Today, however, we know that running bamboo is a no-no for Houston landscapes, because it will reproduce and take over an entire area. It’s also hard to remove, much less eradicate. Clumping bamboo is also a chore to get rid of, just not as difficult to purge as running bamboo.
After doling out gardening advice for more than 25 years, I’ve pretty much found the best method for bamboo control or eradication. I wrote a piece about it for the website around 14 years ago, but the bad news is it seems to have disappeared. The good news is I get to rewrite it here and make sure we cover everything.
I have found that there is really no chemical control that will be effective on an existing stand of bamboo. Herbicides may burn up the leaves, but they can’t penetrate that hard outer layer, so they fail at getting into the vascular system of the plant.
So, excavation is the best control. But who can bring a backhoe into a residential yard and get it all dug out? There are pickaxes and shovels, of course, but that’s excruciating, back-breaking work. Cutting it down to ground level with super-sharp loppers and axes might be the next best option, but you know it’ll will come roaring back if you stop there.
So, here’s where the ultimate control procedure comes in. After cutting it down to the ground, cover what remains with heavy black plastic, plywood, thick cloth, or a tarp and anchor it securely. The covering should be firmly locked in place. Leave the area totally covered for a minimum of six months. With no sunshine for that period, the stumps and roots will rot away.