After reading Heather Jo Flores's article on bamboo in the backyard ("To Bamboo or Not to Bamboo," Feb. 18), I wanted to add my two cents. I agree that a neglected grove of bamboo can be a bear to deal with. The bamboo in the picture was probably put in 20-plus years ago.
People didn't understand the plant, neglected it, the problem started. Never use herbicide. It's not the panacea it's made to be. A Bobcat or backhoe would be the fastest and easiest way to destroy a grove. If that's impossible to do in your backyard, hire a lot of young backs with bamboo shovels, Sawzalls, strong boards for leverage and some patience.
Rhizomes grow in the top 18 to 20 inches of the soil and spread out from the grove. Keep chipping away at the main bio mass, it does give. Plastic root barrier is very effective for containing the rhizomes. I use it. It's not fool proof; it's only as good as you are a gardener. The plant moves out for survival, you always have to be aware of that. It's not a matter of "win." Do not use weed cloth or flat sheet metal, bamboo loves it! It acts like a conduit for the rhizomes because of the air and moisture zone it creates. You'll have a bigger mess.
The name says it all, clumping bamboos do not run, but yes they are a substantial plant. Bamboo or any plant larger than an annual should never be planted on a property line, plant 3 to 4 feet off of it. The plant will eventually fill the void space. I've lived in harmony with bamboo in my yard for over 20 years. Educating the public is always the hardest part of the job. Gardening is nurturing, plants and people.
Linda Simpson, Arcata