Clumping bamboo removal using tractor?

humbll(8)October 29, 2012

I have several clumps of alphonse karr clumping bamboo, and i want to divide it. Is there an easy way, like using my tractor and a chain to pull out little 1 or 2 foot chunks of it so i can transplant them? any tricks or tips appreciated.

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humbll(8)

my thinking is to wrap a good chain or rope around several culms and tie off to the tractor and yank....

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 11:44PM
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gardener1(6)

The easiest way is to sawzall it into clumps 1st and then get your shovel under it and pop it out it will sound like youre unzipping it.I think if you pull it out with a chain it would hurt it pretty bad. Its best to dig out. If your going to use the chain or rope method dig aroound it 1st and then it will come out alot easier.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 11:52PM
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humbll(8)

yes, i have successfully sawsalled clumps of it out and used the shovel method, but it is so labor intensive. It is difficult to get the sawsall in amidst the culms to effectively cut at any great depth. i don't really care too much if it gets damaged, but lives...

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 1:04AM
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kentuck_8b(__)

I use an Ames 4" Chopping Scraper. I've used an ax and a sawzall before but my knees and back aren't what they used to be and I can use the Scraper while standing upright. The hardest part is picking up the rootball. The sawzall can be messy and the ax can take good aim and a lot of work but since the ax is thick, it gets caught a lot in the rhizomes.

I dig or cut a circle around the selected culms that I want in the division using a shovel and when I hit a thick rhizome, I use the Chopping scraper. Even thicker rhizomes that are over 2 inches thick can be cut with as few as three good chops.

You can buy one at Home Depot for about $16 if I remember correctly.

Kt

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 9:32PM
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humbll(8)

perhaps i will give that a try. pulling out a clump after its cut should be easy with my tractor...

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 1:12AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

humbll-
I'll be interested in what you have to report after you try this. In my experience with taking dozens of divisions, unless you have a discrete clump where the inground rhizomes have been severed, just trying to yank it out of the ground will be a disaster, at least in terms of having anything you want to save afterwards. Wrapping a chain around the culms and pulling will destroy the culms, and I question that you will even be able to get a decent root ball out of the ground. When I take divisions, I use a bamboo spade, which is a steel shovel that weighs about 20 pounds with a slide hammer weight mounted on the handle. You chop down about 10"-12" deep all around the root ball and then pop it out. Only takes a couple of minutes, but the shovel costs about $175. However, since I want to get out divisions that aren't damaged and can be sold or traded, it's paid for itself many times over.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bamboo spade

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 3:41AM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

Dad has a "stump bucket" for his skid loader and we use that to dig it. we dig down at the corner of the clump to make a hole, then get the bucket under the roots and push up and pull up a corner of the plant, and then when we get it out of the ground a little bit, take some big lopper type pruners to cut it free. Once you get a big chunk cut free,you can use the bucket to drag it out of the hole and backfill the hole with soil. then you can put up the skid loader and then use the pruners to cut the root ball into chunks and pot them up or replant.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 7:34AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

sandy-
That sounds like a better better bamboo removal approach than using chains to yank on it. However, the OP has clumping bamboo and it sounds like what you have taken out is running bamboo. The roots of a clumper are dense and typically form a compact, circular, solid mass, whereas runners have numerous roots that fan out in all directions making it easier to cut through individual ones. Your approach may still work, but the severing will pose more of a challenge. I'll be interested to hear how this all turns out.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 12:34PM
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gardener1(6)

Kudzu9 So the Bamboo Spade is really worth the money? Considering I have at least 50 broken shovels I could have bought 2. Guess what I'm asking for for Christmas!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 9:57AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

gardener1-
I've had mine for 5 years and it's still going strong. If you would have told me years ago that I'd spend that amount on a shovel, I would have thought you were crazy. I'm notoriously cheap, but, after using one that a friend had, I was sold in 2 minutes. It's not only perfect for bamboo, but I've used it to take out and/or divide other plants with large rootballs like mature clumps of daylilies and grasses. I loaned it to a neighbor who had struggled for a couple of hours to get out an overgrown pampas grass, and we was able to get it out in about 5 minutes with the bamboo spade.

One tip: even though it's built like a tank, I still take care to make sure everything is pretty much severed so that the prying part is not a strain on me and the shovel. I'm not sure that you would be able to bend or even break the shovel by prying, but I don't abuse it either. Usually I bring a demolition bar along to help with prying if I am taking out a particularly large division.

So, yes, I'm sold on it. It's saved me countless hours, as well as turning some nasty, difficult digging jobs into something that's not a big deal. It's actually fun to use, and I've had friends who bought one tell me it's the best garden tool they ever bought.

