What should she do about neighbor’s bamboo?

bamboo and fountain in Niagara County
Jaime Pabilonia of Youngstown grows bamboo, which can be invasive. He said the sidewalk helps keep it from spreading too much.

From time to time, we post a question and ask for input from our readers. If you have an idea on how to help, please leave a comment.

I hope you can help with a gardening concern I have. My neighbor has bamboo growing in their front yard. Right now it’s sending shoots out into just their yard. However, I’m terrified it will creep into my yard. I’ve read some scary things online about bamboo. Can you tell me how damaging this can really be and if there is anything I can’t do to protect my house from this stuff? It’s an old Buffalo neighborhood where the houses are quite close and the foundations are over 90 years old! Scary thought.

Readers, can you help Alissa? Does her neighbor’s bamboo pose a threat to Alissa’s foundation? How should she handle this problem? Please leave a comment below.



More resources

When you have gardening questions, you can call the Master Gardeners with Cornell Cooperative Extension Erie County at (716) 652-5400. These knowledgeable volunteers are available from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays. You can also email them at mgeriecce@gmail.com. There are helpful Cornell Cooperative Extension offices in other counties, too. Find contact information here for your county’s Cooperative Extension office.

You can also stop at a garden center to get great information. Check out our advertisers, click on their ad and you’ll be taken to their website or Facebook page to get their hours, address and other important information.

Turning to Cornell Cooperative Extension or your local garden center is probably the fastest route for getting your questions answered.

However, if you have a question and you’d like to get a wide range of opinions, email the question to me and I’ll pose it to my readers in an upcoming issue.


67 Comments on “What should she do about neighbor’s bamboo?

  1. I think we’ve covered this topic pretty well for Western New York. Unfortunately, I’m not able to field questions on this topic from other parts of the country where this plant may act very differently than it does in our area. I also can’t address what laws might be available for homeowners in other parts of the country facing a problem with bamboo encroaching on their property. I’m going to close comments on this post now. If you have a question regarding bamboo in your area, contact the extension service in your state. I hope that helps!

  2. Steve, you are right on! I had to sue my neighbor to get them to remove the bamboo that was growing on my property and now a bamboo barrier is down. I won in court – a mess to go through, but NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING kills bamboo. If they want to have it fine, but once it encroaches on your side of the property, you’re doomed.

  3. Manual physical removal is the solution to ridding your property 100% of this plant, anything less and you are leaving yourself open to future problems, damage and heartache. Legally you can ask your neighbor to take responsibility to pay for their bamboo removal cost from your property. Should your adjoining neighbor refuse to comply with your request, remibd them that technically it remains their bamboo rhizomes that have trespassed on to your side of your property, which is without your permission. You have recourse against your neighbor for their financial liability to correct the situation. In the event your neighbor refuses to be compliant with your request, your second option is to sue them In court for monetary damages for whatever your incurred costs are for correcting the situation. This is you paying to have professionals remove all the rhizomes in addition to installing along the greater common property line length bamboo root barrier that runs 36 inches deep.
    Another option is to place an insurance claim directly against your neighbor’s homeowners liability insurance policy, seeking restitution similarly for the same damage just described.
    PS. I professionally have been removing bamboo successfully for over 40 yrs. I have both seen or encountered every type of bamboo situation imaginable.

  4. My mobile home is next to my property line so the new neighbor put up a fence and bamboo
    I have to constantly keep cutting bamboo from touching my home and hanging over over on to my fruit trees and proprty I keep my trees cut from touching her fence and property am I going to do this the rest of my life she is not a good neighbor I tried to talk to her her answer is I don’t have to cut anything.
    In Louisiana.

  5. Check with your local city ordinance against invasive species and or bamboo in particular. contact your neighbor advising them in the event their bamboo roots encroach upon or damage any of your property that they in turn will be held financially liable to correct or immediate situation. if all else fails and your neighbors absolutely refuse to take action on their part then install bamboo barrier 36 inches deep along the common property line that now is in question. We have been successful in removal bamboo for 45 years.

  6. Actually very simple and easy to deal with. If I am reading correctly it is not yet on your property so no worries easy to defend against. Rhizomes run in the top few inches of the soil and can be easily foiled by the proper installation of a bamboo barrier.


    This may seem a daunting task, but actually pretty simple process with the right tools from your local tool rental location.

