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Is there a way to keep bamboo out?
May 15, 2006 4:57 AM   Subscribe

Help us keep bamboo from invading our yard.

We just got our first house, and we love it. There's only one major problem: the people who live behind us (our backyards back up to each other) have a massive forest of bamboo in their backyard--we cannot even see their house, the bamboo is so thick.

The bamboo is TALL--it is brushing all of the overhead lines, except the highest (the power lines) and there is a six foot wooden fence separating our yards. Much of the bamboo is already hanging over the fence, and new sprouts are coming up in our backyard in various places. We've been cutting them down as we can, but they are coming right back, and bringing friends.

We are anxious to keep this bamboo from taking over our yard, but obviously there isn't anything we can do about the existing bamboo--as it isn't on our property.

Has anyone had any success with containing bamboo and keeping it from invading your yard?
posted by saucy to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
 
From the looks of it you have bamboo rhizomes (bamboo root nodes) growing under your fence and sprouting in your yard. The first thing you need to do is dig a trench at least three feet deep right on your side of the fence-line. Next, install a plastic barrier.

High density polyethylene or high density polypropylene 40-60 mil. is commonly use. A vinyl carpet runner from Home Depot won't work. The rhizomes will penetrate it. Install the barrier so that the top is tilted away from the bamboo and be certain that 3-4 inches of the barrier is above ground. If it is not above ground the rhizomes can go hop over it.

Lastly, you'll need to find the rhizomes and dig them out.
posted by Alison at 5:08 AM on May 15, 2006


I don't have any experience with bamboo but this is one way.
posted by lemhuxley at 5:19 AM on May 15, 2006


my parents had 2 patches of some type of bamboo in their yard during my childhood. it was not the "classic" bamboo - the shoots were really weak and easy to break off when fully grown and/or dried out. but anyway, it exhibited the same spreading behavior. but the patches never got bigger, just due to regular lawn moving. if that patch of bamboo has been there for a while, the previous homeowners of your house probably just mowed the sprouts, and that kept the rhizomes from doing their spreading job. i wouldn't worry - unless it starts to outpace what you can mow - then the trench and barrier might be in order..
posted by chr1sb0y at 5:25 AM on May 15, 2006


I've lived with this problem for 16 years. While Alison's solution is doubtless the most effective and long-term, there is another. Bamboo's incursions are seasonal, at least in Maryland, lasting only from early May to mid June.

Every Saturday during its annual Spring Offensive, I prune and remove every new shoot, which, before they develop a woody stem, are easy to cut or even break off. If you've got them, small children will be quite happy being paid a penny a shoot for this job. (BTW, I discard them in a plastic bag in my trash, not with my garden waste. The bamboo, that is. The children I kept.)

You've got to stay on top of it, but for my yard, this minor chore only takes about 15 minutes or so for just four to six week during the year.
posted by mojohand at 5:37 AM on May 15, 2006


Responsible bamboo-planting neighbors, IMO, would have planted in an appropriately lined trench originally. I would bring the topic up, politely, with your neighbors -- maybe they lined the trench and the rhizomes got though anyway? Or maybe they didn't know better at the time. Or maybe the bamboo was already there when they bought their house.

Regardless, it should not have to be your job to keep your neighbor's invasive species off of your property every spring -- it should be theirs.
posted by misterbrandt at 6:53 AM on May 15, 2006


maybe the bamboo was already there when they bought their house.

Regardless, it should not have to be your job to keep your neighbor's invasive species off of your property every spring -- it should be theirs.


I'm not following this logic. I don't like oak trees. My neighbor has one that hangs over my yard. Should I ask him to somehow abate the acorns his tree drops on my property? Or should I send my other neighbor a bill for the weed killer I have to apply to my lawn when dandelion seeds leave his property and sprout in mine?

Somehow, I don't think I'd get very far with either of those efforts.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:01 AM on May 15, 2006


Kirth, I would ask the neighbors about it too -- anyone doing research today on planting bamboo would notice right away that the spreading varieties (there are also some clumping varieties that don't spread as vigorously) have to be contained and there are lots of products to help with that (like the plastic). The neighbors might not even know and want to help, but maybe they know and don't care -- either way, it's worth asking just to see what they say. Digging a plastic barrier into a neighboring yard seems kind of silly when they could contain it at the source on their side.
posted by mathowie at 12:29 PM on May 15, 2006


Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember seeing a program on TV (in Japan) about this same problem, and in it they said that bamboo tries to spread out when the original forest is too thick (dense, like you say in your post) for the sunlight to reach the ground. It's a kind of survival thing for them, so once the main cluster is thinned out enough, it stops trying to spread out. So that's one thing you might want to talk to your neighbors about.
BTW, you can boil and eat bamboo shoots. Mmm.
posted by misozaki at 4:11 PM on May 15, 2006


Should I ask him to somehow abate the acorns his tree drops on my property?

Oaks aren't a known invasive species. Whoever planted the bamboo without lining the hole did so irresponsibly, and should be accountable for their actions. (easily googled bamboo-planting instructions here and here)
posted by misterbrandt at 7:43 PM on May 15, 2006


I'm not following this logic. I don't like oak trees. My neighbor has one that hangs over my yard. Should I ask him to somehow abate the acorns his tree drops on my property? Or should I send my other neighbor a bill for the weed killer I have to apply to my lawn when dandelion seeds leave his property and sprout in mine?

Bamboos an invasive and may be a noxious weed in your state in which case you can report your neighbour and they will have to prevent it spreading themselves.

Do they have Pampas Grass too? I bet they do.
posted by fshgrl at 9:59 PM on May 15, 2006


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