Inspect regularly for rhizome growth

Twice during the Summer and Fall we check for rhizomes' growth into the open area.
Gayle is about to snip the 1/2 inch rhizome

Remove rhizome growth.

Hand pruners or spades can be used to easily cut off the rhizomes as they emerge into the trench.

Maintaining an open trench in your yard can be dangerous so make sure that is properly marked or isolated.

Here it is cut away
You can also get similar results by root pruning with a spade. This is done by overlapping each cut. Just push the spade into the ground and remove it. Go all around the area that you want the bamboo to remain inside. This cuts the roots and keeps the bamboo in check. It is a simple method and will work if done correctly twice a year, mid to late summer and in the fall. This is a great way to control bamboo in the hard to mow areas.

The pruned rhizome will not grow straight out any more, but will branch off and the rhizomes will then be within the trenched area.

The privacy screen will therefore be formed along the line you root prune.
This is a good example of a  
a bamboo division that to 
most gardeners would appear 
to be doing nothing. However, 
underground it was about to  
explode with many shoots the 
next Spring. This plant had not produced any above ground growth in three years. Upon digging and counting the buds on the rhizome, this expansion could have possibly produced 2 new canes (culms) the next Spring.
Phylllostachys viridis Pigskin

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Physicals Barriers

Bamboo makes an ideal garden plant and grows quickly to provide privacy and beauty. There are many ways to control bamboo. Here, we cover the use of an in ground plastic root barrier. Many designers and contractors are nevertheless hesitant to recommend bamboo to clients unless a root barrier is installed.
Bamboo control

Bamboo is not magical, but persistent and its root system can find ways to grow in unwanted areas. Plastic barrier is a more permanent solution and when properly installed will contain around 95% of the growth.

Installation of a barrier will also accelerate the growth of a bamboo screen. New growth will emerge in the desired area. Also, the growth will be more dense because of the confinements and stimulate the screening effect.

Plastic thinner than 30 mil has been shown to crack when ground temperatures get below -15 degrees F. For this reason, we recommend at least 30 mil and greater material. The plastic barrier has a better chance of not crack when frozen like other materials, even concrete will freeze and crack over the years. Driveways are poured 4 to 6 inches deep and they frequently crack. Concrete was used many years ago at Byron Agriculture Station in Byron, Georgia. It was found to crack below the frost line allowing bamboo rhizomes to emerge on the other side. One of the many myths of bamboo is its ability to crack solid concrete. While a clumping type bamboo may do this, a running bamboo is not as forceful and just turns following the path of least resistance.     

The Polyethylene barrier has been made from recyclable post industrial regrind material when possible.

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