Jul 2023

Bamboo, known for its elegance and versatility, has gained popularity among garden enthusiasts for its unique aesthetic appeal. However, despite its alluring qualities, bamboo can also be a formidable invader, spreading rapidly and causing havoc in your garden if not properly managed. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various aspects of bamboo invasion and provide you with effective strategies to tackle this green intruder.

“Today in Great Britain and Ireland, bamboos are a common cause of gardening problems and disputes between neighbours. The environmental threat is also real.”

Quote from Invasive Bamboos by Brian Taylor Jim Glaister and Max Wade


Understanding the Nature of Bamboo Invasion


Before diving into the solutions, it is important to grasp the underlying reasons behind bamboo’s invasive nature. Bamboo belongs to the grass family and possesses a rapid growth rate, capable of surpassing even the most vigorous plants in your garden. Its rhizomatous root system allows it to spread horizontally underground, forming an extensive network that can encroach upon neighbouring areas.


Identifying Invasive Bamboo Species


Not all bamboo species are invasive, so it is crucial to distinguish between those that stay contained and those that tend to overrun your garden. The two main categories are “running” and “clumping” bamboos. Running bamboos, as the name suggests, have a more aggressive growth pattern and can be particularly invasive if left unchecked. Clumping bamboos, on the other hand, have a more compact and contained growth habit, making them easier to manage, but beware that some clumpers, as they mature, can change and become runners.


When selecting bamboo for your garden, it is essential to research the specific species and opt for clumping varieties or choose running species that are known to be non-invasive. Consulting with local gardening experts or visiting a reputable nursery can provide valuable insights into suitable bamboo choices for your region.

bamboo invasion

Preventing Bamboo Invasion


Prevention is often the most effective approach to avoid the invasion of bamboo in your garden. Implementing the following measures will help safeguard your garden and maintain its harmony:


Barrier Installation

Installing a physical barrier around the bamboo’s perimeter is a common preventive measure. This barrier should extend at least 2 feet deep into the ground to prevent the underground rhizomes from spreading. Utilizing high-density polyethylene or another durable material is essential to withstand the pressure exerted by bamboo roots.


Regular Inspection 

Consistently monitor your garden for any signs of bamboo spreading beyond its designated area. Early detection allows for swift action and prevents the need for extensive removal later on.


Rhizome Pruning

If you notice any stray rhizomes attempting to venture beyond their boundaries, promptly prune them. By severing the rhizomes close to the main plant, you can effectively control the spread and restrict the bamboo’s invasive tendencies.


Maintenance and Vigilance

Regularly maintain your garden by removing any fallen leaves, stems, or debris around the bamboo. These organic materials can provide nutrients that fuel bamboo growth, so their prompt removal helps to impede the invasion.


Managing an Existing Bamboo Invasion


In some cases, bamboo invasion may have already taken hold in your garden, requiring a more intensive management strategy. Here are steps to regain control:


Root Barrier Optimization 

If a bamboo invasion has occurred despite a previously installed barrier, it is crucial to assess and optimize the barrier’s effectiveness. Inspect the barrier for any gaps, cracks, or signs of degradation, and reinforce it as necessary. Remember, a strong and intact barrier is your primary defence against bamboo encroachment.


Rhizome Excavation

To regain control over an invaded area, you may need to excavate the underground rhizomes of the bamboo. This process involves digging a trench around the bamboo stand, carefully removing the rhizomes, and disposing of them appropriately. Exercise caution during excavation to avoid damaging nearby plants or structures.


Chemical Control

In severe cases where excavation is not feasible, herbicides are an option but should be left to a professional to apply. Contact a professional or local agricultural extension office for guidance on the most suitable herbicide for bamboo eradication in your area.


Regular Maintenance

Once you have successfully managed a bamboo invasion, ongoing maintenance is vital to prevent reestablishment. Regularly inspect the area, removing any new shoots or rhizomes that may emerge. Remain vigilant and continue with the preventive measures mentioned earlier to ensure long-term success.


Understanding the nature of bamboo


While bamboo can indeed be an enchanting addition to your garden, its invasive tendencies should not be underestimated. By understanding the nature of bamboo invasion, selecting appropriate species, and implementing preventive measures, you can enjoy the beauty of bamboo without compromising the integrity of your garden. For existing invasions, a combination of root barrier optimization, rhizome excavation, and regular maintenance will help restore control and prevent future outbreaks. By following these strategies, you can reclaim your garden from the relentless grasp of bamboo.




Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) – The RHS provides comprehensive information on gardening and plant care, including guidance on managing bamboo invasion.


Website: www.rhs.org.uk


The Bamboo Society of the United Kingdom (BSUK) – BSUK is a society dedicated to the cultivation and conservation of bamboo. They offer resources and expert advice on bamboo species suitable for different regions.


Website: www.bamboo-society.org.uk


Garden Organic – Garden Organic is a charity organization promoting organic gardening practices. They provide guidance on managing invasive plants and offer advice on sustainable gardening methods.


Website: www.gardenorganic.org.uk


The National Trust – The National Trust manages numerous gardens and green spaces across the UK. Their website offers resources on various aspects of gardening, including invasive plant management.


Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk


The Wildlife Trusts – The Wildlife Trusts work to protect and preserve wildlife and natural habitats. They provide information on native plant species and how to create wildlife-friendly gardens.


Website: www.wildlifetrusts.org


Local Gardening Forums – Engaging with local gardening forums and communities can provide valuable insights and advice from fellow gardeners who have dealt with bamboo invasion in your specific area. These forums may vary by region, so a quick online search for “local gardening forums” or “UK gardening forums” will help you find relevant platforms.





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