5 Simple Ways to Kill Bamboo & Keep It From Coming Back

Say bye-bye to those invasive stalks once and for all by learning about our five most effective ways to kill bamboo.

Updated March 28, 2024
bamboo grass growing in the yard

Hearing that the solution to your landscaping worries is to kill a darling little plant feels like sacrilege. But some bamboo varieties are invasive, and killing them may be the only way you can regain control over this fast-growing plant. From using vinegar to killing rhizomes, there are so many different ways to kill bamboo. And once you know how to kill bamboo, your backyard will never get overrun with the tall stalks again. 

5 Best Ways to Kill Invasive Bamboo 

There are three bamboo species native to the United States, but several invasive types have overtaken the mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Given that bamboo can rapidly grow, with some species adding inches to their stalks in mere hours, even intentionally planted bamboo can get out of control in a flash.

When allowed to grow without intervention, bamboo can sap nutrients from the other flora planted in the area. Protect your backyard habitat by getting rid of bamboo with these surefire methods. 

  • Vinegar 
  • Boiling water 
  • Cut/mow down 
  • Kill and separate rhizomes from the bamboo 
  • Herbicide 

How to Kill Bamboo With Vinegar

One of the best natural ways 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 the underground rhizomes that make fully eradicating bamboo so difficult. 

Need to Know

Rhizomes are massive root systems that grow horizontally and produce shoots that break through the surface. These deep and far-reaching underground systems are what make bamboo so difficult to battle. 

Materials Needed

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


  1. Use the loppers to cut the bamboo as close to the ground as possible.
  2. Using the shovel, dig around the plant to expose the root system.
  3. Pour undiluted vinegar directly onto the unearthed roots.
  4. If you prefer, you can remove as much of the root system as possible, and then soak the turned earth with vinegar, allowing it to seep into the soil where the roots were.
  5. Pull up leftover stalks. 
  6. Discarded roots and stalks can easily reestablish themselves, so burn them or throw them into a garbage bag. 
  7. You may need to repeat the process or douse new growth with vinegar.

Kill Bamboo With Boiling Water

Another simple bamboo-killing method is using boiling water. Instead of pouring scalding-hot water directly over the bamboo plant, substitute vinegar with boiling water in the vinegar-killing method. This includes digging around the bamboo and exposing the roots so you can pour the hot water directly onto the source. 

Related: How to Kill Weeds Naturally Without Harming Plants or Bees

Cut and Mow Bamboo Down 

Cutting and mowing down bamboo is the least labor-intensive of all these bamboo-killing methods. However, the key to making this method work is being consistent. Forget to follow through for a few weeks, and you'll have stubborn shoots taking over your yard. 

Materials Needed

  • Garden loppers
  • Lawnmower
  • 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, mow over the area.
Need to Know

If you encounter a week or so of rain, you may need to cut back the new growth with garden loppers. If so, you should immediately mow the area after you've done so. 

Kill Rhizomes to Get Rid of Bamboo

Attacking the rhizomes (massive root systems) by cutting them away from the bamboo is a macabre but effective way to rid your yard of invasive bamboo plants. Because these roots nourish the bamboo, separating the shoots from the supportive root system will cause the bamboo to wither and die. 

Tools Needed

  • Shovel
  • Work gloves
  • Garbage bag
  • Garden hose 


  1. Using your garden hose, drench the ground around the bamboo, moving 2' in diameter around the plant.
  2. Once the soil is wet (but not muddy), start digging around the entire plant.
  3. Unearth the roots as you strike them. 
  4. Grab the roots with your gloved hands and pull them from the ground.
  5. When the roots stop giving, use your shovel to uncover more of the root system. 
  6. If you can't find any more roots, toss the ones you pulled up in a garbage bag.
  7. Now pull up the bamboo shoots and throw them in the bin. 
  8. Anytime you see new shoots, repeat steps 4 through 9.
Need to Know

It's almost impossible to get rid of all the rhizomes in one go, so you will see new bamboo shoots pop up after the first time. Just continue the process until you've finally cleared out all the roots. 

Use Traditional Herbicides to Kill Bamboo 

Many gardeners resist using chemical solutions because of the effect they can have on the ground, animals, and surrounding plants. However, if you have a few stubborn bamboo plants, you might be forced to use traditional herbicides to remove them. 

Materials Needed

  • Herbicide
  • Work gloves
  • Mask and goggles
  • Protective clothing
  • Garden sprayer 


  1. Put on your protective gear including a mask, goggles, and gloves. 
  2. Spray the entire bamboo plant with the herbicide, being careful not to spray other plants.
  3. The bamboo will turn yellow, then wither and die. Once it does, cut down the dead stalks.
  4. Repeat this method whenever new growth emerges until there's no more regrowth. 
Quick Tip

Worried about accidentally spraying nearby plants? Dip a paintbrush into the herbicide and paint the entire bamboo with the poison.

Say Goodbye to Bamboo for the Last Time 

Bamboo's tall shoots can add an interesting dynamic to your garden landscape. But should your bamboo spiral out of control, take matters into your own hands. The quicker you kill the bamboo with one of these methods, the sooner you can say bye-bye to it for good. 

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5 Simple Ways to Kill Bamboo & Keep It From Coming Back