Will Bamboo Damage Artificial Grass? (PRO Tips)
Bamboo is an attractive, fast-growing grass that is grown around the world to make paper, furniture, fences and lots of other eco-friendly products without having to cut down trees. It is also grown as an ornamental plant and makes a great, natural privacy screen.
Unfortunately, bamboo is a pretty aggressive grower that does not always stay where it is planted. Running bamboos are the varieties that can really take over a yard, but even clumping bamboo can get a bit out of hand. And, to make matters more complicated, it does not simply spread out across the ground like ground covers that are easy to cut back or remove; it spreads through underground rhizomes that can cause shoots to come up throughout your lawn, flowerbeds, vegetable garden or walkways.
Because of this, some homeowners have to take measures to keep the bamboo from taking over their lawns, gardens or entire yards.
It is bad enough if the bamboo is coming from your own garden where you can make decisions about its fate, but it can be even worse when the bamboo is coming over from a neighbor’s yard, so you cannot just remove the issue with herbicides or some manual labor.
Will Bamboo Damage Artificial Grass?
Knowing that bamboo shoots can show up far from where the bamboo was originally planted, it is understandable that people considering synthetic turf are concerned about whether or not bamboo can damage artificial grass.
While this is not a common occurrence, it is possible for bamboo to affect the look or function of an artificial grass lawn over time. The proper installation of synthetic turf includes compaction, adding sub-base and installing a weed barrier fabric beneath the grass. This combination is usually enough to ward off most weeds or other plants that may try to grow up through the backing.
This is usually also enough to ward off bamboo shoots that try to break through. However, bamboo rhizomes are quite tenacious, and it is possible for shoots to work their way through all of these layers to try to push through the soil and fake grass to spread. Therefore, it is best to avoid planting bamboo – particularly running bamboo varieties – near an artificial grass lawn.
If you have a bamboo border adjacent to your lawn that you want to keep or have nearby bamboo that could impact your artificial grass, your best bet is to install a physical barrier to contain the bamboo. This way, you can enjoy both your manufactured lawn and your bamboo.
How to Keep Bamboo from Spreading
Bamboo is often a wanted plant and can serve many purposes, including providing a great privacy screen, beautifying your yard and providing habitat for wildlife. If you have bamboo in your yard that you would like to keep, you can contain it in a specific area by installing a physical barrier.
Unfortunately, conventional landscaping borders are not enough in this case. Because bamboo spreads by rhizomes, it is necessary to block their way both under and above the ground. To do this, you must dig a trench and install a solid border that goes at least two feet underground and stands at least about six inches above the ground. You can do this with wood, concrete or metal, but it needs to be solid. This means that something like bricks will not work as well, since there will be spaces through which rhizomes could grow. It is also important to note that a wood barrier will only work until the wood decomposes. After that, your rhizomes will, once again, be free to roam.
Some gardeners will recommend using weed barrier fabrics to stop bamboo from spreading, but most weed barriers are no match for the tenacity of rhizomes.
How to Remove Bamboo Without Herbicides
Bamboo is incredibly resilient and tough, which means it is not easy to kill. Even most herbicides designed to kill unwanted weeds, grasses and plants cannot kill it. If you want to use an herbicide to get rid of bamboo, the most common choice is glyphosate. If you think you might want to go this route, please read this fact sheet from the National Pesticide Information Center before you handle this product.
If you read the fact sheet or are already familiar with the many concerns regarding the use of glyphosate, you may want to remove unwanted bamboo without herbicides. This is possible, but it takes time, effort and patience.
Digging it out is the most common way of removing bamboo without herbicides. This involves digging out the clump or culms and removing as much of the root system as you can get to. This will remove the majority of the bamboo, but it will not stop your bamboo problem. There are sure to be rhizomes left in the soil, which means you will have to stay diligent to keep removing the bamboo as soon as it appears. And, when it does appear, be sure to dig down to try to remove as much of the plant as possible.
While this is the most common bamboo removal method used by homeowners, this is actually not the method recommended by the American Bamboo Society. You can read their complete tutorial here, but here are the basics.
The first step is to cut down your bamboo to ground level. Then, fertilize and water it to encourage it to grow back. Once it begins to grow, cut it down again. Keep cutting down the shoots as they appear until the shoots stop appearing. According to the American Bamboo Society,
“This will exhaust the energy stored in the rhizomes underground. Without green leaves to photosynthesize and produce new energy, they will no longer be able to send up new shoots. The rhizomes will be left behind, but will rot away.”
If you would like to keep some of your bamboo, remove the clumps you no longer want. Once you feel confident that you have either removed or exhausted all of the rhizomes, install a physical barrier to keep your wanted bamboo from spreading throughout your yard.