We have all heard of the bamboo invasion horror stories; it will get under the foundation, destroy the driveway, strangle your mother.

Some are true, but most are due to improper placement, poor maintenance and neglect.  Some of the problems can be remedied, but you might also need to remove it all and start over.

Usually the best tool is a stump grinder with a hydraulic head.  They are small enough to fit through most gates, minimally disturb the surrounding soil, and are readily available for rental.  When removing an existing grove the canes are cut as flush as possible to ground level, leaves raked, and the area prepared.  Then the dense cluster of cane stubs, and root and rhizome network is ground up.  The soil will need to be sifted to remove the largest pieces of viable rhizome, usually pieces 4″ and less will die off.  Sometimes within the remainder of the growing season, or the next you will see a couple of new shoots.  These are usually small and can either be cut down, or better yet dug up.  The soil will be soft and loose from the grinding and the stray rhizome will be small, shallow and weak.

Challenges are access and obstacles.  When a grove is adjacent to a fence it is usually best to remove the panels but leave the posts, so you can be more thorough this way.  Sometimes rhizomes will be wrapped around concrete fence footings which will need to be removed by hand tools or left for the cut down method.  Rhizomes will pile up along foundations and walls, they should be removed by hand.  Rhizomes which are interspersed with larger trees or other plants which you would like to preserve should be spot dug, then diligently cut back.

The cut down method is when all canes are systematically cut down.  This works because the rhizomes have a limited number of viable buds which will either produce new shoots or new rhizomes.  When all of the canes are cut the plant freaks out and will send up progressively smaller, denser shoots instead of sending out expansive rhizomes.  If done over several seasons the plant will die off, leaving a network of hard, dry rhizomes and roots.  This works best with only small, hard to access strays, done after stump grinding the large grove.

Hand tools include mattock, pick, King of Spades, and the Slammer.  Sometimes a carbide blade on a reciprocating saw can help, but they dull quickly and only work in loose soil or with exposed rhizomes.

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