Running bamboo is a fast-growing, invasive grass with a complex, horizontal root system called rhizomes that aggressively spread underground, as much as 15 feet per year.
Once planted, running bamboo can eventually take over yards and travel across property lines, creating issues for adjacent property owners and local jurisdictions.
The new ordinance requires property owners to contain running bamboo on their property and prevent it from spreading beyond their property line. Property owners may incur penalties if they allow bamboo to spread beyond their property.
Use a Barrier to Contain Running Bamboo
Bamboo root barriers made of polypropylene, metal, or high-density polyethylene (plastic) may be effective to contain running bamboo.
- The root barrier should be 36” in height, with approximately 30” below ground, and 6” above ground.
- The above ground portion of the barrier should go straight up toward the bamboo, so that any shoots or rhizomes hitting the barrier will be deflected toward the bamboo owner’s property and away from adjacent properties, making the rhizomes more visible to spot and cut.
Quick and early removal of bamboo can reduce the long-term impacts to surrounding trees and vegetation.
- Continued removal of new plants and sprouts will be necessary to limit new bamboo growth.
- Monitor treated areas regularly to control new seedlings or regrowth.
- Various herbicides are available to kill bamboo but should always be used in strict accordance with the label’s instructions.
Digging out bamboo requires heavy equipment and coordination with Virginia 811.
Mowing And Herbicide Application
Cut the bamboo as low to the ground as possible and immediately apply a non-selective herbicide, in strict accordance with the label’s instructions. A brush killer containing a high concentration (20-25%) of glyphosate or triclopyr should be applied to the cut tops of the bamboo within one minute of cutting.
Subsequent herbicide applications of the leaves with a 5% concentration of glyphosate or triclopyr will be necessary to contain the bamboo growth for approximately 2-5 years.
Regular mowing (weekly or as needed depending on the season) may help reduce growth. Use the lowest deck setting on the mower. If using herbicide, wait to mow until the leaves die.
Put Bamboo in the Trash
- Cut bamboo should be in sections no longer than 6 feet for disposal.
- Residents should include all cut bamboo (roots and culms) with trash pickup - not as yard waste.
Alternately, cut culms can be dried and used as plant stakes, vine supports or materials for craft projects.
Need More Advice on Containing or Removing Running Bamboo?
Master Gardeners are trained volunteer educators as part of Virginia Cooperative Extension. They work within their local communities to encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practices through sustainable landscape management education and training.
Help Spread the Word
Have a community or homeowner association meeting coming up? Here are resources in multiple languages to share:
Code Compliance Enforcement Begins Jan. 1, 2023
The county's Department of Code Compliance will enforce the new ordinance beginning January 1, 2023.
If you have questions not answered here, reach out to Code Compliance for help.
Invasive Plant Species
Running bamboo can be destructive to the natural environment and suppress native plant species. Roots can push through brickwork, drains, cavity walls, patios, and exploit cracks or weaknesses in concrete.
Learn more about what property owners can do to help stop invasive species.