    Another less sure fire way I have found is to make an alkaline barrier with a good soil additive. Bamboo prefers acidic soil so you can discourage its growth with proper soil treatments and the removal of leaves, mulch, and other ground covers.

  7. I don’t feel that a blanket statement about this bamboo or the zone where it is growing is pertinent here when it is not even known what type of bamboo Jen is dealing with. If the bamboo is Phyllostachys aureosulcata it will grow in all zones and even up into Canada. This is a very cold-hardy bamboo, and it will grow in these areas with gusto! I guess the only people that can be knowledgeable about bamboo are the ones that live in the area. If you have moved away it erases your memory banks. 🙂

  8. Yes, I apologize for questions from East Tennessee! 🙂 However, I found everyone making comments on here to be friendly, talkative, and helpful, and I thought my question about leafing out pretty much applied to bamboo in general. We do have major rhizomes here and are dealing the best way we see fit. Thank you all for any help you gave/give me. Your kindness is much appreciated!

  9. Jim, yes, the recent discussion is by people who don’t live in Western New York. Jen, who wrote in with the question, is from East Tennessee. I don’t want to discourage people from outside the area from getting the help they need, but yes, this is getting a little off topic for Western New York. If people from outside our growing zones have follow-up questions on this topic, I’ll refer them to the cooperative extension in their area.

  10. I may have missed something on this thread but the defeatist and exasperated tone regarding bamboo and its eradication has hit a point that deserves once again some comment based on known facts and long experience with these grasses in Western New York. Please note that I am referring to the growth of Phyllostacys in zone 5.
    In zone 5, the behavior of running bamboo is markedly more indolent than that in the warmer parts of the USA. The culms are smaller in diameter, fewer per square meter, and shorter in stature. The bamboo is INCAPABLE of breaching solid barriers of concrete and normal thicknesses of public asphalt paths and roads. Further, it is contained by 60 mil SOLID barriers of plastic properly installed.
    In order to eradicate a grove of running bamboo in Zone 5 you must remove at ground level all existing culms and IMMEDIATELY step on or cut any subsequent shoots that appear in order to deny the rhizome the necessary energy to produce further growth. Letting any shoot “leaf out” is the last thing that will promote eradication. This plant cannot grow in the absence of necessary energy stores and this hysteria regarding its “Zombie” like growth is absolutely unwarranted inout area.
    There is anecdotal experience with Roundup and with flooding the area with 2-3 inches of water for 7-14 days to accelerate the rhizomal death but these methods have not been universally adopted.
    I am not discounting the considerable work it takes to achieve eradication, but the descriptions of heavy equipment, massive excavations and “constant”digging to the point of knee damage is over the top. It will take several years of simple surface cutting and surveillance but the plants will die back and follow the laws of nature that applies to all plants. In an established garden of multiple species of plants that are being preserved, this is, of course, more difficult to achieve but will be successful if faithfully executed for a couple of years.
    Of note, Area code 352 is Florida and Area code 757 is Virginia. These locations have nothing in common with the experience in Western New York.

  11. Hi Jen:

    I feel very sad for you. I o not think you will be able to get rid of it. Please call me at 352 686-3975 or 757 232-5970. Maybe I can offer some advice. Good luck to you and please be careful. My husband injured his knee from the constant digging and had to have surgery. It never was the same again.

  12. Hi Carol!

    I hear you! That is definitely not the life I want either! We excavated and dug up all the roots that we could get to. We are going to install a barrier that will hopefully ‘protect’ about 2/3 of our back and side yards that are in danger of regrowth from the neighbor’s grove. This will also protect our front yard, which has never had roots. There are parts of our back and side yards that we cannot barrier because of trees, slopes, gas lines, water lines, etc etc. And we live on a corner, so we can’t attach the barrier to the road. But we are going to do the best that we can. We’re trying to figure out the best way to bring two pieces of barrier together and attach to a deep conrete wall, but there are so many obstacles; I’m going crazy every day trying to make the best decisions possible while the excavating is underway. The back portion of our yard that we can’t barrier… well, we’ll just have to keep knocking it down, but we can’t really stop the roots. No way we can dig them all up each time they grow. My neighbor’s bamboo is right there. About 300 stalks right on the border of our property. So basically, I just want to protect our house and driveway. I realize we will never be able to get all of the roots beyond the barrier. The man we hired to excavate didn’t go down as deep as I wanted, and he couldn’t get to certain places under a concrete stair/stoop, under concrete under the deck, under a sidewalk, but he hand dug as much as possible near those places. Since we will have roots just on the other side of the barrier, we will never be free from it. But, I love this house. We’ve lived here for 20 years now and have raised/raising both of our children here, so it is what it is and we’re doing the best we can to keep it within reason.

    Do you know about these little ‘bushes’ or short leafy bamboo sprouts that we are getting ever since we cut down all of our stalks and poisoned the roots? Do those tiny plants allow much energy to get to the roots? They will be my main concern after the barrier goes in. The stuff on the other side of the barrier that will still be attached to my neighbor’s bamboo grove, well, not much I can do about that except not let it grow stalks. But on this side of the barrier around my home, I’m sure going to try to not let anything grow, and hopefully we dug up most of it, but no doubt there will still be some. I no longer want to go out there every day and cut off all of these tiny, little leafs off of these tiny, little bushes just in case they give the rhizome energy! Like I mentioned prior, they come out of the ground with leaves! Even though I whack them off every day, the next day, more are out there. I could watch them grow! These are my main concern now.

    I’m sure they are just from the bamboo fighting to survive after being cut down and poisoned… but I just don’t know how much energy they can help the rhizomes that may still be left underground store, if any at all. It’s their last ditch effort to survive, but by golly, they sure are trying hard.

  13. Hi Jen:

    When I say “leaf out” I mean when it actually gets leaves. The plant must have leaves in order for it to create the process of storing energy. It stores this energy in the underground rhizomes so it does not always require sunlight in order to grow and survive. This energy can last as long as 2 – 3 years before it is depleted. If the plant is connected underground to another plant somewhere else(a neighbor’s plant perhaps) it will continue to store energy and you will never kill it. You really do need to remove all of the underground parts of Phyllostachys to get rid of it, or you can choose to keep on top of it for 3 years continually guarding and cutting. I personally think this is a monumental task that would be darn near impossible for one to accomplish. Constantly monitoring my property for 3 years is not the life I want!

  14. Hi Jen:

    When I say “leaf out” I mean when it actually gets leaves. The plant must have leaves in order for it to create the process of storing energy. It stores this energy in the underground rhizomes so it does not always require sunlight in order to grow and survive. This energy can last as long as 2 – 3 years before it is depleted. If the plant is connected underground to another plant somewhere else(a neighbor’s plant perhaps)it will continue to store energy and you will never kill it. You really do need to remove all of the underground parts of Phyllostachys to get rid of it, or you can choose to keep on top of it for 3 years continually guarding and cutting. I personally think this is a monumental task that would be darn near impossible for one to accomplish. Constantly monitoring my property for 3 years is not the life I want!

  15. Carol, when you and others say ‘leaf out’, explain that exactly to me. I don’t know exactly what type of bamboo we have, but it is most definitely a very healthy running bamboo! From pictures I’ve seen, it looks to me that it is ‘Moso’. The stalks that grow really tall, they don’t get leaves until they are quite tall. We definitely will not have a problem not allowing those to leaf out when they come up through the ground. The stalks have a brown ‘husk’ on them until they get fairly tall, then the husk falls off. But it doesn’t get leaves until after that. However, ever since we cut all of the stalks down off of our property last winter, the bamboo has been sprouting up in a different way. Little tiny bush-like plants that are definitely coming out of the rhizomes/runners, and they pop up all along the runners. Some are tiny, some are larger, but as soon as you can see them, they have tiny leaves on them! I cannot NOT let these ‘leaf out’ since they arrive with leaves, basically. Of course, I try to cut them away as soon as I can, but literally hundreds started popping up about two months after we cut our bamboo stalks down. I have been told that these type shoots mean that the roots are trying to survive… possibly also because we poisoned all of the roots down inside after we cut the stalks down, as well as because we cut down so many stalks. Anyway, I’m wondering if each and every one of those little bush-like or small shoots’ leaves cause the rhizomes to store energy. Yes, I’ve seen firsthand how damaging bamboo rhizomes are. They have pushed up our deck, our asphalt driveway, and have run along the concrete of our home and under a sidewalk. Fortuntately, none penetrated our foundation. When we realized the bamboo had spread to our house, that’s when we decided to take action. Unfortunately, I hadn’t realized it had spread underground so far, as we always had kept the stalks knocked down each spring to be about 30 feet away from our house… ha… what’s the old saying, “If I knew then what I know now…”

  16. https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1_jkkqZyBKgR1hxRlhobElPYzg/edit?pli=1

    Bamboo stores its energy in the rhizomes underground. You can cut it all down and it WILL keep growing for about 3 years. If it is allowed to leaf out even once during those 3 years, it will store more energy. Bamboo is not an easy plant to remove. I know of a 26 acre infestation of Phyllostachys running Bamboo in one of our National Parks in Virginia. I doubt that one can just kick over the culms to be rid of it every spring. Heavy equipemtn cannot be brought into the park to dig it out because of artifacts under the soil. One part of the infestation is in a Colonial Cemetery. There are many different types of bamboo and many different stages of growth. One may have an opinion on the type of bamboo that he or she is familiar with, but that does not make him or her an expert on all bamboos. The bamboo that has made many people upset is Phyllostachys running bamboo. It will damage your property. It will grow up under cement slabs and asphalt driveways. It will do damage to homes. Follow the above link for a video of running bamboo growing into the wall of a home without sunlight.

  17. Connie, thank you for your response to my post. We are actually in East Tennessee, however, all of our bamboo/rhizome problems sound the same as the posts here. I’ve also looked at pics from all over the country of problems bamboo has caused, and our problems look quite the same. I’m hoping that people anywhere will be able to answer my concerns. I reread my post and I see a few typos. One of which matters: I said we had 20 stalks in our yard that we cut down last winter. I meant to type that there were 200 stalks. Quite a difference. I’m afraid that it wouldn’t be our neighbor’s responsibility at this point since we allowed his bamboo to actually grow and spread into our yard for about 15 years. We had no idea at the time the damge the roots could cause. Although we’ve cut them down now and are attempting to eradicate the roots as much as possible, I feel we are liable for our problems… for now. Perhaps 5 – 10 years from now if we are still having issues with new rhizomes getting through, that may be a possibility. Anyway, if anyone could help answer any of my questions/concerns from my post above, I would truly appreciate it. I guess just let me know how the bamboo you deal with would act… I’m thinking it is quite similar. Thank you!

  18. Jen, do you live in Western New York? We seem to have people commenting from other parts of the country where growing conditions may be very different. Knowing what growing conditions you’re dealing with may help you sort out the comments. One person noted that if the bamboo came from a neighbor’s property, it could be the neighbor’s responsibility to take care of your bamboo problem, so you may want to look into that.

  19. I have more than a million questions, but for starters: People say let the new shoots grow until the leaf out, then cut them down again. The stalks we are dealing with do not ‘leaf out’ until they are waaaay tall, and I do not want to have tall stalks in my yard again. Some seem to have leaves before they are above the ground. We cut down about 20 stalks (large, tall, thick, bamboo) last winter, just before spring. We poisoned each root with Roundup (Gly). Then little ‘bushes’ of bamboo with leaves started sprouting up everywhere. Now, we have dug out as much of our yard as we could with a backhoe and excavator. Some areas we just can’t get to, under sidewalks, old driveways, behind walls. And our yard is multilayered with slopes. Impossible. But we dug out a major portion. Now we are going to put in 80 mil barrier. However, we can’t barrier everywhere because of gas lines, trees, water lines, walls, slopes, etc. We did rebuild an old concrete wall that had held back the bamboo for 20+ years from one area of our yard, until this past summer, one rhizome found a crack and went down into a concrete block and proceeded to grow downward until it found the dirt that then led under our asphalt driveway. And a stalk came up through the asphalt. We believe we severed that rhizome. We rebuilt the wall and FILLED it with conrete this time as well. Do you think that rhizome will still grow and continue out the other side of our asphalt driveway? Or is that pretty much gone now? Also, they haven’t for 20+ years, but will the rhizomes grow under that wall at all?? So many questions while we are in the midst of this process. We cannot cut down all the bamboo stalks, because the remainder 300 or so stalks are on our neighbor’s property, which is uphill from us. He likes his bamboo. So we are just doing the best we can. My biggest concerns now are this wall and keeping bamboo from the part of our yard where we have kept it so far, until that one rhizome broke through the block – which we have now fixed. Any help?

  20. Almost a year ago I posted a comment about bamboo on this site. I am assuming that most readers are in the western New York area and understand the effect of climate on plants.
    Until Fred posted his comment today, the postings have continued to repeat and inflame this “bamboo hysteria” that is TOTALLY unfounded for this climate zone.
    Bamboo requires the same diligence and responsibility that goes with any gardening endeavor whether it be trees, shrubs, or ivy. In this climate zone the Phyllostachys (running) species that are commonly available are QUITE INDOLENT as a running spreading plant. Fred is absolutely correct about eradicating it totally, although, in the south, it can require several years of such treatment before it gives up.
    Likewise, if you just want to control its spread, barriers or simple mowing as you would any grass (Bamboo is a grass!) will do the job.
    Furthermore, I will repeat, Bamboo will not damage property nor persons in any storm, unlike the many well cared for and not so well cared for trees that we readily enjoy in upstate New York.

  21. “First of all, NOTHING kills running bamboo – you MUST dig up the roots”

    This is FALSE.

    All you need to do is CUT the ENTIRE PLANT DOWN to the GROUND.

    ALL OF IT.

    It will grow back ONCE. Let the new shoots grow just until they begin to LEAF OUT. Then cut it all down to the ground.




  22. This is something I never expected to see! Over the weekend my husband was digging up the bamboo,(it’s never-ending). And he came across very hard thick roots. He started hacking away at it with the mattock. Without much success. He did however manage to dig out large thick roots. In the past I’d planted a fern there and came across this hard root, but I never thought it was this. Turned out it’s neighbour on the right. Her fig tree roots have invaded our garden! Touche! My husband showed our neighbour the fig tree roots. And I said, “I’ll expect you to come over to our garden and dig it out.” No reply from the neighbour. She just laughed. Another invasive plant to put on your list of invasive plants; fig trees. Who would’ve thought it?

  23. First of all, NOTHING kills running bamboo – you MUST dig up the roots and the rhizomes then install a bamboo barrier. That’s the only thing that works and it’s backbreaking. Don’t waste your money on pesticides, salt, extension services, etc. You MUST dig up the roots and rhizomes. Without long dialogue, my neighbor’s bamboo spread into my yard and I had considerable damage. After refusal by the neighbor to work something out, I had the bamboo barrier put down between our yards (cost $2900) and sued in small claims court. I won. I lost friendship of a neighbor, but gained control of my property. As a side note, no one will buy your property with bamboo growing on it! An EXCELLENT article below is from Philadelphia Inquirer and at this link: That about says it all.

  24. Hi Connie relations between myself and the neighbours are harmonius. Everything I say is said with a smile. I might add that I didn’t appreciate my neighbour standing over me telling me that the bamboo shoots were still there! When I’m doing the best I can to help her. I could see the shoots perfectly. When I told her it would take 4 years before she could plant flowers. She replied, “I can’t wait that long. I want to plant flowers next year!” It’s OK my neighbour on the right wanting to plant flowers next year. In fact I applaud her optimism. She’s just uninformed about the nature of running bamboo. In some cases it can run metres away from the mother plant!

    One thing I should’ve mentioned – you need to saturate the soil before you attempt to pull up any rhizomes; it makes digging and pulling easier. On either side of the top of our garden are 2 metres of rhizomes and soil. I can’t get sentimental over these parts of the garden that are lost to digging, the bottom sides of our garden is bliss. I know that it will take years of digging up rhizomes, and my husband and I are prepared for that. My neighbour on the left still has the slabs up. We’re hoping to pull out more rhizomes and lay down plastic over the weekend. My neighbour on the right still has her plastic down; I’ll see her at the end of this month. And no doubt she’ll complain about the bamboo again!

    My neighbour on the left also has ivy planted by an old man long ago at the back of her garden invading our fence. We’ve got ivy coming at from both sides. But my neighbours aren’t in a rush to sort it out! Of course not. I’m getting rid of the invasive bamboo. What I don’t have time for is neighbours who do nothing about their invasive plants. As though they’ve got all the time in the world!

    Another thing my neighbour on the right has a fig tree where bamboo shoots are. She’s made the right noises about getting rid of it; but so far hasn’t moved a muscle on that. I used the lopper to cut off the taller shoots sprayed it with weedkiller,lay plastic down, and put a brick on it.

    My husband was out in the garden digging yesterday he told our neighbour on the right it will take 4 years to eradicate the bamboo/rhizomes. Her reply, “Oh dear.” My husband told her the same thing I told her! Is bad news better coming from a man?

  25. Oh, dear. Such hard feelings. Maybe once the bamboo is eradicated, you can go back to having pleasant relationships with your neighbors. My readers can use this as a warning not to plant running bamboo. Best of luck to you.

