7 Solutions that Kill Bamboo Permanently

Written by E. E. Gonzalez
Published: February 22, 2024
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Bamboo is a hardy, perennial grass many people use as an ornamental plant. Its unique beauty and height make it a popular choice for adding privacy to backyards and a natural aesthetic to one’s property. Bamboo grows in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, and people use it for many purposes, including as a building material. In the bamboo forests of South-Central China, giant pandas rely on this plant for food.

As wonderful and important as bamboo is, it can pose a problem to homeowners who find it proliferating uncontrollably on their property. Bamboo can spread and grow quickly through its rhizomes (stems that grow horizontally underground to create new growths away from the parent plant). If you are wondering how you can effectively kill unwanted bamboo growing on your property, read on. Here are seven solutions that kill bamboo permanently.

Cut Through the Underground Rhizomes

Bamboo beam

Rhizomes are stems that grow horizontally underground.

©lucamato/iStock via Getty Images

One of the best ways to kill bamboo and control its spread is by cutting the rhizomes. Clumping bamboo creates short rhizomes, which is one reason that it poses less of a problem for property owners. Running bamboo, on the other hand, grows rhizomes that can reach up to 10 feet away from the parent plant. Cutting through the rhizome of a bamboo plant is the most effective way to prevent a new plant from growing. If you simply trim the shoot itself without pruning the underground portion of its stem structure, it is likely that you will get another growth in its place.

To cut through a bamboo plant’s rhizome, dig into the soil surrounding the plant. You can soak the area with water a few days prior to digging to make it easier to get through the soil. When you encounter the rhizome, use a spade, ax, or shovel to slice all the way through it. Remove the remaining rhizome from the earth. Bamboo rhizomes can be found 2 to 18 inches below the surface of the soil.

Mow Over Bamboo Shoots

A young man is mowing a lawn with a lawn mower in his beautiful green floral summer garden. A professional gardener with a lawnmower cares for the grass in the backyard.

Consistent lawn mowing is an effective way to kill a bamboo rhizome that is attempting to sprout.


If you have unwanted bamboo on your lawn, you can simply mow them to keep them under control as you keep up with your lawn maintenance. If you are consistent with your mowing, the bamboo will run out of resources to continue sending up shoots. This can take two or three years, but once the rhizomes have run out of nutrients, the plant will die.

Cover Bamboo Stumps with a Tarp

Weed Eradication

Covering an area with a tarp can prevent bamboo and other weeds from growing.

©Joe_Potato/iStock via Getty Images

If you have an entire area of bamboo that you’d like to remove, you can try cutting the plants down to the soil and covering the area with a tarp. Be sure to use a tarp with plastic or another light-blocking material. The tarp will prevent any sunlight or nutrients from reaching the plant, eventually killing it. Leave the tarp in place for as long as it takes to kill the bamboo until no more shoots are coming up.

Create a Solid Barrier Around Your Bamboo

In-ground barrier to contain the growth of bamboo (2 x 12 inch, 5 x 30 cm) pressure-treated lumber.

A strong, solid barrier can prevent a bamboo infestation on your property.

©RCraig09 / CC BY-SA 4.0 - License

Killing unwanted bamboo plants is pointless without effective preventative measures to prevent new shoots from growing. Those who wish to keep a bamboo stand or use this hardy plant as a natural privacy screen without allowing it to spread should consider constructing a barrier around their bamboo. A plastic, metal, or wooden barrier can prevent rhizomes from spreading, making bamboo infestation impossible. The barrier should be installed 18- to 30-inches deep into the soil.

Dig a Trench Around Your Bamboo Stand

Dig trench. Earthworks and trench digging. Long earthen trench is dug for laying pipe or fiber optic

A trench can prevent bamboo from spreading to the surrounding area.

©megaflopp/iStock via Getty Images

Another effective way to keep bamboo under control is to dig a trench around your bamboo stand. This allows you easy access to spreading rhizomes before they can create an infestation. Dig a narrow trench that is deeper than 18 inches around the perimeter of the bamboo stand. Check the entire trench for rhizomes twice per year. When you find one, cut through it and remove the rhizome stub.

Use Mulch on Your Topsoil

pine bark texture

A two- to five-inch layer of bark mulch keeps rhizomes growing near the surface, which makes them easier to cut.

©Oleg_0/iStock via Getty Images

Spreading mulch over the top of your bamboo planting has the double benefit of keeping your bamboo stand healthy while making it easier to prevent and kill unwanted bamboo shoots. Mulch promotes shallow roots and rhizomes. This means that as rhizomes spread beyond the stand area, they are much easier to identify, access, and cut.

Use a Chemical Herbicide (with Great Care)

Cleaning and disinfection tools kit, isolated on white background. Protective respirator mask, manual pump nebulizer and jerry can to destroy bacteria housekeeping and pesticides for gardening Plants

Many people use chemical herbicides like imazapyr and glyphosate to kill unwanted bamboo.

©Visivasnc/iStock via Getty Images

Imazapyr is a non-selective herbicide that effectively kills a wide variety of plants, including bamboo. Many people use glyphosate to kill bamboo. Studies have shown that imazapyr is more effective than glyphosate in this endeavor. Both imazapyr and glyphosate should be applied to the leaves and stem of the bamboo plant. They should be kept away from bodies of water and nearby plants.

Writer’s note: Using chemical herbicides with great care is important. Scientists have found that glyphosate can be harmful to humans and animals. Many people choose to remove bamboo and other weeds via natural methods before using chemical herbicides to avoid health risks and to protect other plants and wildlife that live close to the weeds. If you use an herbicide, read the labeled instructions thoroughly and follow them carefully.

Summary of 7 Solutions that Kill Bamboo Permanently

1.Cut Through the Underground Rhizomes
2.Mow Over Bamboo Shoots
3.Cover Bamboo Stumps with a Tarp
4.Create a Solid Barrier Around Your Bamboo
5.Dig a Trench Around Your Bamboo Stand
6.Use Mulch on Your Topsoil
7.Use a Chemical Herbicide (with Great Care)

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Thierry Hebbelinck/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

E. E. Gonzalez is a writer, editor, and creative who loves learning about wildlife. She has researched and written many articles, books, and other texts about animals, plants, and conservation issues. In addition to her passion for researching the natural world, Ms. Gonzalez loves bookbinding, creating visual art, and writing songs. She has one cat and three plants at her home in Chicago.

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