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Tips for Growing Bamboo

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.

large stalks of bamboo with text overlay
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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garden full of weeds

This is the area of our garden I plan to transform. Isn't it lovely? 😉 It's been completely neglected since we moved in over three years ago.

I'll be digging up all these weeds to make room for a tranquil Japanese-style garden. 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?

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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.

clumping bamboo and running bamboo root structure

Source: bamboosourcery.com

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 growing bamboo the same way.

Plan out your garden ahead of time! This handy FREE printable garden planner will help you keep track of the seeds and plants you have or need, and the best time to plant them!

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.

running bamboo planted with bamboo barrier

Source: Amazon.com

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.

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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.

raised planter beds perfect for growing bamboo

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.

Bamboo Maintenance

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. Tools such as this serrated spade can help to cut the roots and divide a clump that has gotten too big. Bamboogarden.com does a great job showing you how it's done.


Looking for more gardening tips? Don't forget to check these out!

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JON Gray

Monday 9th of July 2018

I have clumping Bamboo and love it. I do have a question about maintenance, pruning (if you do any) and fertilizer. Does Bamboo require a lot of water, does the soil need to be moist Can you help me.

Vineta

Monday 16th of July 2018

Bamboo doesn't need a ton of water. Just an inch or so a week should do it. If it's pretty established already, it should be fine. My bamboo isn't big enough to prune yet, but since it's planted close to a fence, I plan to trim it to keep it screen-like. Hope that helps!

Mother of 3

Thursday 5th of April 2018

Great tips. I do love the look of bamboo. Pinned.

Rhonda

Thursday 22nd of March 2018

My brother has a ton of bamboo in his yard. I thought about planting bamboo at one point, but was leery because it spreads. I love using it in my garden to stake tomatoes and beans. Thanks for sharing on Sunday's Best.

Shirley Wood

Wednesday 21st of March 2018

We used to live in a home with bamboo in the backyard. I love it. We need to plant a natural privacy fence which could be low maintenance. We will have to consider bamboo. Thanks for sharing with us at Merry Monday. Pinned.

Lee MacArthur

Monday 19th of March 2018

Thank you for distinguishing between the two types of bamboo. There is a house near my parents where they planted the running bamboo and didn't keep it under control. It took over their whole yard, the house next door and half the block. I read to plant the bamboo in containers inside the plastic barriers so the bamboo does not spread as fast.

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