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Bamboo Felling

The problem

About 50 years ago someone had planted a bamboo plant at the south west corner of the block. This had grown into a large clump of bamboo canes over 20m tall. One of my conditions for buying the property was that the bamboo would be removed. We tried cutting a few canes but they wouldn't fall because all the branches tie the top of the canes to each other. The only way we felled the few test canes was to cut them at ground level, tie a rope to the cane and a car, and drive off.

We decided this felling was a job for the professionals and rang around until we found someone interested in the job. The bloke said he could do the job in one day which sounded great although somewhere between optimistic and unbelievable. I agreed to pay by the hour. On the day a team with two chippers and a crane arrived. On the first attempt the crane broke and the driver said it was unsafe and refused to do any more. The team tried our approach of cutting a cane at ground level and then pulling it with a rope connected to a chipper. At the end of the day perhaps one quarter of the canes had been felled and I had an enormous pile of bamboo mulch to dispose of. Most waste depots won't take any bamboo cuttings or mulch. After this expensive day I cancelled the job which looked like it would take at least four days and cost me over $30k.

The next tree lopper who looked at the job wanted to use a 25m cherry picker. This sounded hopeful until I realised the truck was over 20 tonnes and would hardly fit in the area and left no drop zone. So I cancelled this job before it started.

The solution

I bought a 200kg winch and made a frame for it so I could use it to pull the canes over. Then I did an EWP course so I could operate a boom lift and hired an 11m spider lift for three weeks. For these three weeks we felled each cane one by one. The approach was that I'd go up at least eight metres, tie the strap to the cane, and then come down and pull the cane with the winch. When it came down we'd cut it into pieces and throw these on the ever expanding rubbish pile.

I did try cutting the canes when up in the air but it was far too risky especially if there was any wind. Trees might move in the wind but tall bamboo canes are far worse. Also, any cutting from the lift platform brought the risk that we might drop things on the spider lift.

Removing the rubbish

I had over 25 cubic metres of bamboo mulch and some enormous piles of canes cut to about 4m and a large pile of branches and leaves. I hired two 4m skips to clear one of the mulch piles and paid $6k for some tree people to clear most of the canes and branches. A neighbour cleared some of the canes for me which was a great help. A few people took some of the mulch which also helped.

The result

Now I have a large area of bamboo stumps. I've cut these and doused them with Roundup and although the clump isn't completely dead there isn't much growth now. It will just take more cutting and poisoning to kill the leftovers and hopefully the stumps will die and rot.

Last modified 2017-08-08

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