Bamboo Roots – How to Control

Bamboo plants are certainly the most amazing plants on the planet! They have some of the most spectacular traits that makes them the world’s best plant.

Bamboo Root Control

To name but a few...

  1. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants
  2. Bamboo canes are flexible but extremely though
  3. Bamboo gives out 30% more oxygen than trees
  4. Bamboo plants can live for up to 120 years
  5. Bamboo is a grass not a tree
  6. Bamboo is so hardy, it survived the radiation of the Hiroshima bombings

So, now that we will never look at bamboo the same way again we thought we would outline two of the best ways to keep these plants in check. The only 2 ways to control bamboo from spreading is root pruning & root barriers.

Root Pruning of Bamboo Plants

This method must be considered when you buy bamboo as root barriers alone will not control bamboo for ever. Root pruning of bamboo should be done twice a year. The process is simple so long as you keep on top of it. Luckily bamboo roots are quite shallow, only growing approx. 5-10cm below the soil surface. This makes pruning bamboo roots easy. The best thing to do is cut the roots back using a sharp garden spade. Cut the root about 60cm away from the main plant

Another option would be to keep a narrow trench about 60cm away from the clump of bamboo plants, then check this trench twice a year and if any roots are protruding outward you can quickly trim them back. The best time to trim or prune bamboo roots is in late Summer & early Autumn

There are 2 things that will make root pruning of bamboo difficult; first would be weed block membrane. If you have weed membrane covering the ground it is very difficult to cut the roots. Spades will not cut through weed membrane so if you do want to use weed block you should leave a channel where pruning roots can be carried out. The second would be gravels & decorative stones under bamboo plants – again these make cutting roots with spades though work.

Root Barriers

The second method for controlling bamboo plants is root barriers and these can be used in conjunction with root pruning. Barriers are ideal for along the back of bamboo plants & in between bamboo plants and solid structures such as walls, houses, fence panels & garden edging.

When using root barriers, you should apply the open sided technique. This involves surrounding the plants on 3 sides with one side left open. This is to allow the vigorous roots to shoot out in one direction as it is nigh on impossible to contain the roots fully with barriers on all four sides.
The side that is left open should then be controlled with root pruning twice yearly. When positioning root barriers you should consider the following things...

  1. Ensure the barrier is about 70cm deep
  2. 10cm above ground level
  3. And the barrier should be 15cm away from the wall / fence posts to prevent damage to them in the long term

With a little bit of care & maintenance there is no reason why you can not enjoy this wonderful garden plant.