The Q&A Archives: bamboo

Question: Hello,
I'm looking for some advice abot bamboo for a landscaping project. I have 120' of stockade and chainlink fence between my yard and the neighbor's that I would like to plant bamboo against. The neighbor has just cut down a 50' tree in the southwest corner of our yard that was partially shading our tropical garden which is now getting burned out by direct sun. We are considering putting tall (40'+) bamboo along part of the fence to shade the tropical garden as well as shorter 12'-20' varieties to block out some houses without obscuring the foothills in the distance. Here are some of our questions:

1. Is a cement trough still neccessary with clumping bamboo? ( I don't mind if it encrouches to double the depth). If using clumping bamboo will I need to plant huge numbers of plants to fill in such a large lateral area?

2. Bambusa Oldhamii (timbbaol) was one of our choices, but we would like to know if there is a black (nigiri) variety suitable for these applications. We are also interested in varigated and any unusual specimens.

3. We live in Altadena, Ca 91001, zones 8-10. Is my soaker hose enough irrigation to get the seedlings going or do I need a sprinkler system?

Any information and assistance you can provide is greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Answer: Bamboos make terrific screens and there are many types to choose from. Clumping types are easiest to contain in a specific area; running bamboos really do need permanent barriers to keep them from overtaking the neighborhood. Soaker hoses will do and adequate job of watering.

'Golden Goddess' is a clumping type bamboo, reaching 6'-10' in height, with 1/2" diameter stems. It has a graceful, arching, dense growth habit. 'Alphonse Karr' can reach 15'-35', with yellow striped green canes. Bamboo is a relatively fast-growing plant, especially when given lots of water and fed regularly with a high nitrogen lawn fertilizer. So if it's height you want, I'd go with 'Alphonse Karr'. How closely you space the plants will determine how quickly your screening hedge will fill in. If you plant 1-gallon containers 4'-5' apart, your bamboo will grow together in a dense mass in 2-3 years. Clumping bamboos can be planted without concern about the roots taking off and invading gardens. Running bamboos should have barriers placed to keep the roots from growing out of control.

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