Please help identify our bamboo as clumping or running

Arthaey(8)May 21, 2013

We bought a house that came with a stand of bamboo, which we now want to get rid of. (We don't want to do the recurring maintenance to keep it from spreading beyond its barrier like it's starting to.)

I read that it's easier to remove clumping bamboo than running bamboo. But before we start trying to remove it ourselves, can anyone help us identify whether what we have is clumping or running?

Below are two photos:

You can click on the images to see larger photos on Flickr.

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Those are running bamboos. It looks quite small so removal should be easy.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 10:18PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

It's rather lovely. If it's running beyond the barrier, then the barrier was not installed properly. I'd put some energy into a proper barrier install rather than a bamboo removal. Maintaining bamboo is not a big deal; don't get spooked by all of the urban horror stories....

1 Like    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 12:51AM
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Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis' is the name of that species. It is a runner. It is beautiful and it easy to remove, but please don't. Leave it in the ground and let it trap (sequester) carbon. Bamboo sequesters a lot of carbon from the air and produces a third more oxygen than trees. If you insist on removal, let it go to someone who will cut it out of the ground and replant it. Your fellow earth inhabitants really appreciate it.

1 Like    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 11:15AM
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Arthaey, to each his own! :) I understand if you want to get rid of it. We're trying to keep ours but want to contain it better (well, we'll start with containing it AT ALL, and hopefully move to containing it well), can you share how the barrier is failing you in hopes that we can install ours better and prevent failure? Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 10:18AM
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Thanks, everyone, for the identification and the opinion that it may be easier to remove than some of the horror stories we've read about!

Jonjfarr: I love how bamboo looks and I understand how it is a beneficial plant to the environment. However, I'm not okay with it spreading all over our small urban backyard, and I'm realistically just not going to do the recurring work to keep it contained. And I'm not too excited about spending $2,500 dollars that the bamboo-removal-company bid for taking it out and replanting it elsewhere.

MiaOKC: The bamboo is sending up new shoots crowded right up against the barrier, including poking *through* the barrier in two places already.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 2:05PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

If someone is quoting you $2500 to take out that bamboo, you're getting ripped off. That's a day's work for one person with the right equipment (a bamboo shovel). And then they will have a nice supply of free bamboo which will net them a couple of more thousand.

The reason it's shooting up right next to the barrier is because the barrier is working. If anything is coming through the barrier, it likely was installed damaged. I'd like to see a picture of these breaks.

There are a lot of urban horror stories about bamboo which cause people to unnecessarily panic. I don't see that you have a problem, or how it threatens to take over your yard. I grow about 60 kinds of bamboo -- many without barriers -- and my maintenance is limited to a couple of days a year. But you have to figure out what works for you....

1 Like    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 3:22PM
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I contacted 3 local businesses. One didn't specialize in bamboo and said they didn't have the right tools for the job. One didn't get back to me. The third quoted $2,500. I don't know what other businesses to contact.

But yeah, my husband and I felt that $2,500 was WAY more than we were willing to pay someone for what isn't THAT much bamboo. Thus me posting to this forum asking about how to remove the bamboo ourselves. ;)

You can see where the bamboo came through the barrier in the 2nd photo. We cut through the bamboo (in a failed attempt to try pulling it back through the hole it had made, but it wouldn't budge). You can see the cut end of 2 shoots where the barrier meets the ground, just about dead center vertically in the 2nd photo.

1 Like    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 4:28PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

I see what you are talking about, but I suspect it came through a hole that was made in damaged barrier. If it were me, I'd take a root pruning saw and cut the rhizome off on the inside of the barrier. Then I would slide a piece of spare barrier down inside to cover the hole. And by the way, you don't need barrier to be that high: where I have barrier, I've cut it with a knife to be an inch or two above ground level. It looks a lot better that way, and you can still easily see any stray rhizomes that want to jump over, and prune them off.

On the other hand, if you are determined to get rid of it and don't want to spend a fortune, there are two options:

1) Advertise free bamboo. There are people who will be more than happy to get their hands on high quality bamboo and will dig it for free. I've been part of several digging parties that cleared nice bamboo out of the yards of people who let it go wild without barriers.
2) Dig it out yourself. It's hard work, but not if you have a specialty tool called a bamboo spade. Below is a link to the one I use. It reduces the time for removing a clump from about a half hour down to a couple of minutes. It's expensive (about $200), but it's a lot better than $2500, and I've used it for many other purposes, like dividing day lilies and removing large grasses.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bamboo spade

1 Like    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 5:10PM
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Sorry you're being offered such high rates to remove. If you lived near me, I would do it for free. It's too bad that people don't understand that removing bamboo is much easier than removing small trees or bushes. I have removed a lot of bamboo roots with just a sawzall and the knowledge gained from watching a 3 minute video on youtube on bamboo removal. I agree with Kudzu on this one. Advertise on Craigslist that you have free Spectabilis Bamboo for the "Digging". It's a desirable species with a value. What I have, I got for free on Craigslist. The picture above are Buddha Belly Bamboo with roots, that are thick and burly. I removed that entire clump in one hour solo, and a sawzall. Just let the saw do the work.

1 Like    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 12:44PM
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If you have any that have escaped the barrier and run into the lawn, then you may want to have a steel broad fork which is also very good for aerating gardens, but it's excellent in extracting stray rhizomes as the blades get as deep as 16 inches, well deeper than bamboo rhizomes.

