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Can You Pour Concrete Over Bamboo? [Or Will It Break Through?]

Ever wondered if your bamboo will destroy your property after hearing stories of how the shoots can grow out of the pavement and damage a home's foundations? Or are you wondering if pouring concrete over the bamboo will stop it from spreading?  Worry no more, as we have taken the time to research the answers to these questions.

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You can pour concrete over bamboo, but it's not worth it. While bamboo does not have the strength to break through solid concrete, certain varieties will inevitably grow through cracks and holes as time goes by. This may damage your property or lead to uneven pavement, as the roots spread underneath and grow. 

You need to determine the type of bamboo you have before deciding whether to totally eliminate or control it. Sound like a tedious task? Continue reading, as we will cover the hows and the whys to arm you with the knowledge on how to proceed based on the type of bamboo you have. 

Multiple bamboo roots intertwined in the ground, Can You Pour Concrete Over Bamboo? [Or Will It Break Through?]

How Do You Keep Bamboo From Spreading?

Pouring concrete over bamboo doesn't sound like the best idea. That's because concrete may not last, and by the time you see bamboo shoots growing through the cracks or lifting up the pavement, it may already be too late. You'll need to spend more money and time and redo the concrete pour.

If you want to keep bamboo from spreading, here are the common methods gardeners use:

Sub-Surface Barrier Control

You may choose to utilize a sub-surface barrier such as metal or polyethylene sheeting buried to a depth of at least a foot below the rhizome layer to prevent the bamboo from crossing. This is because rhizomes of runner bamboo only grow shallow, so blocking them at this depth will be enough to contain them. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is an affordable modern material commonly available for use and requires a clamp with nuts and bolts to secure.

This will not stop the growth but will control its direction. It can divert the spread inward towards the grove or upward where the bamboo may easily be pruned. There is a chance that the rhizomes will go through the barrier if it is made of weak material. Eventually, most barriers will need replacing. 

Make sure that your barrier is approximately 12 inches deeper than the depth of the roots. This means that if your deepest rhizome goes as deep as 12 inches, you should choose a barrier that is at least double than that, plus another 10 to 12 inches to peak above ground.

Check out this bamboo rhizome barrier on Amazon.

Trench Control

You may choose to dig trenches all around the bamboo edge. The trenches should be approximately a foot wide and deep enough to cover the rhizome layer. Digging trenches is a simple and cost-effective way of preventing the spread of bamboo. You should periodically monitor if rhizomes are peaking through from the grove side, so you may prune them before they reach the other side of the trench.

Container Growing

Water bamboo plant placed in a pot

Another way of controlling the desired bamboo is to plant it in pots or large planters. You can transfer existing bamboo to a container and remove the remaining from the ground by digging it up, including the rhizomes. This will ensure that no rhizome will have the chance to spread, as there is a barrier and height that prevents it from reaching an adjacent growth medium.

Check out this large planter on Amazon.

Manual Control

You can set aside a 20-foot buffer around the bamboo grove and mow or cut any culm that is sprouting. Continuous mowing or culling culm shoots may exhaust below-ground resources and eventually prevent regrowth. Knowing this, you may choose to just initially cut down the shoots you see and stomp on the culm as they shoot out from time to time. 

Another way is to dig out the rhizome that connects the wayward culm to the main grove. The important thing is to remove the rhizomes, as the roots will not grow a bamboo shoot by themselves. You may choose to excavate the rhizome system at the very beginning. However, you still have to monitor from time to time and eventually repeat the process in the future.

Herbicide Control

Depending on your preference, you may choose to use some herbicide or chemical treatment to kill and prevent the excess spread of the bamboo culm. Be aware that using herbicides or chemicals in your garden should be the last option to choose, as it can have a negative effect on your garden ecosystem and on your family's health. If you choose this solution, consult your product manufacturer on the best application procedure as well as how to apply it safely. 

Choose an all-around herbicide with the active ingredient glyphosate. This is because glyphosate will only kill plants in direct contact. To use, cut the bamboo first and allow it to grow to about 3 feet in height, then apply when the new leaves have expanded. 

 

Check out this herbicide available on Amazon.

How Does Bamboo Grow?

There are over 91 genera and over 1000 species of bamboo in the world. It's smart to understand what classification of bamboo you are dealing with in order to determine if it is an aggressively spreading type before making any decisions on how to best control it. Depending on your species of bamboo, there are two general ways of growth. 

Clumper Bamboos

The clump of bamboo tree

Clumping varieties grow densely together. They also do not spread horizontally like their runner counterparts. They are not considered invasive because they grow slowly, do not spread much, and do not grow well in cold climates. They are not invasive and don't cause as many problems as runner bamboos.

Runner Bamboos

Bamboo plant in the process of decanting

Runner bamboos spread horizontally through their rhizomes. They are generally more able to live in colder climates than clumping bamboos, and many species grow outward quickly. The whole rhizome network is interconnected, making it a challenge to control them.

Of the two classifications, it is the runner bamboo that is invasive. This is the kind of bamboo that damages property and pavements, as it spreads, finding and exploiting cracks and holes. 

You can see how runners spread sideways through their rhizomes. Watch this video for more details:

Most bamboo species are not considered invasive. While runner bamboo may have the potential to spread aggressively if improperly maintained, it requires special conditions to run wild and reach natural areas. In cases where it does, eradication is relatively simple. 

How Deep Are Bamboo Roots?

Bamboo shoot in the forest nature are raw material to cook

Clumping bamboos usually have roots that can go down 2 to 3 feet, while running bamboos that spread aggressively stay fairly shallow at less than 12 inches.

Will Epsom Salt and Vinegar Kill Bamboo?

Sea salt epsom in wood plate

Epsom salt and vinegar or a combination of both will kill bamboo. However, this will only be effective in the early stages of growth. Part of the problem is that it will require intensive and continuous effort while leaving the portion of the soil barren for other plants to grow. It may even affect surrounding plants, depending on the water runoff.

In Closing

Pouring concrete over bamboo may not be the ideal method if you are interested in controlling its spread. This is because there is no guarantee that the cement will not have minute cracks that the bamboo roots may exploit. Eventually, it can lead to damage while spreading underneath to other areas of your property.

If you want to prevent your bamboo from spreading, the best way to do so is by using a strong impermeable barrier. You may also dig a trench and periodically sever the exposed rhizomes protruding from the grove side. Mechanical excavation and periodic killing of the exposed shoots or culms may be the least expensive solution if you're not keen on using herbicide to control the bamboo spread.

Before you go, you may want to check out these other articles:

15 Landscaping Ideas Around House Foundation

11 Great Gravel Driveway Edging And Border Ideas