First Popcorn, Now Bamboo

I knew that even though we were buying a “turn-key” home, we would have some work to do to make it OUR house, but I had no idea how much work that would really take – and all the fun things we’d find along the way to add to our to do list – which keeps growing faster than we can get stuff checked off!

After getting rid of the popcorn ceilings, re-texturing it with a less pronounced texture, and painting, we moved in and began work on the inside of the house by choosing paint colors for the walls in the living room and hallway (tan/brown), the master bedroom (gray) and the kitchen (two shades of green).  So far we’ve painted the living room and hung the curtains on 3 of the 4 windows.  It’s so good to have the room coming together – to a point where it’s actually almost “done for now!”

Outside, we hadn’t planned to do much right away. Someday, we’d like to tear out some of the concrete and put in grass and/or create a patio garden, add some fruit trees, move around some of the bushes, add some rose bushes, add a few other types of plants, etc.  But nothing urgent – until we discovered the BAMBOO!

I used to think bamboo was pretty cool, but didn’t really want it in my backyard. It was kind of sporadic throughout one particular area and there were a few shoots that appeared along our north fence in the planter. The shoots weren’t there when we bought the place, but within just a week or two, they were taller than the fence!

They had to go, so I set out to find out how to get rid of bamboo. After reading just a few websites about getting rid of it, I realized this was going to be a HUGE task – and according to several of the sites – a two- or three-year battle. Awesome.

We hadn’t really touched the bamboo except when John bought an edger earlier this week and decided to wee-whack the shorter, thinner stalks. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really do a whole lot to get rid of the root system, which means it only comes back again.

The best suggestion I found to get rid of this stuff is to cut the stalks about 4-6 inches from the ground (for the new shoots that weren’t that tall, I just cut them where I could), then immediately saturate the remaining stalk with herbicide. Apparently, the plant will draw the sap back into the root system after the stalk is cut, so if you spray it right away, it takes the chemicals with it and starts to poison the roots.  Unfortunately, this usually has to be done several times, and if you don’t dig up the roots and rhizomes, there’s a chance they can come back again.

So, that’s what I started doing this morning – digging up the root system.  Wait till you see what I discovered!

This is where we plan to plant a vegetable garden – hopefully sometime in the next year or so. It’s also where we’ve seen a lot of the bamboo shoots coming up in the two and a half weeks we’ve lived here. Fortunately, that haven’t gotten super tall like the other area, but the root system is basically running throughout this entire area of the yard.  You can see the areas where I started digging it up with a plastic spade (which ended up breaking – the reason I called it quits for the day). We’re going to have to get a real shovel and dig about 6-8 inches down to try to find all the major roots.

The pile of roots I pulled out of the (fairly) small area today. I was shocked when I discovered the first “log” buried in the ground. I realized this, what I thought would be semi-reasonable task, was going to be very time-consuming and a great workout!

The largest root I pulled up today was 2.5″ in diameter! It’s basically a HUGE version of the vertical shoots that come up – only it runs horizontal under the ground.

Some of the roots I just couldn’t get up. They weren’t like the other ones. They seemed to be more like a “claw” with the fingers going deep into the ground. From what I read online, it seems these are clumping bamboo vs. the running bamboo I had found throughout the rest of the yard. I’ve outlined the visible root in the photo above. This is about 6-8 inches under the ground. It’s going to take some major elbow grease and shovel to get that sucker out. So far, I’ve found two like this. I’m sure there are others.

Now, if you have bamboo too, I did read one website that said if you are successful at killing the roots and you don’t plan to plan anything in that area, you can actually leave these roots in the ground. Eventually, they’ll just rot away (yes, conflicting information from different sites). Since we plan to use this space for a vegetable garden, these roots have to go. Fortunately, I also read that as long as you get these huge roots up, the smaller roots won’t regenerate on their own, so you don’t have to get every single little tiny root (these are the roots that actually look more like the roots of normal weeds or plants).

Oh, one more photo…

These are the tall shoots I cut down today (different area of the yard). I didn’t even attempt to dig up these roots yet. I’m kind of afraid – they’re a lot taller  – about 6-7 feet! – and thicker than the shoots coming from the roots I dug up today. I’m kind of worried these roots are going to be like 6 inches or something crazy like that! Hopefully I’m wrong. Only time will tell!

I’ll keep you updated on our bamboo saga – and promise a tour of the house very soon!


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