Bypass loppers should be enough to get rid of the stuff on the inside of the barrier, but you may still need the bamboo spade in order to get out the thicker stuff so you can replace it with flowers or whatever you would intend to have instead.

Here is a link that might be useful: steel broad fork

1 Like    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 12:39AM
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I agree with the original poster and feel giving this person a tough time for not wanting to contain or replant the bamboo is unjustified.

I bought a house recently with two patches of clumping bamboo. While it is contained nicely, I will be removing it. The reason is I do not want the maintenance to upkeep the bamboo clusters.

It grows faster than a weed and I have been pruning 50-60% of each clump about every 2 months. It grows back just as full and tall in those two months between pruning. The maintainence to keep it at a good size takes me about 1/2 a day every couple months. I have better uses of my time. That 1/2 day time involves chopping down taller stakes, thinning it out and then cutting up the clippings small enough to fit in my curb-side yard debris bin (which it more then fills, leaving me room for nothing else that needs to go in there also). It is because of this high maintenance that I will dig it out soon.

If you live near Portland, OR and want some clumping bamboo, please message me and you can have it when I dig it up. :)

1 Like    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 12:53PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

If you are having to prune back your plants every two months only to have them grow back just as don't have bamboo. Bamboo typically only sends up new growth once a year, and never replaces something that has been pruned off. I live in the PNW, too, and none of my bamboo grow like you describe.

There are several plants, such as Japanese knotweed or certain large grasses, that people sometimes confuse with bamboo. Please post a picture here and maybe we can figure out what you have that's such a big job to maintain.

1 Like    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 1:05PM
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kudzu9. Its clumping bamboo. I'll get you a picture later on. New shoots don't come from the ground too often, but the shoots already there grow several feet a month (in all but winter) and thicken out with leaves. The taller ones are the ones I cut back to near the ground, next the shorter ones grow taller, its a cycle.

I did a major prune back last weekend (Nov 2). The last time before was maybe mid-July. So maybe it is every 3-4 months I need to trim them. I have lived in the house 9 months and had three major pruning sessions :)

1 Like    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 1:31PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

OregonEd- I definitely want to see it. I have a number of clumping bamboos at my current location and have never had to prune any of them back in the 8 years I've lived here. Some people would love to have your problem!

1 Like    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 1:44PM
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That does not sound like a clumping bamboo at all, but I also would like to see a picture of it.

How tall is it?

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 8:14PM
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kudzu9 and Kentuck-
Attached is the only picture available, from Jan last year before I moved in. Bamboo is on the right - this is one of two clumps. I can get more detailed pictures on the weekend. It is too dark now after work.

It grows from 10-15' tall, give or take. Tall enough to flop over some and shade out more area than I like.

Thanks -Ed

This post was edited by OregonEd on Tue, Nov 5, 13 at 21:33

1 Like    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 9:25PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Thanks for posting the picture. Ok...that picture is good enough to convince me you have bamboo, although I can't tell what species...maybe a Fargesia or a Bambusa. I see you have a tight space there, so I can understand your concern about flopping over. It would be easy to keep it erect by just passing a piece of twine or fishing line around the front and attaching it to the fence. But, if you are also concerned about too much shading, then pruning is the only solution.

Well, you know the old saying: a weed is just a plant growing in the wrong location. If you are getting rid of it, you should have no problems finding someone to take a beautiful, healthy clumper off your hands.

1 Like    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 9:43PM
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The tight space is misleading because of the odd camera angle. You are seeing part of the smaller clump. This picture was taken during the home inspection to show the general side area looking back along a patio wall. 180 degrees around and it is more open. The second, larger clump is much bigger and has more area around it.

I will post something on Craigslist when I dig it up later. I'm just not a fan of the way it looks, plus having to trim it. Also it tends to shed leaves a lot, which may or may not be normal.

I'm sure the previous owners liked the bamboo though.

I'd rather have some evergreen shrubs or small trees in that location. I will probably end up putting a couple of pineapple guavas there.

Thanks for the postings and replies :-)

1 Like    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 10:02PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

If I lived closer, I'd dig it out for you!

1 Like    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 10:14PM
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Kind of looks like one of the Bambusas.

I would do as Kudzu said, either tie a string around the front and then to the fence, or just wrap all the culms together with a strong string or rope.

It is an evergreen and looks really nice for Oregon climate. Are you in southern Oregon, close to the California border?

1 Like    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 10:30PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

Indeed, you could remove it yourself with help from the great bamboo growers on this forum, and then just sell it on eBay, or give it away on craigslist. I'd choose eBay. After all, buyer pays shipping too. It's just too beautiful to kill it...

1 Like    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 7:10PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

As the culms look dark and it has a tendency to bend over into the way it is probably Phyllostachys nigra. This is a running bamboo, like many of the other running bamboos tending to be more diffuse - and in this case eventually much taller - than clumping bamboos that are grown in this region.

Whether it is P. nigra (very likely) or another species it is definitely a Phyllostachys and not a Fargesia or other clumping bamboo.

1 Like    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 12:45AM
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Bamboo lovers here will be glad to know both clumps of bamboo now have new homes. One clump was about 50 lbs and the second maybe 200 lbs. I spent several weekends with a shovel, pick and recip saw removing them.

Of course the previous owners who planted it did not put in root barriers. Runners had spend under the fence to my neighbors yard. I had to install a barrier to prevent it from coming back.

Overall, it was a ton of work I never want to do again, but glad it is gone and being replanted where someone will enjoy it.

1 Like    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 12:05PM
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