Bamboo has a bad reputation for spreading like wildfire. But growing bamboo can be fun and easy, once you learn how to plant bamboo properly.
I've dreamed of creating a serene Japanese-style garden in our backyard, including growing bamboo to hide our boring fence and create more privacy. But bamboo has a bad reputation for growing out of control.
Luckily, if you select the noninvasive bamboo and prepare your planting area properly, you can create a beautiful bamboo hedge without making enemies of your neighbors.
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I cleaned up our overgrown garden and got it ready for a whole new look. I'll be growing bamboo along the fence, where it will create a lovely screen. But how do I keep these tricky plants in the background when it has a reputation for taking over?
Choose non-invasive bamboo
There are two main types of bamboo, clumping and running. Both types grow new shoots, called culms, but their root structures are very different.
Running bamboo sends out rhizomes that can pop up many feet away, causing it to spread quickly. Clumping bamboo forms in tightly packed groups and doesn't spread more than a few inches a year. Clumping bamboo = non invasive bamboo.
I found that independent sellers are the best places to buy bamboo. They know their bamboo better than anyone, and can tell you what will work best for your space. Check your local nursery, or even purchase bamboo online!
You can find a great selection of clumping bamboo for sale at this Etsy shop. Fargesia robusta and Fargesia Rufa are the most common varieties of non invasive bamboo.
How to Control Bamboo
Bamboo is a grass, and like the grass in your lawn, it spreads by putting out new rhizomes in any available space nearby. Have you ever had a clump of grass appear on the wrong side of your garden edging? If your border isn't buried deep enough, the grass will just send a rhizome to set up camp on the other side. Think of bamboo the same way.
Create a barrier
The spot in our garden where I plan to plant bamboo is bordered by concrete on two sides (a retaining wall and a walkway), which makes creating a proper barrier easier. By digging a deep trench and installing a very thick plastic barrier material such as Bamboo Shield, it will stay in check.
If you have your heart set on running bamboo, this is the method you would use to keep it contained. But even with these precaution in place, you still need to keep an eye out for those sneaky ones that escape! Cut the stragglers off underground before they get out of hand.
Use a raised bed
You can also opt to grow your bamboo in a raised bed. This raised planter kit would be perfect for creating a bamboo screen. Two planters stacked together to form a bed almost 2 feet tall should be deep enough to prevent any pesky rhizomes from escaping.
Plant bamboo in a pot
Growing bamboo in a pot is the perfect solution for a deck or patio that needs a little privacy. Just be sure to thin out the older culms to make way for new growth, and switch to a bigger pot when the root ball gets too large.
Even clumping bamboo will eventually grow beyond where you want it to go. By thinning the clump and removing any rhizomes that have strayed too far, you can keep your bamboo screen from turning into a whole forest.