Making a forest area usable for kids and fun for adults


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Hello all, this is my first post on GF and I'm looking for a bit of advice on what to do with some wooded area overrun with a type of bamboo called kumazasa.

I've got a block of land in a mountain in central Japan. About 350 tsubo (I think ~1000 square meters?). Currently it's a nice wooded area however it's not been touched in 30 years and it's so thick with kumazasa it's impossible to even step foot in. If possible I would like to remove the kumazasa so my kid can play amongst the trees.

Is there a way to remove or suppress bamboo without destroying the surrounding trees? Or any other suggestions / ideas on what to do with this area so it has some value to my family?

I'm currently negotiating with the neighbour to buy their block and house as well. That area has been about 1/2 cleared so we don't need to worry about clearing the woods into a fully open space - just making it into something fun.

Please excuse the poor attached photo. The Bamboo is bent over flat under the snow (you can see some bamboo leaves poking out of the front of the snow). As soon as the snow melts it pops back up to about shoulder height and the trees are impenetrable.
 

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Good luck with your project. Removing bamboo, even the clumping variety which you have, is a LOT of work. I have tried doing it manually but gave up. I ended up having to use chemicals (Roundup/ glysophate) You cut down the plant to ground level. I used a chainsaw. Remove all the debris and wait until new leaves start to appear and spray. It took 3 applications before nothing grew back.
 
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Bamboo propagates by underground runners and tubers. If you go in with a tiller you will without doubt multiply your bamboo. Each little separate piece the tiller chops up will become another plant. Also the runners and tubers can go as deep as 2-3 feet underground. You would have to literally sift all of the soil and even then what about the ones the tiller couldn't reach. I started out using a pick and shovel but quickly found out that digging them up was a waste of time and effort. Granted the bamboo I had to get rid of was the spreading type not the clumping type but in 30 years the type you have has spread widely, deeply and thickly. Using a string trimmer with a cutting blade might be easier than a chainsaw. It all depends on the diameter of the trunks of the bush. Using a brush hog might cut the trunks close enough to the ground but the one I have only cuts to 4 inches and I don't think that is close enough to the ground. After you have sprayed and finally killed it you would then have to come back and cut it down to ground level to avoid puncturing your feet and tripping over it. I hate to use chemicals on anything but it is the only sure way to kill bamboo. Even with chemicals it will still take at least a year to permanently get rid of it, probably 2 years.

Glysophate only works on growing young green plants/leaves of bamboo. I know of no other chemical that will kill the bamboo by just spraying it without killing all of your trees as well.
 
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@Beverly Thanks!

@Chuck and @mgmine Thanks for the advice.

Maybe the best approach is a combination where I lop everything off as low as possible, wait for fresh growth and then use glysophate on it. Once it's dead down to the roots it should be OK to use a bush hog + tiller right?

Two more quick questions
1. In everyone's experience is roundup going to kill the rest of the forest? Or does it really only kill the things it gets on the leaves of?

2. Will a tiller destroy the roots of trees and kill them? Or are they generally deep enough that losing the top 30cm isn't a problem?
 
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If you want to create a forest for children and adults, using RoundUp should not be an option.
 
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@Beverly Thanks!

@Chuck and @mgmine Thanks for the advice.

Maybe the best approach is a combination where I lop everything off as low as possible, wait for fresh growth and then use glysophate on it. Once it's dead down to the roots it should be OK to use a bush hog + tiller right?

Two more quick questions
1. In everyone's experience is roundup going to kill the rest of the forest? Or does it really only kill the things it gets on the leaves of?

2. Will a tiller destroy the roots of trees and kill them? Or are they generally deep enough that losing the top 30cm isn't a problem?
Bamboo is difficult to kill under any circumstance and just lopping off a portion of the plant here and there, then spraying will not work. It must be cut off at ground level or as close to it as you can get. Roundup will not hurt your trees unless you spray the leaves and even then hardly any damage as Roundup mainly works on grasses and broadleaf weeds. A tiller will dig and tear up everything down to a maximum of about 10 inches.. A tiller WILL NOT WORK. Glysophate looses it effectiveness within 2 weeks. When using it wear proper clothing and keep the kids out. After 2 weeks there isn't any danger. I would not recommend it unless it was the only feasible way of dong what you want to do.
 
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In a previous house, I used RoundUp to kill Canadian thistle, when all else failed. Like bamboo, the roots run very deep and mechanically damaging them only makes the damn stuff come back more profusely.

It took quite a few applications, as the new growth emerged. IIRC, it's more effective on somewhat more mature leaves. It may have taken the better part of one summer to finally eradicate it. I tried to be selective, even using a paint brush instead of spray, to target the thistle only.

Anyway, eventually I got rid of the thistle and the grass and clover grew back very healthy. I wouldn't recommend indiscriminate use of glycophosphate, but if you're out of other options, the stuff really works. And as I understand it gets broken down in the soil quite quickly.

I also used it here two years ago when nothing else would kill a huge Virginia creeper vine that was growing into my foundation and up the side of the house. Cutting it back to the roots didn't help, because the roots I couldn't get to just regenerated.
 
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The thing with any invasive plant is keeping up with it. Once it's cut down it doesn't grow into a thick huge plant over night. I recommended the roto tiller not only to help with getting rid of it but also smoothing out the ground. It smoothing isn't necessary then skip the tiller and go straight to cutting it down and keep it cut down. Once its at ground level a mower will it there, you just can't let it get back to where it was.
 
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The thing with any invasive plant is keeping up with it. Once it's cut down it doesn't grow into a thick huge plant over night. I recommended the roto tiller not only to help with getting rid of it but also smoothing out the ground. It smoothing isn't necessary then skip the tiller and go straight to cutting it down and keep it cut down.
I don't mean to argumentative but the poster is dealing with bamboo, a woody plant that grows quickly underground. The area to be cleaned up is for a play area for kids. If it is not killed at ground level and you just mow it once a week what will you have? You will have 1 1/2" sharp stobbs everywhere, about the same thing as a bed of nails. Nothing you would want to walk upon. Getting rid of it with a tiller is impossible. This plant reproduces from underground runners and tubers. Imagine what would happen as you are happily tilling along and the tiller chops up a tuber into 100 little pieces. You get the area tilled and you then grab your rake and you rake up all of the debris you can see. How many of those little 100 pieces did you rake up. Half of them? You have just planted 50 more bamboo plants. Multiply that by a 1000. Or more in an area the poster describes. If this were an ordinary invasive weed or invasive brush that reproduces from seed then yes you could get rid of it by cutting it down and keeping it cut, but not bamboo.
 
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Thanks for the input everyone!

Looking at how much time (and effort) this will take I think I'm going to reach out to a local professional and have them do the removal. I guess being surrounded by this type of bamboo they should be experienced in removing it. Well that and I don't want to risk killing the trees!

Last q for you all. Once I've got the forest, what should I do with it?

I've been thinking about how to reclaim the forest as usable - but not WHY.

Maybe something vanilla like some solar lights, hammocks and swing for the daughter...
 
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But nothing in the link applies to the posters problem. I agree there are other methods but none of them will work in this situation.


I think this section covers his problem and is pretty much what I was saying.

And If the Above Methods Just Don't "Cut It"....

The American Bamboo Society recommends a different approach to getting rid of bamboo: cutting. Since their specialty is bamboo, I would lend the most credence to their advice, which, in sum, runs as follows:

  1. Cut the bamboo shoots down
  2. Apply water to the area
  3. Cut down the new crop of bamboo resulting from #2
  4. Repeat the process until shoots stop coming up.
The idea behind doing all of this is to deplete the reserves of energy in the plants' rhizomes, after which they will not be capable of sending up new shoots.
Those reserves are no longer being replaced, because you are removing the plants' mechanism to do so -- photosynthesis -- by depriving them of vegetation. They can only hold out so long without being replenished (although it may seem an eternity if you are itching to be rid of the plants so that you can start a garden in that spot).

As a concluding observation about using this method, the American Bamboo Society writes that, once you are done, "The rhizomes will be left behind, but will rot away." The reason that these old rhizomes will rot away is that they have been depleted of their energy reserves. By contrast, when you use the digging method (discussed above), the rhizomes you leave behind are still fresh -- and that is why they generate new shoots (rather than just rotting away).
 
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I think this section covers his problem and is pretty much what I was saying.

And If the Above Methods Just Don't "Cut It"....

The American Bamboo Society recommends a different approach to getting rid of bamboo: cutting. Since their specialty is bamboo, I would lend the most credence to their advice, which, in sum, runs as follows:

  1. Cut the bamboo shoots down
  2. Apply water to the area
  3. Cut down the new crop of bamboo resulting from #2
  4. Repeat the process until shoots stop coming up.
The idea behind doing all of this is to deplete the reserves of energy in the plants' rhizomes, after which they will not be capable of sending up new shoots.
Those reserves are no longer being replaced, because you are removing the plants' mechanism to do so -- photosynthesis -- by depriving them of vegetation. They can only hold out so long without being replenished (although it may seem an eternity if you are itching to be rid of the plants so that you can start a garden in that spot).

As a concluding observation about using this method, the American Bamboo Society writes that, once you are done, "The rhizomes will be left behind, but will rot away." The reason that these old rhizomes will rot away is that they have been depleted of their energy reserves. By contrast, when you use the digging method (discussed above), the rhizomes you leave behind are still fresh -- and that is why they generate new shoots (rather than just rotting away).
It doesn't seem to say how long it will take for the rhizomes to rot. By using chemicals the rhizomes will be killed fairly quickly. It took me almost 2 years to kill the more invasive spreading type of bamboo. But it is an acceptable means other than chemicals if one is able to water and mow on a very short timetable.
 
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Here is another thought, once the bamboo is cut down go over the new growth with a torch (the kind used to put down rubber roofing. Maybe not the safest way but it would be easier than cutting with a mower
 
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daringdorobou, since you have decided to hire a professional, you may want to ask them if there is a difference in price if you do some of the work. I'm thinking cutting them down would take time, but maybe not a professional. You may be able to save a significant amount if you cut it down for them, and have them come in just to remove the roots, runners and tubers. (y)


Last q for you all. Once I've got the forest, what should I do with it?

I've been thinking about how to reclaim the forest as usable - but not WHY.

Maybe something vanilla like some solar lights, hammocks and swing for the daughter...


How old is she? Tent camping is fun in the summer. Some of the trees look big enough and close enough together to build a small treehouse. (I always wanted a treehouse.:love: )


You could teach her to garden. :D
 

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