wikiHow to Install a Bamboo Rhizome Barrier

While it is possible to control the spread of bamboo with easier methods, a bamboo barrier is the longest lasting and lowest maintenance method of containing aggressive forms of bamboo.


  1. Image titled Install a Bamboo Rhizome Barrier Step 1
    Determine the area to contain the bamboo in. The larger the area, the larger your bamboo will be able to grow. Those focused exclusively on the vigor of bamboo recommend as much as a 30 feet (9.1 m). diameter for large species. However, it is possible to have a reasonably large healthy plant with as little as one square yard of ground for it to grow in.
  2. Image titled Install a Bamboo Rhizome Barrier Step 2
    Remove or plan on killing any rhizomes outside of the contained area. Killing well established bamboo is very difficult, so removing the rhizomes upfront is probably the better option.
  3. Image titled Install a Bamboo Rhizome Barrier Step 3
    Choose and purchase the rhizome barrier. Bamboo can be very strong, and rhizomes have a sharp tip when growing. Concrete will crack over time and allow the bamboo to escape. Metal will eventually rust through, and poses a hazard where it must stick up above ground. For best results, use a true HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) barrier of at least 60 mil thickness. The American Bamboo Socia In hard clay soil, some say it is okay to use only a 24 inch (61.0 cm) wide barrier. However, a 30 wide barrier is safer. For areas where the soil is sandy and loose, a 36 inch (91.4 cm) wide barrier may be required.
  4. Image titled Install a Bamboo Rhizome Barrier Step 4
    Dig a trench all the way around the area to be contained, about 2 inches (5.1 cm) shallower than the width of your rhizome barrier.
  5. Image titled Install a Bamboo Rhizome Barrier Step 5
    Compact the bottom of the trench as well as possible. Keep the topsoil that you dug out from falling back in. You want this to be hard uninviting clay in case a rhizome ever makes it down that far.
  6. Image titled Install a Bamboo Rhizome Barrier Step 6
    Place the barrier into the trench. Get it where you want it to be, and do your best to angle it away from the enclosed area. You want any rhizome that hits the barrier in the future to be directed up by the barrier. You do not want the rhizome to go down, as this can lead to a rhizome escaping under the barrier even if it is good and deep.
  7. Image titled Install a Bamboo Rhizome Barrier Step 7
    Close the ends of the barrier. Either use steel closure strips with a less than 3 inch (7.6 cm) overlap, or overlap the ends by at least four feet and seal the overlap at both ends with double sided tape. Bamboo can escape through very small openings, so make sure the seal is really good.
  8. Image titled Install a Bamboo Rhizome Barrier Step 8
    Begin filling in around the barrier. Keep the barrier angled outward. Pack the bottom half of the fill as tightly as possible. Let the top half remain loose.
  9. Image titled Install a Bamboo Rhizome Barrier Step 9
    The installation is complete. Your bamboo should not be able to escape underground. It will eventually send rhizomes over the 2 inch (5.1 cm) high above-ground part of the barrier. However, these are easily spotted and clipped with a quick inspection once or twice per year.


  • Be aware that bamboo can become more aggressive if it is put in poor soil conditions. Instead of weakening the plant so it can't go far, it causes the plant to put all of its energy into sending out long or deep rhizomes looking for better conditions. So, fertilize, mulch, and water your bamboo to make it less aggressive about getting out.
  • For best results, keep the topsoil and subsoil separate when digging the trench. Then, when filling the trench back in, use the subsoil for the bottom half, and the topsoil for the top half. This will help make rhizomes less likely to go down, because the low nutrition content of the subsoil is relatively uninviting.
  • Add 2 inches (5.1 cm) of mulch all over within the barrier. Not only is this really good for bamboo, but it will also encourage the plant to keep its rhizomes near the surface.


  • Metal barriers pose a hazard as sharp edges stick up above ground. Stick with HDPE as it is more effective and easier to work with anyway.
  • Even when containing very large areas, barriers do reduce the quality of the environment for your bamboo. Because they block all air and water flow as well as rhizomes, it is somewhat like making the bamboo's house a little more stuffy. In most cases, this will only have a minor effect on the bamboo's health, but it is not a good idea if you are trying to grow a prize winning specimen.

Things You'll Need

  • A trenching tool, mechanical or otherwise.
  • A compacting tool, such as a 4' length of 4X4 or similar heavy object with a flat end.
  • HDPE Rhizome barrier.
  • Barrier closure strips or an extra long barrier and some double sided tape.

Article Info

Categories: Garden Pests and Weeds