  26. I planted bamboo over 10 years ago on both sides. No warning from the garden centre regarding it’s invasive nature. Hands up it’s my fault. I accept total responsibility. A decade later, it’s invaded our neighbours on both sides. We bought a mattock. And are digging up massive rhizomes. I’m not demonising bamboo. It’s a lovely plant. But my bamboo was out of control and affecting our neighbours gardens. Eradicating bamboo is backbreaking work!!! My neighbour to my right has a little patch of soil that the bamboo has grown through. She told me she wants to plant flowers next year. Really! I told her she may have to wait several years for that: she’s not prepared to wait. She has no idea that in this case; the bamboo is the master for now. My husband and I went over to her garden, dug up the roots,lay down clear plastic, put bricks on the soil to hold it down six weeks ago. We’re using the method of solarisation: bamboo needs air and water to thrive. We’ve deprived it of both. When the sun is shining this will effectively kill the bamboo root system. But you must change the plastic every 4-6 weeks so that the plastic doesn’t disintegrate into the soil. Laying down fresh plastic each time you repeat this process. Last week I went over to her garden to lay down fresh plastic. She was standing over me showing me the roots alluding to the fact that. “You have to dig up the whole root.” I was bristling with rage! I wanted to hand her the mattock and say, “You dig!” My husband dug out the root system. She wants to teach me how to suck eggs!I went over to her garden in the first place to check how invasive the bamboo is. She said, “I didn’t want to complain.” We then proceeded to sort her garden out. She has a big fig tree that is hindering progress of getting this monster out! I might add, at no extra cost to her! At least we’re getting on with it! And yet she has ivy planted over 30 years invading the neighbouring garden directly behind us, and our brand new fence the builder and my husband erected!I haven’t seen her come over to my garden to fix her problem ivy! She claims she’s going to get rid of the ivy in the winter; it’s summer here in England now. But if she gets rid of the ivy now;the ivy is now the fence. So what? It’s hot and dry now:get somebody in to take the ivy down and erect a new fence! Nobody gardens in winter! I’d like to see her gardening in the freezing cold! She’s not going to do that. But of course it’s the age old saying, I’ll do it when I’m good and ready! My neighbours on the left, do no gardening at all. The neighbour wants me to do their gardening at £5.00 per hour. I told her, “£10.00.” The bamboo rhizomes have worked their way under their ill constructed patio. I’ve had to take the slabs away, my husband has dug up some of the rhizomes, with more digging yet to come. Whilst digging up rhizomes, the woman asked me about the fence. My husband said I should tell her, “If you paid me £10.00 I could use the money to buy a new fence!” My husband dug up our Phormium, the bamboo rhizomes are embedded in it. We threw it in the bin! Phormium number 2 will go the same route. It’s no use my neighbour to the right, moaning about our bamboo the next time, I go around to her, I’ll tell her to sort her ivy out! Lastly my neighbour on the left told me, “I’ve found a gardener.” I replied, “Good luck.”

  27. For those readers in the Buffalo New York area it is useful to know the behaviour of the plants in your climate zone. Most of the spreading bamboos are grown in zones 7-9 and can be quite invasive. They do not generally invade foundations, sidewalks, concrete structures nor pipes as has been previously stated. They will breach fence lines and require barriers 3-4 inches above ground and extending up to 18 inches below grade of a thickness of 30-60 mil plastic.
    A relatively few spreading species are grown in temperate zones (3-6) and they tend to grow much more slowly, spread much less rapidly, and grow to only 30-50% the height of their southern brethren. They can be controlled by a 6-8 inch trench around the desired perimeter which allows you to visualize rhizomes that are spreading beyond the desired zone of containment, and they also can be mowed like grass to control their spread.
    The owners of the property on LeBrun have done nothing to control any of the bamboo growing there now for over 6 years, since the October Storm of 2006. This highlights the relatively indolent nature of the plants in Zone 5. Bamboo has the highly desireable property of simply bending over in snow/ice/wind and does not break nor represent any threat to people or property from heavy falling limbs or uprooted mass as with trees.
    When properly tended and maintained, bamboo is a beautiful addition to many gardens and should not be demonized by people with little or no experience in its cultivation in Buffalo New York. Reasonable care properly locating and caring for it will assure that it is MUCH less of a threat to you or your neighbors than most of the beautiful trees that we admire so much in the northeast.

