Major bamboo removal in our front yard

This post is both of a source of sadness and excitement for me. Why? Because we're losing another clumping bamboo, leaving just two. That's a considerable decrease since the early days of this blog when it was called “Bamboo and More.” I still love bamboo, but since our garden is so small, every square foot matters—and bamboo takes up a significant chunk of real estate.

Since Monday was curbside yard waste pickup here in Davis, I decided to use the weekend to remove the clump of Asian lemon bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides 'Viridivittata') in the front yard:

It's been a huge presence in this spot for many years:

It took several saw blades, but my trusty reciprocating saw made relatively quick work of what was a surprisingly massive biomass.

When you look at the after picture, you realize how much space this clump had taken up:

OK, if you're fortunate enough to garden on a multi-acre property, you might be laughing out loud, but in my universe, this is a pretty sizable area.

I dragged the cut-off culms into street where they made a sizable pile. A neighbor was able to use a good half of the culms for a garden project so this is what was left for yard waste pickup:

Lest you get the wrong idea, the yard waste folks would not have picked up such a jumbled mess. We needed to make piles no more than 6 ft. in length, which required quite a bit of cutting. My hard-working wife did most of that.

When you look at the following photos, another major benefit of not having the bamboo becomes obvious: much more sun for the plants outside and inside the fence.

Because this clump of bamboo had been so tall and leaning every which way—but especially out over the street—the plants underneath it had to contend with a fairly significant amount of shade. This had caused some of them, including the Aloe excelsa on the left in the next photo, to lean forward.

Left to right: Aloe 'Yemeni Gold' (green plant on the left), Aloe excelsa, Yucca 'Bright Star' (front), Aloe marlothii

The area on the right—the Santa Cruz Island ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. aspleniifolius) that replaced the nasty Bradford pear and the Agave 'Mr Ripple' in the Corten container—was in significant shade most of the day. We should now see much faster growth there.

The two clumping bamboos in the background—Bambusa oldhamii and Bambusa chungii 'Barbellata'—are all that's left now in the bamboo department

The area inside the fence also gets more sun now:

In the winter, the extra sun will be much appreciated by the plants in the smaller succulent mound (on the left in the photo below):

One final look at the wide open space where the bamboo used to be:

The final frontier will be the removal of what's left in the ground—a virtually solid mass of culm stumps. The first thing I'm going to try is salpeter (potassium nitrate), the active ingredient in many tree stump removal products. I have no idea if it will work, but we'll see soon enough. One thing is certain: I won't be able to plant anything new until the mass is gone.

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  1. Wow, that looks like it was a brutal job. Even with a trusty reciprocating saw.

    You'll need to be extra nice to Heather for chopping the mass up, too. It will not re-sprout? I would think you'd need a backhoe to get that root mass out...again, wow.

    When they did some re-working near the entrance at the Huntington and took out a giant mass of oldhamii, they appeared to have used a bulldozer. Takes a brave person to grow bamboo. Maybe an even braver one to remove bamboo!

    1. The bamboo will definitely put up a fight. But all I have to do is keep it as dry as possible and remove any sprouts. Eventually it will exhaust itself. In the meantime, I'll work on destroying the mass from the top.

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  3. Wow that's some bizarre spam above (not Hoov).

    And also wow... what a job! So much more sun! And less leaf litter too. I can't wait to see what happens next...

    1. The spam is so bizarre, I decided to leave it. Maybe somebody who reads this post will need a spell like that some day, ha ha.

      The most immediate changes will be new plantings outside the fence. I'm in the process of figuring out what to plant where....

  4. My what long legs you have in the roadside photo. Haha. Must have been a hard decision to remove the bamboo but I think the area looks better as the bamboo skewed the scale of everything else. I wish you well in your culm removal strategies.

    1. I hate removing a mature plant, esp. when there's some emotional attachment, but I try to look forward more than backward.

  5. Great work! And a wise decision. It is always difficult to remove a thriving plant. But you have gained sun and space, both worth the effort. I remember the Bamboo and More blog! So many plants and new ideas since then.

    1. Space is such a precious commodity that I can't pass up an opportunity to optimize how I use it.

  6. Your timing is good as hopefully the fall/winter sun will be mild enough to prevent your succulents from scorching. I love the look of bamboo but the job you're currently facing to rid yourself of the culm stumps is what keeps me from planting it.

    I found that very same spam message this morning - ugh!

    1. I haven't noticed any scorching yet but I haven't looked too carefully. Fortunately, the sun is much more gentle at this time of year.

      That spam message is something else!


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