The Q&A Archives: Bamboo

Question: I am wondering if bamboo would work for my yard. I live in Morro BAy, CA about 20 blocks from the harbor which is just behind the ocean. I live up on a hill where wind comes through fairly rough every now and then. THe area I'm thinking is w/sw facing. I've been hearing bamboo won't do good because of the wind and sea air....yet I have seen some bamboo doing ok near my house....can you help? thank you

Rob Durham

Answer: In basic terms, bamboo is really just a giant grass. Wherever grass will grow, bamboo will grow. Bamboos grow best in sunny sites, in well-draining soils. The only drawback with bamboo is that it can be terribly invasive unless you place a barrier deep into the soil to contain the running roots. There are some relatively well-behaved clumping type bamboos, however, so if you have a sunny spot in your garden, you can plant clumping bamboo without too much concern about having it take over your yard.

If you're looking for a hedging screen, Bambusa multiplex is a clumping type bamboo growing 8-10' tall and 15'-20' wide; if you want something a little smaller, try Bambusa ventricosa (Buddha's Belly). This plant grows 3-6' tall and about 20' in diameter.

There are many, many varieties of bamboo so do a little looking around at your local nurseries - you're sure to find just the right match for your garden.

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