  28. To the person whose comment I took down: You’re welcome to express your opinion about a topic, but on this website, we don’t allow people to attack other people. You can disagree with someone, but you can’t call that person names. (For example, you can say a gardening technique is bad, but you can’t say a person who is a proponent of that technique is stupid.) Your comment had some useful information in it and if you’d like to reword your comment in a way that is helpful to all of our readers, I’d be happy to share it with my readers. (I can’t use any comment that includes the screen name you used in your first comment.) We want to make this a helpful site for everyone. I do hope you understand.

  29. Yes. We need laws! I am currently trying to have a bill introduced in Baltimore County, MD. I’ve been digging out rhizomes from my neighbor’s bamboo for 15 years. If you live in Baltimore County please call your county councilperson and tell them your bamboo nightmare. Ask them to support a bill to ban or require containment of running bamboo and make the people who allow bamboo to destroy their neighbor’s property financially responsible for the removal of it. You can contact me at banbamboonow@gmail.com.

  30. People who think running bamboo can be compared to dandelions or other weeds in their lawns are showing their lack of knowledge on this subject. We have been battling this plant for about 5 years. My husband injured his knee from the constant digging in an sttempt to keep the bamboo rhizomes off our property. He has had 2 surgeries and now walks with a permanent limp. We finally had a concrete barrier installed near the property line at a cost of 3,000 dollars. We have lost all the trees, landscaping, and the irrigation system on that side of our property. Running bamboo will destroy your foundation, concrete walks, driveway, pipes, watering system, landscaping, septic leach field, fences, and your pool. Once it is established on your property it will take a back hoe to remove it, and any peices left in the soil can then resprout and the nightmare begins all over again. Weed killers may harm an established plant but they usually will not kill it. The plant spread and does it’s damage underground where you cannot see it. It stores energy in the underground rhizomes so if you cut it down it simply grows back again. The underground part of it needs to be completely removed. You can continually mow, but if it leafs out in between mowings it stores more energy and the process begins again. It will take about 3 years of constant mowing before the energy is spent. The U.S.D.A. states that one running bamboo plant can spread 9.3 miles in its lifetime. Our neighbor planted 5 of them on the property line on 1/3 of an acre. This plant needs to be contained when it is planted and even then it will probably escape in time as the containment materials break down.I have photos of it coming up through the siding on a house, under wooden decks, under concrete, thorough a concrete pool, and growing through the asphalt in the middle of a road. I don’t think this plant has any business being used for landscaping purposes on the average residential lot. We need laws!

  31. A really good example of a property that used to be nice with a smidgeon of bamboo but is now overrun sits on the corner of LeBrun and LeBrun Circle just one house away from the corner of LeBrun and Eggert Road in Eggertsville. The effect is one of jungle now. Check it out if you are near the VA hospital or traveling in Eggertsville.

  32. First of all, NOTHING kills bamboo – you MUST dig up the roots and the rhizomes. Without long dialogue, my neighbor’s bamboo spread into my yard and I had considerable damage. After refusal by the neighbor to work something out, I had a bamboo barrier put down in my yard (cost $2900) and sued the neighbor in small claims court. I won. Of course, I then had to restore my side of the property. I lost friendship of a neighbor, but gained control of my property. As a side note, no one will buy your property with bamboo growing on it! Excellent article below from Phila. Inquirer 3 weeks ago. That about says it all.

  33. Wow– $3,000! That’s a lot of money to have to spend to keep out running bamboo. Up until a couple years ago, I didn’t even know that there was a type of bamboo could grow in our area, and I didn’t dream that it could be so invasive. Thank you for spelling it out for us, Cathy.

  34. Believe me, there is NOTHING that can be done to get rid of running bamboo. My neighbor allowed it to grow uncontrollably for years and I asked over time that something be done – even at mutual expense. Last year over the spring/summmer season I nearly collapsed digging out the roots, which were now up to my foundation. Finally I sent a letter asking for compensation to have a root barrier installed and asked that he pay for it; otherwise there would be court action. I won the case and was reimbursed $3k for the barrier. However,that’s not the end because next year I’ll have to have the topsoil removed to get out all the rhizomes. Don’t think bamboo will go away if mowed, sprayed with chemicals, etc. NOTHING WORKS short of digging up ALL the roots. Good luck!

