Bamboo spreading

How To Stop Bamboo From Spreading

Are you tired of bamboo taking over your yard? Learn how to stop it from spreading with these effective techniques.

Key Takeaways

  • Installing a root barrier around the desired area is the most effective way to prevent bamboo rhizomes from spreading.
  • Regular pruning during spring or early summer helps to keep bamboo growth contained within a specific area.
  • Root pruning techniques, such as severing rhizomes or cutting through roots, can further confine bamboo growth.
  • Implementing chemical control is a method of last resort to stop bamboo from spreading.

Two Types of Bamboo: Clumping and Running

There are two types of bamboo plants: clumping bamboo and running bamboo.  The categories describe the growth form of the plant and is the main indicator of a particular species inclination to spread.  

Clumping Bamboo

Clumping bamboo grows in a relatively tight cluster.  While it will incrementally expand, it tends to reamin naturally contained. The rhizomes of clumping bamboo grow in a circular or oval pattern, radiating outwards from the center of the clump. As the clump expands, new shoots emerge from the rhizomes near the outer edge. Over time, this expansion can result in a wider clump, but it remains contained within a relatively small area.

The natural containment of clumping bamboo reduces the need for extensive containment measures. It is less likely to invade neighboring areas or encroach on other plants, making it easier to manage and control.

Running Bamboo

In contrast to clumping bamboo, the rhizomes of runnning bamboo extends laterally underground. These rhizomes can then send up new shoots some distance from the existing plant. And that can be a pattern that repeats so that shoots can pop up further and further away. 

The Key Principle to Stop Bamboo Spreading

To stop bamboo from spreading, it is important to determine the perimeter of the desired area for the bamboo and implement measures to prevent rhizome expansion. 

The key principle is to contain expansion of the rhizome. There are several ways to do this, which are summarised in the following table and discussed in more detail below.

Containment StrategyDescription
Root BarrierInstalling underground barriers to restrict rhizome growth
Pruning/MowingRegularly pruning or mowing down new shoots to prevent them from growing
DiggingPhysically digging out rhizomes and removing them from the ground
Chemical ControlApplying herbicides selectively to control the spread of bamboo

Root Barriers to Stop Bamboo from Spreading

The effectiveness of root barriers (also called ‘rhizome barriers’) in stopping bamboo from spreading has been widely debated.

When it comes to containing the growth of bamboo, especially clumping bamboo, using a root barrier can be an effective solution. 

Installing a root barrier invovles digging a trench around the desired growing area and placing a sturdy rhizome sheet made of high-density polyethylene or metal. These materials create an impenetrable underground ‘fence’ to confine the bamboo from further spreading.  This will effectively block the spread of new shoots and growth beyond the designated area, keeping your garden or yard free from unwanted bamboo invasion.

Ideally, installing a root barrier is something done at the initial time of planting your bamboo. This preventative approach can be much easier than installation at a later time. Check out this quick and easy root barrier technique:

Pruning and Mowing to Stop Bamboo from Spreading

Pruning new shoots as they emerge from the ground can be an effective method for controlling and stopping bamboo from spreading. By repeatedly cutting new shoots, you are limiting the plant’s ability to gather energy and nutrients through photosynthesis. This weakens the rhizome system over time, making it more susceptible to control measures.

Here’s how it can be an effective method:

1. Early detection: By regularly inspecting your bamboo plantation, you can identify and spot new shoots as they emerge. It is crucial to catch them early before they grow and spread further.

2. Cutting technique: Use sharp pruning shears or a saw to cut the new shoots as close to the ground as possible. Make a clean cut to prevent any damage to the main rhizome system or other plant parts.

3. Regular monitoring: Continuously monitor the area for any new shoots that may emerge. 

Note that relying on this method requires vigilence and pruning new shoots can be a labor-intensive task, especially if you have a large bamboo plot. If the surrounding environment permits (e.g. lawn areas), use of a lawn mower can be an effective way to implement this approach.

Digging and Root Pruning to Control Bamboo Spread

One effective, but potentially labor intensive strategy to consider is physcially digging up and pruning the rhizomes. By cutting the roots of the bamboo plant, you can stop it from spreading uncontrollably and invading other areas.

This is often the best initial step when bamboo has already spread beyond the desired area. An initial digging and root pruning will bring it back to an acceptable area. To then prevent a recurrence of the spread, this is the best time to install a root barrier. 

If the spread and age of the growth is significant a mechanical means of digging and pruning the rhizome may be the most effective and efficient approach. 

Utilizing Chemical Control Measures

Using chemical control measures, such as herbicides, can be an effective way to manage the growth of bamboo in your yard. 

Next, choose a suitable herbicide like glyphosate that is effective at killing bamboo. Apply the herbicide directly onto the leaves or use a sprayer for larger areas. It’s crucial to follow the instructions on the product label for application and safety guidelines.

Using chemicals is generally recommended as a method of last resort.  It is not without risk to the whole of the bamboo plant as treatment may cause the plant to compeletely die. Also, there is a risk to surrounding plants if they are accidentally exposed to the chemical.

Professional Assistance for Bamboo Control

If you’ve tried chemical control measures but still can’t stop bamboo from spreading, it may be time to seek professional assistance for bamboo control. While planting bamboo can create a beautiful and serene atmosphere, its rapid growth and invasive nature can quickly turn your garden into a wild bamboo grove.

If the above methods sound too challenging, or your bamboo spread is too far gone, hiring a professional gardener or landscape contractor may be the most effective way forward.


In conclusion, stopping bamboo from spreading requires a combination of planning, effort and diligence.  

If you are considering pllanting bamboo in your garden, then choosing a clumping rather than running type of bamboo is a great first step.

However, following one or more of the methods above will help you successfully prevent bamboo from spreading uncontrollably.