Applying a chemical or digging up the roots should kill bamboo, a rapidly spreading pest

BACKYARD Q&A

April 20, 2003|By Dennis Bishop | Dennis Bishop,Special to the Sun

We recently purchased a home that has a large stand of bamboo along the rear property line. Is this an invasive plant, and how can we get rid of it?

With few exceptions, bamboos are considered invasive plants in Maryland. They spread more or less rapidly by enlarged underground roots called rhizomes and can be very difficult to manage.

If you are not opposed to using chemicals for control, I would recommend killing the stand with a spray that contains the chemical glyphosate. Do not try to spray the full plant canopy. Rather, cut down the entire stand to 6-12 inches from the ground and allow the plants to begin regrowing. Once the plants have put out a flush of new leaves, they can be sprayed. The young, tender leaves will take up the glyphosate more readily than mature leaves and will pass the chemical along to the rest of the plant. Be sure to read the label carefully and spray the entire leaf surface with the highest recommended chemical concentration. The plants should begin to die in seven to 10 days, but a second spraying will likely be required and should be applied two weeks after the initial spraying.

If you do not wish to use chemicals, you will need to repeatedly dig the plants until the entire root mass is removed. This is doable, but very laborious, even when the bamboo stand is small.

I purchased grass seed to repair my lawn last fall, but with the drought I did not have an opportunity to plant it. I would like to replant this spring. Should I use this seed or purchase new seed?

It depends on the seed and how it was stored. If the seed was disease free and was stored in a cool, dry place, it is more likely to be usable. However, even in the best of situations, the quality of grass seed declines over time. I would inspect the seed carefully to be sure that no disease or insect damage occurred over the winter.

Healthy seeds should be plump and full, and although they are naturally light, they carry some weight. Should you be unsure, take a look at them through a magnifying glass. Damaged seeds will appear hollow on the inside and will lack a full covering. Seed in this condition should be discarded.

Even if the seed appears healthy, you may want to mix it with some new seed. Fresh seed has a higher germination rate and will increase your chances for success. Because the prime time for planting grass seed is quickly passing, be sure to plant your seed at the soonest possible time.

Checklist

1. This is a good time to prune early spring flowering shrubs like forsythia, quince and winter jasmine. They can be pruned immediately after flowering.

2. Most summer vegetables and flowers can be planted now in the warmer climate of Baltimore City. Keep in mind, though, that the last frost dates for Baltimore County are one to two weeks away.

3. Look out for the tents of eastern tent caterpillar in wild cherry, crab apple, and other trees. When infested branches are within reach, they can be pruned out.

Dennis Bishop is an urban horticulture educator for the Baltimore office of the Mary-land Cooperative Extension. If you have a gardening or pest problem, you can call the Home and Garden Information Center hot line (8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday) at 800-342-2507. You can also e-mail questions, order publications and diagnose plant problems by visiting the Web site, www.hgic.umd.edu.

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