Question: I have bamboo that is coming over from a deceased neighbor's yard. The neighbor's yard is becoming overrun by it. Any advice to remedy the problem would be greatly appreciated as I am especially concerned about any immediate threat to the pool structure as I've heard bamboo can penetrate the sides.
Answer: Bamboo is an extremely difficult plant to eradicate once it has be-come established in an area. If not controlled, bamboo will take over your landscape, your neighbor's landscape, adjacent woodlands and nearby streams. The tenacity of bamboos survivability is evident in numerous examples of bamboo runners breaking through concrete driveways and crossing underneath roads, sending up shoots on the other side.
Many different types of bamboo can be found at garden centers, some more invasive than others. Basic-ally, there are two types, creeping and clumping. Clumping types spread at a much slower rate than creeping types.
Creeping bamboo will form an impenetrable thicket of runners or rhizomes that are almost impossible to eradicate.
Containing bamboos with barriers can be effective, to a degree, if certain precautions are taken. First, you should understand the barriers will not stop the runners, only deflect them. Runners grow in the top foot of soil; therefore a barrier must be at least 18 inches deep.
The barrier also should be installed with the top 1 to 2 inches above the soil and slanted outward. Careful inspection of the barrier should be done at least twice per year, with pruning off any emerging shoots.
To effectively remove the bamboo from your yard, it must be a joint effort with your neighbor. Start by removing all top growth. Next remove as much of the root mass as possible. With large infestations, power equipment will be necessary. Any small pieces left in the ground are capable of resuming growth. A follow-up treatment with an herbicide also is necessary.
Only a few herbicides are effective in treating bamboo. A winter application of diclobenil (Casoron or Barrier) combined with summer spot treatments with glyphosate (Roundup) is the recommended chemical control regime. Round-up does not move into the runners effectively so re-applications whenever new sprouts appear are necessary. It will take at least two years of this type of treatment to attain some control.
To those considering planting bamboo, remember the most effective means of control is not to plant this invasive plant. A native alternative to consider would be the Giant Cane, Arundinaria gigantean, which is a well-behaved native bamboo.
Mona Bawgus is a certified master gardener and consumer horticulturist with Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Atlantic County. Write to her c/o Rutgers Cooperative Exten-sion, 6260 Old Harding Highway, Mays Landing, NJ 08330. Email: