Arundo Eradication Recipe from MCRCD

Arundo Eradication

The health of our local wetland is important, which is why part of our work with EPA CWA 319 is all about arundo eradication. While this invasive species may look like bamboo, it’s anything but. Because arundo can take over moist wetland areas quickly we’ve worked with the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District to learn some best practices for arundo eradication. The folks there shared with us a ‘recipe’ that should help. You’ll find it has herbicide and non-herbicide options available depending on the way you prefer. Here’s how to get started.


  • For cutting you need a chainsaw, chaps (or any other full leg coverage stronger than denim), eye protection and gloves
  • Longsleeve shirts and pants
  • Hand nippers – 1 pair for each crew member.  Loppers will also work
  • McCloud, Polaski, shovel
  • Tarps to lay out when cutting and stockpiling Arundo. This also makes it easier to transport off site
  • 5-gallon buckets for the sterilizing process

Arundo Eradication

Biomass removal

These next steps will get you started on your arundo eradication project.

1.A quick training and orientation for your crew covering these topics:  Identifying amphibians: (for Northern California: red-legged frogs & Foothill yellow-legged frogs), Identifying arundo, preventing spread of arundo and safety gear & clothing.

2. Cut a safe trail to the site. This is important as cut arundo can be sharp. A bigger, clearer path also makes sure you don’t spread the arundo.

3. Cut a perimeter to define the arundo cluster. You can call this the ‘worksite’

4. Scrape a perimeter trail two feet wide with a McCloud.

5. Now it’s time to cut the biomass, then carry and pile it next to a road or on a trailer. That will help it from spreading.

6. The sterilization process is next, and it’s very important. Pick up all dead stalks of arundo and carry to the dump trailer/road.  The goal is to create visual clarity to identify arundo re-growth at ground level when you return later on.

7. When feasible/easy, above bankfull height, grub and remove arundo roots.

8. Transport the remaining biomass to a burn pile.

Now you’re ready for the second part, which has two options like we stated before. There’s herbicide and non-herbicide options detailed below.

Herbicide Application

1. Return after two weeks to measure and flag the 25-foot distance from water nearby that delineates spray versus sponge application of herbicide.  This visit also give you a feel for how much re-growth has occured.

2. Return after 3-4 weeks to perform the ‘cut and paint’ herbicide application.  Ensure that the herbicide has been mixed properly with the surfactant and dye.  The amounts of chemicals you’re using need to be reported to your County Ag Commissioner.

3. Transport all cut biomass to burn pile after herbicide application is complete.

4. Sterilizing process: make sure to pick up remaining arundo stalks and viable plant parts. It doesn’t take much for arundo to survive.

5. And according to your permit guidelines, herbicide treatment should occur in summer (August), and again in fall (October).  Check permit as to season of application within bankfull height.

Non-Herbicide Application

1. Return 3-4 weeks after initial biomass removal to cut and remove arundo re-growth.

2. Sterilize the site to ensure no loose viable plant parts remain

3. Repeat this process every 4-6 weeks throughout the growing season (August – October/November).

And just because arundo is sooooo persistent, there’s some yearly follow-up you’ll want to do to ensure the arundo doesn’t return.

Arundo Eradication

Yearly Follow-Up

1. Return to site to monitor arundo re-growth in April or May.

2. Depending upon re-growth intensity, plan the season’s efforts accordingly.

Fact: Your labor costs should be 25% or less compared to the previous year’s costs if you maintain diligence.

That covers it for the MCRCD Arundo Eradication Recipe. We hope this will help your efforts. If you’d like a copy of this ‘recipe’ to share, download a copy here (right click, save as). Just make sure to give credit to MCRCD if you do. We’re greatful for their expertise, and you will be too.