How to dig out bamboo roots using hand tools

Digging out bamboo roots needs planning and the right tools. This article provides all the info you need to know based on the work we did in the bamboo garden over many years. 

Find out how to remove bamboo rhizomes the right way by using hand tools.

dig bamboo roots

Best hand tools for digging up bamboo

Bamboo roots/rhizomes and base buds are rough, you've got to have tougher tools to deal with them. 

The best hand tool for digging out bamboo is a pickaxe. Though it's heavy, it will make work lighter.

Also, you will need a pair of shears, a spade/shovel, a crowbar and a pruning hand saw.

Use a sealable bin to keep the rhizome cutting until they are dry.

Get the tools from top UK Home & Garden suppliers listed at the GBP website.  

List of tools for digging bamboo:

  • Pickaxe 
  • Crowbar
  • Pair of garden shears
  • Spade
  • Pruning hand saw

Dig out bamboo roots

When digging out bamboo, always do a clean cut through the rhizomes without pulling or splitting because the remaining parts will grow back, quickly.

Also, take precautions when digging up bamboo roots. The bamboo slits are razor sharp and can cause injury.

As a rule of thumb, cut the bamboo roots and rhizomes into smaller segments and keep them in a dry area until they dry before discarding.

You may find this article useful too: 5 ways to stop bamboo from spreading

Rhizomes and clump bases

Running bamboo rhizomes are underground stems. 

Clumping bamboo plants do not have rhizomes, instead, the roots form clusters around the plants called clump bases. 

Here is how to dig out bamboo rhizomes and clump bases to propagate.

  • Select the rhizomes that have buds or shoots coming out at the nodes.
  • Put the straight into shade or bucket of water.
  • For Runner bamboos cut 4 – 6 nodes or 3 – 5 internodes off the rhizome.
  • If you are working with Clump-forming bamboos, separate the compact clumps with 2 – 4 bamboo canes/culms on the cuttings.
  • Re-grow the rhizome cuttings immediately.

Tool: You will need a sharp pair of secateurs or garden loppers for snipping the branches and cutting the rhizomes. 

B&Q has a great collection of cutting and pruning tools - check them out.

When taking the bamboo cutting off the mother plant, do not disturb any new buds and small roots on the cuttings. 

Put the cuttings in shade or into a bucket of water so that the roots remain fresh for re-planting.

Dig out bamboo best non-chemical removal method

The rhizomes (and clump base) of many bamboo plants in the UK do not grow deep into the soil. 

They grow horizontally along with the top layer of the dirt at an average depth of 5 – 20cm. 

If you are going to re-grow the cutting, avoid using chemicals that can potentially damage the parent plant and the cuttings. 

(Read about the 4 Natural Ways to Kill Bamboos Permanently)

dig up bamboo roots

When removing invasive bamboo, always work smart, not hard. 

Identify where the rhizomes are running before digging. 

Here is how to dig out bamboo without using chemicals.

Cut stems

  • Cut the bamboo stems at 180 degrees across (horizontally), close to the ground. (Dig out the bamboo or use them in the garden)

Dig out dirt

  • Dig a drain around or along with the bamboo to a depth of 5 – 20cm.
  • Dig out the soil and dirt, cut off the rhizomes and clean the root hairs.

Remove rhizomes and clump bases

  • Removing rhizomes: Identify which way the rhizomes are running or how the clumps are formed, and dig along the rhizomes before removing them. (Do not break the rhizomes as they will grow back if left in the soils).
  • Removing bamboo base clumps: Use a pickaxe to dig out the base of the bamboo – one base stem at a time.

Do these before binning

  • Use a pair of secateurs or garden loppers to cut the stems into smaller pieces about 1 – 3cm.
  • Remove any side buds and root hairs to avoid any chance of growing back.
  • Leave the rhizome cuttings in direct sunlight and starve them off water and shade for 3 – 5 days or unit the rhizomes turn brown. This should be enough to kill them completely.

Tools you’ll need: Hacksaw, pickaxe, pair of secateurs or garden loopers. Get them here 

Work smart when digging up bamboo roots

The bamboos have tough rhizomes (underground stems) and culms (stems), so work smart when digging them up.

Care should be taken when cutting the bamboo stems and rhizomes.

Hope this article gives you an idea about how to dig out and remove bamboo rhizomes in your garden and stop the rhizomes from spreading into other spaces.

Check out the blog's archive for more info on how to remove bamboo roots/rhizomes.

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