Bamboo removal is an extremely labor intensive process. Although anyone can attempt removal the job is best left to train professionals. The uninitiated my attempt bamboo removal through chemicals or fire which will do nothing to slow the plant down.
To understand bamboo removal we must first understand bamboo. Originally a Japanese word bamboo means “the giant grass”. This means that like grass bamboo has a much more shallow root structure than other plants that grow to the same height. Bamboo generally only goes two to three feet down under ground. However it can run as far in any direction as the plant is tall. These runners are all connected underground to the main mother plant. So when we perform removal we need to follow all these running roots, called rhizomes, to their terminus away from the mother plant.
Typical removal jobs require hand tools such as axes, shovels, picks, 8 foot pry bar, etc. Our heavier damage equipment includes a slam bar that is basically a sharp spade with a heavy metal bar in the shaft that can be slammed down to perform a cut of the bamboo roots. And finally we do sometimes need to bring in a backhoe and a stump grinder for the most challenging of jobs.
When you want to keep your bamboo but not perform yearly root maintenance installation of a rhizome root barrier is an option. Many people make ill advised attempts at using metal, wood, or concrete to slow down the underground roots. But all of these decompose over time. The concrete will crack and the bamboo will find a way out.
The best option is High Density Polyethylene Plastic or HDPE. This comes in 40, 60, and 80 millimeter thickness. Although it is rare we have seen the lower thicknesses fail in the past so we always suggest going with the 80 mm thickness. They also come in 24 inch or 30 inch depths. The cost is negligible so again we suggest going with the higher level 30 inch deep barrier.
First you need to dig a trench as wide as a shovel around the entire area you wish to contain. It should be a few inches more shallow than your barrier as you want the barrier to stick above ground a few inches so the roots can not jump over the top. Then you put the barrier into the hole and you use a seam kit to fasten the ends together. Lastly you backfill the dirt making sure to tamp it as you go so you don’t get any air pockets in the dirt which could help the bamboo to escape.