Eighteen years ago Linda purchased a single stock of a bamboo plant from a local nursery. Over the years this plant grew and grew becoming bushier and taller. It grew to be twenty feet or more in height. It swayed in the wind and when we got one of our rare snowfalls it would bend over to the ground with the weight of snow then pop back up again once the snow melted. We really enjoyed this big, beautiful bamboo plant.
I built a trellis that made a nice entryway into the area around the bamboo plant. Under it, Linda placed a pagoda. I made a sitting area with decorative stepping stones to sit. I also installed an electric outlet, and a shelf on the fence to put your drinks and laptop onto. We called this our meditation corner.
We really enjoyed the view from our back door out into the yard toward the bamboo plant.
Over the years the bamboo plant in spring would send out a runner or two. We found these and cut them out. It was very manageable. But in the spring of 2020, the bamboo plant went into full reproductive mood. Bamboo sprouts started to pop up in our yard and our neighbor’s yard. As the shoots appeared we dug them up.
Then more and more runners appeared, then even more. This bamboo plant had decided it was going to take over everything around it within 100 feet it seemed. In just in a month and half, about 1,000 shoots appeaed! The bamboo plant had to go. We could no longer deal with it.
Online research and phone calls to a nursery that specialized in bamboo plants made it apparent that the only way to deal with this monster in the back yard was to totally remove it. We also learned at this time that every root had to be removed from the ground. If any root was missed it would begin to send up bamboo shoots as a new independent plant!
Our first step was to cut the bamboo plant down to the ground. Once the shoots had been cut we sprayed them with 30% vinegar compound trying to kill the thing. Its response was to send up even more shoots! It was determined to survive!
Still not grasping just how big of a project this was to become, we began to find and remove by hand the roots from the ground. The only way to remove the roots its to shove a needle bar into the ground under it. Then using a wooden block pry the root up out of the soil. Pure manual labor that takes a lot of time. We spent about three weeks doing this and working our way back to the main root ball of the plant.
Once we got within five feet of the root ball there were so many roots all intertwined with each other it become impossible to dig them out by hand anymore.
We also found that the bamboo roots had grown under the seven arborvitae trees along the property line. The bamboo roots were mixed in with the tree roots and there was no way to remove them. The trees had to be cut down and the stumps removed.
This bamboo war was just becoming bigger and bigger!
We now had our yard and the yard next door all torn up removing bamboo roots. Seven tree stumps and a large bamboo root ball still needed to be removed out of the ground. It was time to call in some heavy machinery. I could no longer deal with this.
A trip to Philchuck Rentals and a Kubota mini-excavator was rented. My son Brandan knew how to operate the excavator. A weekend date when he was off work was set and the machine rented.
I also rented a dump trailer to remove debris from the yard and take to the garbage transfer station.
Brandan went to work digging up the tree stumps.
Brandan removed the tree stumps and put them into a pile to load into the dump trailer I rented.
Once the tree stumps were removed and loaded Brandan next attacked the root ball of the bamboo plant. He tried at first to dig it out in one scoop and the excavator lifted right up off the ground! He had to resort to breaking it up with the bucket and taking it out in pieces.
Have you tried to undo a knotted ball of twine? That’s what this ball of bamboo roots were, all interwoven and thick! It would be impossible to remove by hand. This video tells the story.
Once the root ball was removed Brandan used the excavator bucket to scrape the ground and remove the remaining bamboo roots from the soil.
Next Brandan used the bucket claws of the mini-excavator to scrape the soil down about 10 inches in search of bamboo roots to remove them from the ground. I had outlined the area to be dug up with yellow marking paint for him.
Their was nothing left of the two backyards in the area where the bamboo plant had grown with all it’s roots and runners.
Brandan found one big and two smaller bamboo roots that I had missed when searching for them with my needle bar.
As Brandan searched for bamboo roots he piled up the soil into one big pile. I originally had planned to take all the soil to the garbage transfer station and put in new soil that I knew was free of bamboo roots. Once I figured out the cost be ton to take waste to the transfer station it became obvious that was not an economical thing to do.
I built a 3′ x 4′ frame on legs with a half inch wire cloth screen to sift the bamboo out of the soil. My son Laddrick came to help with this part of the project. We spent two days sifting though the dirt that Brandan had piled up. Brandan would put the dirt on the screen with the excavator, then Linda, Laddrick and I took turns working to shift the dirt. We sifted and removed a lot of bamboo from the dirt in those two days!
Once we finished shifting the dirt Brandan spread it and leveled it with the blade of the excavator.
Finally, the removal was complete! Now to restore some beauty to our garden!
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