How to Remove Bamboo
By Jennifer Holmes

How to Remove Bamboo

In this article we’ll explain what Bamboo is, why it’s an increasingly costly problem for the UK, and how to remove it. There are over 1,000 species of Bamboo (subfamily Bambusoideae). Some creep along the ground only a few inches tall, others soar freestanding to over 100 feet. Some grow in tight clumps, others in open groves. Some even clamber up trees.

Running Bamboo
Clumping Bamboo

Where did Bamboo come from?

The diversity of species is perhaps not too surprising when one considers the many environments in which they have evolved. Indigenous Bamboos are widely found throughout Asia, Africa, Australia, and North and South America, Europe and of course the UK. They have evolved to fill a variety of ecological niches, ranging from tropical lowland to alpine highland, from rain forest to dry chaparral, and from acid to alkaline soils.

But it’s the highly invasive nature of the Bamboos that are problematic as they are fast-growing, hardy plants that can be difficult to remove. So, if you need to remove it completely from your property, this article will give you an idea of how it’s done.

What type of bamboo have you got?

It is important to be aware of the type of Bamboo you are dealing with, as this will impact the removal process. Bamboo comes in two main types – clumping and running – easily distinguished by their height and stem. Clumping can grow up to 2ft high however running can grow up to 1.5 metres high, so if your Bamboo is well established it should be easy to spot which type you have – if it’s over 2ft it’s probably running. The other way is to look at the stems as clumping has perfectly round stems whilst running have ridged stems.

Still not sure?

If you are unsure about how to correctly identify which type of Bamboo you have or are concerned it is best to consult with a specialist contractor or use our online identification service. A Bamboo removal specialist will have the knowledge and expertise to identify the type of bamboo and provide advice on the best method for removal.

Why does bamboo need to removed?

Bamboo definitely needs to be controlled. The worst offenders are running types, which have large networks of roots and rhizomes (plant stems that grow horizontally underground). Bamboo’s rhizomes are capable of spreading up to 30ft (10 metres), and if left unchecked and untreated, they can invade neighbouring gardens (as shown in the picture) and even pose a threat to the foundations of houses.

It may come as a surprise to find that Bamboo is not classed as an invasive species in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and there are currently no restrictions on planting it, however, encroachment cases are becoming more common in the UK with many homeowners taking legal action against neighbours who have allowed their Bamboo to spread.

Bamboo left to grow in the wild will take over large swathes of land. If it is not removed it will harm the natural habitat, both flora and fauna.

Running Bamboo can quickly spread over fields or private land, and once it has taken hold with its underground root system it can be extremely difficult to eradicate with excavation being the best option.

Bamboo breaking through patio

Why use a specialist to remove bamboo?

The most effective way to remove Bamboo is to work with a specialist contractor. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Bamboo removal specialists have the knowledge and expertise to remove it safely and effectively from your property. They understand the diverse types of Bamboo and the best methods for removing them without damaging your property.
  2. Bamboo removal requires specialised equipment that most homeowners do not have. A specialist contractor will have the right tools and equipment to get the job done quickly and efficiently. On rural estates and commercial property this can also be the case.
  3. Removing Bamboo is a time-consuming and labour-intensive process. By working with a specialist contractor, you can save yourself the time and effort of trying to remove the bamboo yourself. Plus – you may not have removed it all and it will grow back.
  4. Running Bamboo can cause legal issues if it encroaches onto a neighbour’s property. A specialist contractor will be aware of the legal requirements and regulations surrounding bamboo removal and will be able to identify whether the Bamboo has spread onto another property.

What bamboo removal methods are effective?

Below are a few of the most effective methods of treatment or removal, although this is just an overview, as each method has its own requirements depending on the size of the plant and location on the site.

Herbicide Control (stem fill) involves cutting the bamboo down but leaving enough stem to then inject it or spray into it with herbicide, which works its way down the stem into the root system.

Energy depletion involves cutting the canes to ground level before new leaf appears, and repeating the process for many years. This is done in the hope that the energy reserves are depleted in the root/rhizome system sufficiently to stop or stunt further growth.

Containment of Bamboo uses vertical root barrier membranes to stop it spreading further. Usually this method involves thinning it our first to make the vegetation mass less dense.

Excavation of the root ball and rhizome network means all plant material is completely removed by digging them out, either manually (if the root ball is small enough) or using a commercial excavator.

Clumping Bamboo
Bamboo encroachment










Wrapping it Up

Removing bamboo can be a challenging task that is best left to the experts. By working with a specialist contractor, you can ensure that the process is carried out safely and effectively, and in compliance with legal requirements. For anyone considering attempting to remove bamboo yourself, be sure to take the necessary precautions and consider seeking advice from a specialist contractor.

If you’ve been affected by bamboo, either on your property or through encroachment from another property, contact us today for free no obligation advice from our Bamboo Control Specialists, or to book a survey.