  35. There are towns in New York State, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey that have already passed ordinances. North Carolina Beach towns are looking to have ordinances passed as well as Connecticut and Massachusettes. This (Phyllostachys) invasive bamboo is really a problem. I have a neighbor who planted it on the property line, and I am hoping our county looks into the situation soon as it has already cost us 3,000 dollars to keep it off of our property. I live in Florida, and I just got back from a trip to Georgia where I saw it growing wild on the side of the road. You are right, Caryn’s website if full of great information. The sellers of this bamboo are trying to discredit her. Do not be fooled!

  36. Connie:

    Bamboo seems to grow anywhere. It is as far north as Canada. I have seen it covered with snow and I have seen it growing in sand in a drought. I am sure that it has qualities that some people find valuable, but I think it does not have a place as a landscaping plant in a residential neighborhood. There needs to be laws.

  37. Carol, that is amazing! Until a couple years ago, I didn’t even know that bamboo would grow in our area, much less that it was so invasive. Thanks for sharing that.

  38. I almost bought a house in Virginia where the bamboo had grown through the sidewalk. It had grown up through the expansion joints where the concrete broke and cracked from its own weight leaving room for more bamboo to grow. I am so glad that we never bought that house. At the time I didn’t know what this plant could do. I thought we could just dig it out like any other plant.

  39. I hadn’t thought of the bamboo situation that way. It’s another option she can consider. Thanks for writing.

  40. Bamboo growing from your neighbors yard into yours is a criminal trespass. It is also a legal nuisance. It is their financial responsibility to remove the bamboo from your yard, to make sure the bamboo does not trespass in the future, and to return your yard to the condition is was in prior to the invasion. I would start by contacting your city attorney. If she can’t be of assistance then you need a real estate attorney.

  41. Yes that is how I do it. The metal degrades after a while but I’m usually ready to change things by that time.

  42. I think I’m understanding now. You dig a trench around the bamboo plant. You coat the inner wall, the one closest to the bamboo plant, with salt. Then you add the metal flashing and fill any gaps with soil. The salt may leech downward, but it won’t leech outward because of the metal blocking it from the rest of your landscape. Do I have that right?

  43. Trenching metal flashing will deter for a short while. Bamboo will eventually overcome the barrier. Trenching& then extreme salting have been my best defenses. It leaves the bamboo in a natural clump, while giving definition to the garden. The salt is contained in the trench& also accessible to runners so no salt burns to any other plants.

  44. Alissa did mention that it is already sending out runners. Clumping bamboo to my knowledge will not send out runners. So that does suggest running bamboo as opposed to clumping bamboo.

  45. I found two websites that may be of some help.
    1. The first is from a site that sells bamboo and discusses running vs. clumping. That’s why I mentioned checking which kind you have. Clumpers do spread too, but are not invasive. You need to scroll down a bit to find the section on the two types.
    2. The second webpage gives suggestions for how to deal with running bamboo. Timing of removal of new shoots and mowing apparently are important.


    Hope that helps.

  46. The first thing I would do is find out WHAT KIND OF BAMBOO it is. There is a house on LeBrun in Amherst which has bamboo that is in thick clumps but does not spread the way running bamboo does. Also check to see that it isn’t Japanese knotweed…it looks like bamboo and is highly invasive….it will have white flowers in August/September. I would definitely talk to your neighbor first to find out the kind of bamboo, and then discuss options.
    Hopefully your neighbor is open to solutions.

  47. yes it can be destructive to the foundation. As those rbizomes spread and reach the foundation it it like so many tree and shrub roots and cause crazing or fissures in the foundation and possible water seepage into the basement or crawl space but bamboo is even more aggressive. Because of its extra fast growth and spread it does make a good and environmentally friendly building material but that is probably its only redeeming grace.

  48. Those are great suggestions. If the neighbor isn’t trying to control the bamboo, it sounds like the neighbor will have a problem soon, too. I had thought of trying to slow down the bamboo by planting it in a pot and placing the pot in the ground, but judging from these comments, that might not be as effective as we’d like. Can bamboo be destructive to the foundation of a house?

  49. I agree with Penny. Running Bamboo is hard to contain, even if planted in restricting containers. It will eventually find your yard.

  50. First thing that I would do is to talk to the neighbor since running bamboo spreads by rhizomes even a tiny piece leaft behind will start growing and spreading. If talking to the neighbor about your concerns doesn’t work, I have heard that using salt water or rock salt on the emerging bamboo will work. Be aware it will also kill any surrounding vegetation too

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