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Use of bamboo in grey water treatment?  RSS feed

 
Brendan Edwards
Posts: 40
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?
 
Alex Veidel
Posts: 126
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?
 
Vlad Alba
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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.

 
Swee Yong
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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?
 
Tim Bermaw
Posts: 47
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 — two running and one clumping.  The clumping variety should produce garden stakes, one of the running varieties should produce culms suitable for structural work (think animal pens), and the second 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
Posts: 12
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Banana circles and mulch basin.  Have you considered it. 
 
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