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Use of bamboo in grey water treatment?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 41
Location: Hiroshima-shi, Japan
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I'm building a passive natural system. Does anyone know the ins and outs of bamboo use in grey water treatment systems? How to control its spread? how much water can it take? What water loving plants might go well with it?
 
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Location: Elgin, IL
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There are two types of bamboo: running and clumping. Running bamboo is difficult to contain without burying shields in the ground to head off the runners. Clumping bamboo grows in a patch and is less invasive.

I'm also curious about using bamboo for cleaning gray water. Also, does anybody know of any cold tolerant varieties (zone 5a) that grow larger than 1/2" in diameter?
 
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We use clumping bamboo in an outdoor shower that sees regular use. The bamboo gets all the shower water. it was planted in a little pit where the water drains into. The bamboo is very happy.
We're in zone 9a with well draining silty loam. The bamboo spreads only very slowly and would be easy to keep at bay.

 
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Vlad Alba wrote:We use clumping bamboo in an outdoor shower that sees regular use. The bamboo gets all the shower water. it was planted in a little pit where the water drains into. The bamboo is very happy.
We're in zone 9a with well draining silty loam. The bamboo spreads only very slowly and would be easy to keep at bay.



Awesome.  How about the root system do you have to dig it up and clean out the root system?
I am thinking of doing similar for my project.  How does the bamboo handle soap water from the shower?
 
Posts: 63
Location: Mediterranean-Temperate transition zone
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Bamboo has a tough time surviving (let alone thriving) in Mediterranean-type climates (hot dry summers do a great job of killing it), so linking it to a greywater system that pushes nutrients and water to it on a steady basis all year round is all that you need to do to keep it under control.  Clumping or running — doesn't matter.

That's why in about a year I'll be planting three different varieties in my leach field area — one running and two clumping.  The clumping varieties should produce garden stakes and culms suitable for structural work (think animal pens); the running variety is mainly there for privacy screening and, perhaps, weaving.

Having researched the topic a lot over the last few years, I'm acutely aware that the growth of bamboo is highly, highly climate dependent... and even a slight variation from the native climate can have a profound impact on height, thickness, 'bushiness', 'glossiness', weep angles and so-on.

The reason I mention all this is because often people avoid running bamboo because it's "common knowledge" that running bamboo is 'invasive'.  What's less-common knowledge is that the alternative — clumping bamboo — can happily destroy concrete footpaths and foundations as the root system grows and exerts immense lateral sub-surface pressure when planted in a space that is too small.  The OP is in Japan which, in most cases, means that space is at a premium.  This possibly means a very limited space into which the bamboo may be planted...

If that's the case, then a clumping bamboo that is ideally suited to your region will grow quickly and the roots will exert lateral pressure.  If this is not a problem for nearby structures, then everything's good — go right ahead.  If, on the other hand, it is a problem, then what you can do instead is get a running bamboo that is not well-suited to your climate.  Because it's not well-suited it won't grow as aggressively beyond its water/nutrient source (i.e. your greywater supply), and because it's a running variety you avoid the lateral pressure problem.

Hope that made sense.

Sometimes the 'common sense' wrong plant is a better choice than the 'common sense' right plant.
 
Swee Yong
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Banana circles and mulch basin.  Have you considered it.  
 
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Tim Bermaw wrote:Bamboo has a tough time surviving (let alone thriving) in Mediterranean-type climates (hot dry summers do a great job of killing it)



Tim, any recommendations for structural or fencing bamboo that thrive in Mediterranean climates?
 
Tim Bermaw
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Location: Mediterranean-Temperate transition zone
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ilan yahav wrote:Tim, any recommendations for structural or fencing bamboo that thrive in Mediterranean climates?


No.  I don't think any form of bamboo will "thrive" in a Mediterranean climate.

My observations in Mediterranean Adelaide (Australia) suggest that pretty-much all bamboo ends up a lot smaller/stunted.  If you look up the height/diameter of a particular species of bamboo, you can reduce both by as much as two-thirds when you plant them in Adelaide.  Even nurseries have a hard time growing them taller without incurring obscene water bills.

The property I'll be planting bamboo on later this year (if all goes according to plan) is half-way between Mediterranean and Temperate — 3°C cooler, 150mm/year wetter — notably closer to bamboo's preferred climate.

The height/diameter/density/health of bamboo scales according to how close you are to their native climate.

For structural use, I'll be planting Phyllostachys bambusoides (aka "madake" or "Japanese timber bamboo").  In its native climate it grows to a height of 15–22m and a diameter of 10–15cm.  In a Meditteranean climate — with plenty of water — I'd expect it to grow up to 5–7m and have a diameter of 3–5cm.  In my Mediterranean-Temperate climate I'm hoping for 10–14m and 6–10cm — fine for what I have in mind.

Note, however, that I'm talking about large groves of bamboo — exposed to the elements.  I'm not talking about a single clump in a sheltered and controlled microclimate.  On a very small scale it is easy to get bamboo to grow well almost anywhere.
 
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