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A bamboo grove is a cool place to be on a hot summer day

 
pollinator
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One nice thing about a bamboo grove is that it provides a cool place for people and livestock to hang out on a hot summer day.  The transpiration from the millions of leaves in the bamboo canopy acts like a giant swamp cooler, making the interior of the grove noticeably cooler than out in the open away from the grove or in nearby forests. On windless days you can literally feel the cool air sinking down on you from the dense mass of leaves over your head.  I recently took a thermocouple thermometer out to a mature Phyllostachys aurea koi grove and measured 86 degrees F in the interior of the grove when it was 91 degrees F under the shade on some nearby Kentucky coffee trees and the outside thermometer in the shade at the house was reading 94 degrees F.
 
Mike Turner
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Dense shade in bamboo grove. My chickens and sheep love to hang out in the bamboo groves out in.my pastures.
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Mike Turner
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The sheep seen in the photo are the overflow from the interior of the bamboo grove. There are about 50 sheep hidden back inside that grove chilling in the cooler temperatures within.  Inside the grove you can feel a slight draft settling down from overhead as the cooler transpired air sinks down from the canopy.  These sheep have access to both bamboo and woods shade in their pasture, but they prefer the bamboo shade since it is cooler then the shade in the woods.
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pollinator
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Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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Mike,

That is a lovely canopy you have there!  I am glad you provide the shade for your stock.  I see so many pastures full of black cows baking under Texas heat that is makes me wonder if people understand anything about stock.  Stressed stock does not put on or retain weight nearly as well as one's provided a bit of shade to cool in the heat of the day.  Just boggles my mind.

May I ask what made you chose that species of bamboo?  I have a couple of stock tanks that I would like to shade to stem evaporative loss.  That looks like great bunching variety to try.  
 
Mike Turner
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That particular bamboo grove is Phyllostachys makinoi, but I also have groves of Phyllostachys rubromarginata and Phyllostachys aurea in other pastures.  All of these are running bamboos, but their spread is contained by the stock eating any shoots that come up outside of the fence that blocks them out of the grove during the 4 week spring shooting season.  For the remainder of the year they have free access to the grove's interior.
 
Mike Turner
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Running bamboos are the best for livestock shade because the canes are spaced far enough apart that the livestock can walk in among them, although every few years I'll go through the grove in late winter to thin out the canes if they get to growing too close together.  The leaves on these thinned out canes provide great livestock feed at a time of the year when they have mostly eaten down the stockpiled grass on the pastures and then the leaf-stripped canes can be used as support structures in the vegetable garden and for making brush fences.

The canes of clumping bamboos grow too close together for the stock to get in between (they would need to be planted spaced out like orchard trees) and they don't form the uniformly dense overhead canopy over a broad area that you can get with a running bamboo.
 
pollinator
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Location: OK High Plains Prairie, 23" rain avg
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Mike Turner, I'm on my phone so I can't see where you're located. I would really like to know how long it took you to get your bamboo groves growing and if you had to irrigate them? What size bamboo are you growing? I'm in Western Oklahoma next to the Texas panhandle and I really wondered about bamboo for cattle shade and structural building material. Would it grow up in my pastures where the wind blows all the time? Or do I need to put it down in my seasonal creek beds and gullies, but I would worry about it getting out of control.
 
Mike Turner
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I'm in upstate South Carolina, but in the part of the state with the lowest amount of rainfall and I get summer droughts most years.  I have never irrigated my groves after the first year or two following transplant.  I set out my transplants in the winter, and irrigate if needed during the first summer or two.  I only irrigated the newly started groves if the leaves curl during the day and didn't recover by evening, but on most of my starting groves I never had to irrigate.  My bamboo groves are 25 to 35 feet high and it took about 5 years to get them to a size where most of the leaves were above livestock browsing height.  You'll need to keep the livestock fenced out of the developing bamboo grove until they get large and tall enough so the livestock can't reach the leaves.  It would be best to start your groves on the moister parts of your property and let them spread into the dryer parts once established.  Bamboo will tolerate wind once they get established as a grove, but the initial transplants would be somewhat sensitive to wind and might need a windscreen.

Of the bamboo species I am growing, Phyllostachys makinoi and Phyllostachys rubromarginata are the most drought tolerant and I read that makinoi has been growing well in the Las Vegas area.  Running bamboo is the absolutely the best plant for stopping erosion on hillsides and gullies.  Controlling the spread of running bamboo is not a problem in a pasture setting since the livestock will eat every shoot that they can find, so you will need to fence off the areas where you want the grove to get established during the spring shooting season.  I surround my groves with a fence with gates in it and close the gates to keep them out during the shooting season.
 
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Mike Turner wrote:

All of these are running bamboos, but their spread is contained by the stock eating any shoots that come up outside of the fence that blocks them out of the grove during the 4 week spring shooting season.  For the remainder of the year they have free access to the grove's interior.

Just to add, bamboo is a grass - so anything that will eat young tender grass (like my geese) will eat bamboo shoots. Since even humans can eat young tender grass, I choose Phyllostachys dulcis in the hopes I'd get to eat some of it, but as Mike's observed, without protection in the spring, I usually loose to the geese, ducks and deer. My portable fencing I usually use got pressed into service elsewhere this year, but I did get a little.

Running bamboo tends to head for water, so last year I put a pipe from my Noisy Duck stock tank to the dulcis patch and boy did I get some lovely large culms in the few spots I protected this spring. I simply moved the end of the pipe around a little in the patch every time I did a dump, so it was a really simple system, but the bamboo liked it, so using it to shade a stock tank would be a good way to stack functions.

Bamboo that is 5 years old is supposedly the best for building projects - the height set the first year won't change, but the thickness of the walls will increase. I find all sorts of useful things for the culms.

 
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Hello, Bambudude here in Northern California! I saw bamboo mentioned and I thought I could add a little to the convo. I've been growing bamboo for 25+ years. I've been also helping people "rehab" their running bamboos when they get out of control, usually from lack of attention.  It never ceases to amaze me that people just think they can plant it, leave it and in a few years they will have a grove like you see in Japan or China. Bamboo does require regular care and maintenance, but not as much as you think. Mike, you do have a very nice looking grove and photos are great! Animals of all sorts really love it in the heat of the summer. I had chickens for 10 years and they hung out all summer long in the bamboo. The chickens provided great fertilizer! I have found that the more I have thinned bamboo, the larger in diameter the culms get and they get taller too! I have a bonsai shade structure surrounded by 3 runners: Black Bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra), Myers Bamboo (Ph myeri) and Arrow Bamboo (Pseudosasa Japonica). They Black and Myeri are thinned with 2-3 feet between culms and the Arrow bamboo is in a hedge to provide shade for the bonsai from western sun. For building with the poles, I have helped build structures over the years with bamboo and 2 years old is the youngest I'd use and that's maybe pushing it, 3-5 is better range. Once the poles are cut, they need to be cured for 2-3 months. Best is to tie them together to keep them straight and put them up on cinderblocks in a shaded, dry place. If they get get wet they may get ruined. Bamboo is pretty tough, but when it is shooting it is most vulnerable to damage from critters, so fencing is crucial or they shoots will get eaten. Thanks for letting me put in my 2 cents worth and if you have any ?s let me know, be glad to help out. Take care! Daniel
 
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