The Q&A Archives: Upright Narrow Hedge

Question: I am a designer working on a project at Ocean Beach, San Francisco. I need tall plants for a perimeter of a back yard, approx 75 feet, to cover 3 ugly fences owned by 3 different neighbors. I was considering bamboo. What would you recommend & how fast would they grow? I would want the plants to grow to about 12 ft sooner rather than later and endure the weather out there.


Answer: Clumping bamboos are the fastest growing plants for a privacy screen. The primary species are Bambusa multiplex 'Alphonse Karr', Bambusa multiplex 'Golden Goddess', and Bambusa multiplex 'Weeping Willow' bamboo.

Bambusa multiplex ?Alphonse Karr? bamboo grows variegated, bright yellow stalks with green pin-stripes. Alphonse Karr grows fast to 1 -2 inches in diameter, and poles up to 50 feet tall.

Bambusa multiplex ?Golden Goddess? bamboo is the most popular hedge bamboo used in the U.S.. Golden Goddess bamboo has a solid bright yellow-gold stalk with beautifully contrasting small green leaves. The stalk grows fast to more than 2 inches in diameter and grows to a height of 40 feet. The contrast between golden stalks and green leaves is unparalleled, and the reason for its popularity. Golden Goddess bamboo is also popular, because it lends itself to pruning to the landscape height you desire to grow.

Bambusa multiplex ?Weeping Willow? bamboo is fast growing in popularity across the south, for its graceful arching outer stalks, under which many Southerners relax on their patio furniture. Its stalks grow from ? ? 1 ? inches in diameter, and to a fast height of approximately 35 feet. Weeping Willow bamboo has green stalks with a greenish-blue hue after aging, which gives it a fascinating emerald sheen. Weeping Willow bamboo grows so dense at maturity, that not even a rabbit could penetrate through its and thick clumps.

Hedge Bamboo (Bambusa multiplex or B. glaucescens)
Description: A medium-size bamboo with a very dense growth habit. Culms grow very close to one another and numerous branches sprout from each node (joint) on the culms. Culms are green on the species but yellow on some varieties.

Bamboo is relatively easy to grow; full sun and ample water will help you achieve the fastest coverage of the fences. Do keep in mind that clumping bamboos grow out 360 degrees with the clump enlarging annually so it's important to give these plants ample room from the fence or they'll pop up on the other side of the fence! You could install a root barrier next to the fence to help keep that from happening.

Best wishes with your landscape project!

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