If you get one, let me know what you think.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 3:27PM
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gardener1(6)

Kudzu9 Oh Yeah I'll be getting one. I've been wanting one just couldnt see spending that much for a shovel. Is the shovel all one solid piece of steel? that sounds too sweet my back will love it.Hopefully it'll be the last shovel I'll ever need.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 12:07AM
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miketropic

just curious why no one uses a sawz all..thats what I use with a nice steel shovel fiberglass handle and never have any problems. I don't grow enough bamboo to spend that much on a shovel

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 2:07AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

The shovel blade is 10 gauge steel (more than 1/8" thick) that is welded to a tubular steel handle that is also at least 10 gauge. Then there is a second piece: a solid steel cylindrical weight that slides inside the center of the shovel handle. Each of the two pieces weighs 8-9 lbs.

You don't actually "dig" with this shovel. You rest the business end on the ground where you want to chop down, and then you lift the weight and keep slamming it down like a slide hammer. Depending on how hard the soil is, it might take anywhere from 3-10 blows to sink the blade of the shovel all the way down into the ground. Then you pull it out, move it to the next location, and repeat. It usually takes me no more than 5 minutes to chop around a bamboo and remove the division. Here is what the two pieces of the shovel look like, and what it looks like assembled.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 2:20AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

miketropic-
A Sawzall paired with a shovel and demo bar is the way I used to do it. However, I was chewing through a lot of expensive blades, sometimes breaking or bending a shovel, and it was taking too long. I also occasionally wanted to dig bamboo where there was no nearby power source. Because of the amount of use I get out of the shovel and the time it saves, it's economical for me. However, your approach is a good one if you aren't digging often. Just don't use one of these shovels or you might end up being tempted to buy one!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 2:29AM
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kentuck_8b(__)

If you can weld you could make one. I have the material and a welder but never got around to making one and since I bought the Chopping Scraper, it is all I need for what I do. It is very sharp and I doubt if the handle can be broke.

I have to agree though with Kudzu, the bamboo spade is probably the best tool for ease of use out there. The only difference between it and the chopping scraper that I have, is that I have to chomp down with the whole tool rather than the sliding bar as on the bamboo spade.

Kt

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 2:17PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Kentuc
I've used the type of chopper you describe and they work pretty well. However, you have to be able to land repetitive blows in the same spot...and I'm marginal in that ability! The advantage of the bamboo spade with the sliding handle is that you don't have to be accurate since the blade sits in one place and just keeps getting driven in.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 2:57PM
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kentuck_8b(__)

Yes, I agree.

My 'aim' is still pretty good though, and I usually am dividing bamboo in 'soft' soil so I don't have to chop from a long distance, but the bamboo spade defintely will give a cleaner cut rhizome which is always desireable. I would surely have one if I did more dividing and in tougher soil.

Kt

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 3:11PM
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miketropic

well I work in a steel mill and one of our sister plants stamps out shovel heads :-) I'm thinking about trying my hand at making one of these with some "fringe benfits" from work.might plant a culm or 2 in the front of the place to give a little back lol

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 11:47PM
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humbll(8)

I have decided to get one of these Bamboo Slammers. In their description it says it is best for dense masses of roots and rhizomes, which is what i have to work with.

Here is a link that might be useful: bamboo garden

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 7:39PM
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botanicalbill(9b SWFlorida)

Just to throw my 2c at you. I have tried the shovel and ax method, if you want a good workout, go for it. I live in Florida and unless I do this at the crack of dawn, its too hot for me.
This past year I picked up a sawzall at harbor freight for $19 bucks with a coupon. I bought a one foot blade for the saw. I sawed into the ground around the clump that I wanted to divide (Asian lemon). After that I stuck a shovel in my saw lines and the division poped right out of the ground, well a little force was needed. I wouldn't divide any other way.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 2:58PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

botanicalbill-
Glad that works for you...wish it did for me. I suspect we have much different soils. Mine is glacial till with hard clay and lots of rocks. I just was chewing up too many blades every time I started doing more than one division.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 9:41PM
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humbll(8)

i have done the sawsall and shovel years ago, but it is very difficult. i am going to give the device pictured above a try, or the one like it at http://www.theslammer.co.nz/
which is $285 shipped to me.

Here is a link that might be useful: bamboo slammer

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 5:34PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

humbll-
Thanks for the link...great video on that web site. It's an interesting design variation on the slammer I have that I got in the U.S. from MidAtlantic Bamboo in the U.S. I'm looking forward to a user review once you've given it a workout.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 6:50PM
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