Goodbye bamboo!

The bamboo is gone! My wife and I chopped it to the ground last weekend, her using loppers and me with the chainsaw. The chainsaw does the job much more quickly, but the bamboo frequently grabs the blade and pulls it loose from the bar, so while I’m fiddling with the saw my wife was lopping away. In any case, the deed is done, and bamboo is piled into neat stacks that will be disposed of one way or another sometime in the future.

It’s best to dig up the roots so the bamboo doesn’t grow back, but that’s a much bigger task, one that I’m not up for in the heat of summer. I figure that new shoots will pop up for the next couple years, but I’ve been chopping those out for years, and I don’t expect it to be any worse until the bamboo loses its vigor without foliage for photosynthesis and finally gives up. The stubble left behind will be covered over with soil and wood chips and left to decay.

The two dead hornbeams have been cut to the ground. My son (Jake) dropped by to help, somewhat out of the goodness of his heart, but also because my wife and I give him a little money to help with such things. It was a hundred and four degrees in the afternoon when we started, so most people would tell you that there ‘s no amount of money to make it worth their while to do hard physical labor when it’s that hot. He didn’t complain … much.

There was considerable consternation at the start in figuring the height of the trees and the path they would take in falling when cut. The obvious path to avoid the nearby sourwood and golden rain tree was over the driveway and directly towards the garage. Jake and I did a bit of figuring and guessed that the tallest of the hornbeams was about forty feet, and the measurement from the tree to the garage was forty feet, so there was potential for trouble.

We cut cautiously at first, but the tallest of the branches came just a bit short of the house, so fortunately there was little excitement. After cutting the hornbeams into manageable pieces we moved onto the blue spruce. Its lower branches had been shaded by the tall bamboo so that there were no live limbs below eight feet. I considered limbing the spruce higher and leaving the top, but decided this would look odd, so I decided to cut it down. This was probably a mistake, or at least our cutting was a mistake since we had to land the falling tree uphill between a weeping cherry and the last remaining hornbeam. As the cut was made it was apparent that the spruce would fall downhill, directly towards a fernleaf Japanese maple and a variegated ‘Silver Cloud’ redbud (above).

At this point there was no choice but to make the best of the bad situation, and try to guide the spruce to do the least amount of damage. The last cut was made with me straining at the rope to pull the falling spruce precisely at an angle that would barely avoid both trees. Of course, the spruce didn’t cooperate at all, and it came crashing down on edge of the redbud. It missed the Japanese maple entirely, but we could see some broken branches on the redbud through the massive spruce.

At this point Jake and I were hot, bothered, and discouraged. No further damage would result from letting the whole mess sit overnight, so we cleaned up and called it a day.

The following morning I headed out with the chainsaw to clean up a bit, and to clear branches of the spruce to check on the redbud. Fortunately, the damage wasn’t too severe, though a few large branches had to be removed. I discovered that another large branch that had been damaged by snow a few years ago was broken badly enough that I cut it off, but once they were cut I stood back and the tree didn’t look too bad. The gaps from the missing branches will fill in quickly enough (a year or two), so I can now call the first phase of the bamboo removal project complete.

The next step will be to rent a chipper to dispose of the bamboo and branches, then to cover the area with soil and compost. In September I’ll plant the area, and before long the bamboo will be only a memory. But, not a fond one.

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2 thoughts on “Goodbye bamboo!

  1. YOU cut down a BLUE??? OMG…how dreadful. You could have been creative and planted around the blue until it revitalized itself! Naughty!

    • I’m really sorry, but I was envisioning that the spruce would look like something out of Dr. Seuss if I left it. I’m the last one to cut plants out, but it had to go. If I had taken care years ago not to let the bamboo invade the area surrounding the spruce there wouldn’t have been a problem, but this isn’t the first and won’t be the last time I’ve neglected to take care of something until it festers into a bigger issue.

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