Bamboo is a very beautiful, exotic plant that is easily contained, but can be very difficult to remove.
Basically there are two types of Bamboo: Running (invasive) and clumping (non-invasive) if you have out-of-control Bamboo, than you probably have the running type.
Running Bamboo is persistent and its root system will eventually find cracks in concrete and other materials to emerge through them. But luckily, the rhizome (root)is actually very soft and will always turn when it encounters something harder than itself.
If it has not yet spread to a location you do not want it in, simply install a plastic barrier (we recommend plastic that is at least 30 mil. This works great at diverting bamboo rhizomes)bury it at least 24-36" deep, overlap and seal the ends (tape, glue or fold)and your bamboo will not penetrate it and spread to other areas. Do not use plastic thinner than 30 mil as it may crack when ground temperatures drop and it is more easily damaged by rocks, roots and twigs which could allow for rhizome penetration. Concrete and metal are often used for containment but we have found that concrete often cracks through time and metal eventually rusts. Plastic outlasts both. There are many inexpensive sources of containment material on the web or at your local garden center.
If it has already spread, it must be dug up (forunately, most of the "root" system (rhizomes) will be within the first 12" of soil). A shovel and a sturdy back will take care of most small jobs, we use a skid steer loader (bobcat) for larger groves. DO NOT attempt to use chemical defoliant or "Roundup" type sprays unless you have a lot of time (months) and a lot of chemicals with no plans to replant anything in the area for a long time. Bamboo grows and stores energy for growth underground where your spray will not reach.
Alternately, if you have a desirable or collectible species you may be able to get your bamboo removed by a local nursery or bamboo specialist for free or at a reduced price. We often run up and down the East coast performing this type of work as needed for our clients. Check on the web for this service in your area for information and price quotes.
Bamboo is a wonderful plant, treat it with respect, understand it habits and it will reward you for many years into the future!
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