How to Kill Bamboo in Your Yard and Garden

Published January 8, 2020
Man Cutting Bamboo Using Hand Saw

Some bamboo varieties are invasive and killing them may be the only way to regain control over this fast-growing plant. Use the method to kill bamboo that fits your situation best.

Kill Bamboo With Vinegar

One of the best organic methods to kill bamboo is with distilled white vinegar. Vinegar is highly acidic and will kill new growth. If your bamboo grows in clumps, then you don't have to worry about it having underground rhizomes. These are massive roots that grow underground in a horizontal direction and produce shoots that grow up from this bunch of roots, breaking through the surface. Rhizomes make it difficult to eradicate the bamboo.

Tools Needed

  • Garden loppers
  • Shovel
  • 1 gallon of distilled white vinegar
  • 1 pair of work gloves


  1. Use the loppers to cut the bamboo as close to the ground as possible.
  2. Dig around the plant with the shovel to expose the root system.
  3. Use undiluted vinegar and pour directly onto the unearthed roots.
  4. If you prefer, you can remove as much of the root system and then soak the turned earth with vinegar, allowing it to seep into the soil where the roots were.
  5. You can now pull up the stalk.
  6. Discarded roots and stalk can easily reestablish itself, so you can burn these or place them in a garbage bag and place in a trash bin.
  7. You may need to repeat the process or douse new grow with vinegar.
  8. Once you've removed all the stalks and as much of the root system as possible, you may want to regularly mow. This can prevent new growth from taking over the area once more.

Boiling Water

The most simplistic method for killing bamboo is with boiling water. You can pour scalding water over the bamboo plant. It is much easier to follow the steps in the vinegar method and substitute the vinegar with boiling water. You can dig around the bamboo and expose the roots so you can pour the boiling water directly onto the root system and kill the plant.

Cut and Mow

Another method is less labor intensive. The work is mostly upfront and after that you'll need to mow over any new growth to maintain control.

Tools Needed

  • Garden loppers
  • Lawn mower
  • Pair of work gloves


  1. Use the garden loppers to cut the bamboo as close to the ground as possible.
  2. Mow over the area. Be sure to set the lawn mower blades at the lowest setting.
  3. Anytime you notice new growth emerging from the ground, run the lawn mower over the area.

Be Consistent

Consistency is the key to the success of this method. If you encounter a week or so of rain, you may need to cut back the new growth with the garden loppers. In this instance, you'll want to immediately mow the area once you've cut back the new growth. Keep up with any new growth by mowing over it.

Kill Rhizomes to Rid Yourself of Bamboo

This method attacks the rhizomes by cutting them away from the bamboo. These roots nourish the bamboo and with this supportive system, the bamboo will die.

Tools Needed

  • Shovel
  • Work gloves
  • Garbage bag
  • Garden hose attached to outside water spigot


  1. Don the work gloves and turn on water spigot and drench to ground around the bamboo, moving two feet in diameter around the plant.
  2. Once the soil is sufficiently wet (not muddy), you can begin digging around the plant. Dig all around the plant.
  3. You will feel it when the shovel strikes the roots.
  4. Unearth the roots as much as you can.
  5. Grab the roots with your gloved hands and pull them from the ground.
  6. When the roots stop giving, use your shovel to unearth more of the root system.
  7. Continue working until you have removed as much of the root as you can.
  8. Place these in a garbage bag to prevent the rhizomes for taking root once more.
  9. You can now pull up the bamboo. If you can use the bamboo in your garden or other uses, cut the stalk free from the roots. Place the ball of roots in the garbage bag and place in the trash collection bin.
  10. You will see new bamboo shoots emerge from the ground, since it's impossible to get all of the rhizomes the first time.
  11. Anytime you see new shoots, repeat steps 4 through 9.
  12. It may require you repeating this process until the bamboo is completely eradicated from your yards.

Herbicide Method

This method using harsh chemicals. Many gardeners resist this method and only turn to it as a last resort due to the harmful effects herbicides can have on innocent vegetation, the environment and humans.

Tools Needed

  • Herbicide
  • Work gloves
  • Mask and goggles
  • Protective clothing
  • Garden sprayer or 2" paint brush


  1. This method uses either a sprayer or paint brush to apply the herbicide.
  2. If you opt for the sprayer method, you will use the herbicide according to the manufacturer's instructions. Spray the entire bamboo plant with the herbicide, being careful not to spray other plants.
  3. The painting application method is often chosen since you don't risk accidental spray drift onto cherished plants. Dip the brush into the herbicide and paint the entire bamboo with the poison.
  4. The bamboo will turn yellow, then wither and die. You can cut down the dead stalks.
  5. You will need to repeat this method whenever new growth emerges until the plant eventually dies.

Choosing the Best Method to Kill Bamboo

You have several choices of methods to kill unwanted bamboo plants. You may decide to combine a couple of methods or use different methods during different times of the year.

How to Kill Bamboo in Your Yard and Garden