Transplanted Bamboo privacy hedge
.. or ‘bamboom’ as my 2 year old calls it.
I recently installed a 30 foot long bamboo hedge as a privacy screen along the fence that borders a street (we have a corner lot).
I did a lot of research so thought I’d share a quick dump of what I’ve gathered so far. I’ll add some pics when I take them.
1. Clumping vs. running
a. Most people will tell you to get clumping since running is invasive. This is true if you just want to get some bamboo and plant it w/o having to install a root barrier. However, these two types don’t tend to look the same – the clumping tend to have bare stalks w/ most of the foliage at the top and usually have sort of ‘weeping’ tendency as opposed to the upright image that I prefer. [edit: check out the variety called ‘slender weavers’ it may disprove my previous statement.]
b. If you want a privacy screen that fills in like a hedge, then you want running, and therefore have to install a root barrier system of some sort – or containerize.
c. Clumping will still spread, but relatively slowly.
2. Installing root barrier.
a. It should be around 24″ deep – which is very deep – so hire some young workers to do the digging. The general consensus seems to be that rhizomes rarely go deeper than 15″ unless it’s giant timber bamboo, or the soil is very light and/or sandy.
b. Use this type of barrier material and get a size that is wider than the depth of your trench – you want it to stick up about 2-4″ above the ground to create a little fence to contain the rhizomes that run along the ground surface.
c. Make sure you install the barrier so that it is tilted away from the base of the bamboo plants so that when the rhizomes hit the barrier they go UP instead of DOWN. If they are directed downwards they are likely to go right under your barrier.
d. There are lots of articles covering this on the web, here are a couple:
e. In my case I only had to install the barrier on 3 sides since the hedge runs along a road and the rhizomes won’t (I hope) grow all the way under it.
3. Obtaining/planting bamboo.
a. I was fortunate enough to have our neighbor offer to let me dig up some that was growing in their yard. It was already invading our yard so it was sort of a win win. I also dug some up from my father in laws’ yard. It ended up being easier to dig up that I thought it would be. You just need a good strong shovel and a mattock of some sort to chop the rhizomes. The bigger the rootball the better, but you can get away w/ a fairly small chunk of roots.
b. They say you should cut off some of the top foliage to reduce the amount of leaves that need support from the root system but you can just wait to see if the leaves curl up or not first – that is the indication of not enough water. I’ve had about a 98% success rate so far.
c. It seems like most of the sources online are pretty expensive for mature potted plants over 6′ tall, something like $100 for what would amount to 1 or two feet in hedge width. If you’re ok w/ waiting a couple years for a tall plant, then get smaller ones – otherwise, try posting on craigslist to find some free/cheap sources you can dig up – it’s pretty abundant in suitable climate areas.
a. People always say how hardy bamboo is and it’s true when established, but you need to make sure it doesn’t dry out for the first season after transplanting. Most people say not to fertilize until the second season, but applying mature compost and something like bark chips over the soil is a great idea to keep the roots moist. They are happiest w/ a good layer of bamboo leaves covering the ground over their roots.
b. Use a standard lawn fertilizer after it’s established since it’s in the ‘grass’ family.
That’s pretty much it for now – I’d love to hear others’ input or feedback.
I have attached some pix showing the hedge a few months after planting. Some of the transplants have died but 90% survived and there are already tons of new shoots coming up.
You can see the root barrier if you look closely in some of the pics as well as the irrigation system. We should have a nice thick hedge a few years from now that I will trim into an orderly shape.
I’ve learned that it is best to make the ground nice and flat where you are planting these to encourage the new shoots to grow straight up. Ours is sloped and the shoots tend to come out of the ground perpendicular to the soil surface and then curve upwards toward the sun.