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I curse the people who planted bamboo here

Posted by manifest USDA 11a, Sunset 24, (My Page) on
Sun, Jun 10, 12 at 15:18

For any bamboo lovers, please pardon the ranty title of this post. Hopefully after reading this post, you'll understand why.

We just bought a house a few months ago with a major fixer-upper of a back yard. Giant bamboo was planted between our concrete patio and the fence for privacy. This bamboo has grown through the fence rails and is now on the neighbor's side of the fence:

Planted between fence & patio

I have no idea what type of bamboo this is, so if I could get some help with an ID, I'd appreciate it. Not sure if it's a running or clumping variety. It gets TALL - about 30' tall:

Bamboo id?

And some of the stalks get about 3" in diameter. Here's one with a soda can for scale:

Bamboo stalk vs soda can

The stalks change from green to gold as they mature.


Over the past 2 months, I've been cutting down both new and older culms and painting concentrated Round Up on the cut surface. It's unbelievable to me that new branches are still emerging from the nodes. I thought it would be best to cut the culms as close to the ground as possible, but now that I'm seeing new branches emerge, I'll cut them higher up from the ground.

Stalks emerging from cut culms

This culm also looks like it has scale growing on the bottoms of the stalks. I was always under the impression that bamboo was immune to pests and bacteria, so I was surprised to find scale on the bottom of it. I don't plan on treating it since I'm getting rid of the bamboo. But should I be worried about scale infecting nearby plants that we're growing?


We had to dig up a younger stand of this bamboo that was planted in our yard further away from the fence. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the hole that my husband had to dig to remove the rhizomes for 5 stalks of bamboo was 6' wide and 4' deep. It's going to be challenging trying to dig up all this bamboo by the fence, as it's in such a tight area. The bamboo has established itself such that you can't even get a shovel in between the culms due to the tough roots.

I know that backhoes have been suggested for removal of bamboo, but considering the tightness of the area that the bamboo is planted in, does anybody have any other suggestions for how we can begin removal? We do plan on replacing the fence in the next year, but we're hoping to try to take care of as much bamboo removal as possible prior to tearing down the fence. Will this even be possible? Another photo for reference:

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: I curse the people who planted bamboo here

That is a clumping bamboo, probably Bambusa oldhamii, but a Bambusa none-the-less.

If it were a runner, then you might have a reason to curse the previous owners, but if you are looking to get completely rid of it, first, I'd try selling it since it can be quite pricey if purchased in pots. Second, simply cutting the new growth to the ground as soon as it emerges will completely kill off the plant but it may take a few weeks to a few months of diligent cutting to complete the process.

I like the area it is planted in since it was obviously planted to block the neighbours view into your yard.

New culms can be simply knocked down as they emerge to keep the plants in check.

Nice bamboo.


RE: I curse the people who planted bamboo here

  • Posted by manifest USDA 11a, Sunset 24, (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 11, 12 at 13:17

You're more than welcome to come by and take this bamboo...for free, Kt! It only looks decent now because I've thinned it out considerably by 2/3. The bamboo made this area really dark and it felt smaller. There were culms growing right up against the edge of the concrete and leaning into the patio. We also had to constantly sweep up the dead leaves.

We've been told by several people to sell it, as well, but I've no idea how we would be able to do so. You simply can't get a transplant shovel in between the culms. A neighbor jokingly mentioned using a jackhammer, but I'm beginning to entertain that thought more seriously.

I also forgot to mention: we have drain pipes under the concrete patio about 6'-8' away from where the bamboo is planted. After we moved in, we had to snake these pipes for a clog. Guess what we found in that clog? Toilet paper caught up in bamboo roots...

RE: I curse the people who planted bamboo here

I'd gladly come dig some if you were in Texas and not California...too far to drive.

I dig divisions using a very sharp shovel or similar sharpened spade. The culms are connected underground so you will be chopping them apart.

I dig individual culms and top them at around 4 feet. I put them in pots for a few months then they can be sold for anywhere from $25 to $50 depending on variety and plant/pot size. You have about 20 culms there alone, not counting what you have already cut down, and some may not survive transplanting, so you have a little money there, but if you've never done it before, it may be too much work for you.

It takes me 15 to 20 minutes to dig a culm up that size and pot it.

If you do not want it there, simply cut it down to ground level and cut away any new leaves or branches or new shoots as soon as they appear...about 10 minutes each day, max. The plant will die and rot quickly making it easy to remove.

Good Luck


RE: I curse the people who planted bamboo here

I can tell you a fairly easy way to dig it out first get a reciprocating saw(sawsall) and cut down deep into the rootball cutting it into small sections then simply lift out with a shovel or prybar. I've used this method many times and it works well. And its pretty easy.

RE: I curse the people who planted bamboo here

  • Posted by manifest USDA 11a, Sunset 24, (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 16, 12 at 14:58

Kt, 15 - 20 min is good time for transplanting bamboo. Your response gave me a thought about perhaps posting in the California forum to see if anybody in my area would want to come to try and dig this up for themselves. Couldn't hurt, could it? It is nice bamboo and all we're doing is cutting it down and putting it into the yard waste bins. It's unfortunate that it's not the right kind for the tight space it's growing in.

gardener1, I'll have to try using a reciprocating saw. I've been using it to cut down the culms, but never considered using it to cut into the rootball. Great idea. Hopefully I'll find some blades that are long enough to do the trick.

Many thanks for the feedback, everyone.

RE: I curse the people who planted bamboo here

In which part of California do you live? If close enough to me, I might take some of it.

And, yes, I use a combination of a sawzall, spade, and digging bar.

RE: I curse the people who planted bamboo here

  • Posted by manifest USDA 11a, Sunset 24, (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 20, 12 at 18:52

I'm in southern Caifornia, in the LA area.

RE: I curse the people who planted bamboo here

Bummer, I'm in the SF Bay Area, too for me to drive. But the other suggestions are good...either go for the slow kill via starvation by killing all the culms, or get out the sawzall if you want to rip it out now.

RE: I curse the people who planted bamboo here

Watchnerd: if you're interested in some free 20' tall black bamboo, let me know! I'm in Vallejo.

RE: I curse the people who planted bamboo here

That clump could be removed in one hour with a sawzall and an experienced bambooist.

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