I'd like to get some fast growing bamboo, mainly to be used for trellising and other building projects. I'm in Zone 6b (Kentucky).
After some limited research, it appears that for my climate zone the best growing bamboos with reasonably low prices are the running variety. (If you know differently, please let me know)
Anyways, I know a lot of people have horror stories of running bamboo taking over areas. My plan was to put the bamboo in an area of my lawn that I mow weekly, and I thought that as long as I mow the perimeter of the bamboo cluster that it would prevent spreading. Will that actually work? If so, how far of an island would I need to prevent it from spreading to an area that is not mowed regularly? For instance, if I put it 5 feet from a perimeter fence, and mow those 5 feet regularly, would I run the risk that it spreads across those 5 feet and shoots up on my neighbors side of the fence?
Clumping bamboo is not going to go 5 feet and pop up. Maybe 5 inches, but not 5 feet. I have not paid attention to how much of an island the running bamboo can cross.
If you want to find a good variety, you might try the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden in Savannah. They have over 150 different species of bamboo that they grow, both the clumping and the running type, identified as to their hardiness zones, and they occasionally have sales where they sell off their excess. They have plots that are separated by about 20 feet or so, but that might just be for aesthetics of having walking and golf cart paths between the plots. They probably could tell you how far a particular species can travel underground.
Bamboo canes are great for trellis, plant stakes, ect. Especially if you grow a species of timber bamboo. A bamboo colony can create a tremendous amount of biomass in a small area and provide a great visual and wind barrier plus being a nice bird habitat. There are species that if mulched, will retain their leaves at near 0F temps. If you get a timber type bamboo they will handle the snow and ice load you get with minimal cane breakage. They will bend over and even touch the ground so do plan for that.
Once the colony is established, an aggressive bamboo can send runners out a distance equal to the height of the canes or more. However, they only send up canes for a few weeks in the spring, so you would only have to mow the nearby area once or twice a year. Or you could go out with a golf club, a big stick, sturdy shoes, ect. once every few days during the shoot season and squash/whack the canes coming up where you don't want them.
Much like planting a tree, do think about how tall a plant you want. You can have an impressive and productive colony in as little as a 10' by 20' space if the roots are allowed to extend out into the mowed area. My experience is that an established bamboo colony's roots will outcompete lawn grasses for moisture and create a ring of sparse to no lawn around them in areas that get dry during the summer.
Running bamboo is best grown in containers in my opinion. I couldn't tell you how many people have paid me good money, year after year to remove rhizomes of runner bamboos that were spreading where they didn't want them.
As mentioned, they are great screens as long as you know what can happen and prepare for it. Just mowing is not going to keep rhizomes from growing out and out and out, it is only going to cut down shoots.
Think of running bamboo as monster Bermuda grass (pretty much what it is really) and know that once it is established, the only way to get rid of it is to dig all the soil out and screen it for all root bits.
When we installed running bamboo we dug down 4 feet and installed a 1/2 inch thick liner, creating barrier, the barrier stuck out of the ground 6 inches so we could come by weekly and trim off any rhizome that was trying to escape.
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Location: NE Ga, Zone 7b/8a
posted 1 year ago
Not all running bamboos are as aggressive, but I agree that planning is necessary before you plant. The rhizomes will stop at some point from the canes, though it may be more than the height of the tallest canes. If people want a care free screening plant, they may want to consider other plants, but if you are willing to plan ahead and keep up on the maintenance they can be very useful. Yes, certain species will transition into a monster Bermuda on steroids, sending out rhizomes even through hard clay, such as what I have in my yard where even tall Bermuda grass wouldn't grow. Long hot Ga summers, decent rainfall, and a heavy leaf mulch equals much biomass production, and a 40' tall screen. It hasn't crossed under the asphalt road, yet...
Lance Kleckner wrote:The problem will be when you move or die, if you are utilizing your running bamboo, it will feel like it is not growing fast enough, but that goes with any plant that has uses.
*, reading your last part regarding planting it near the neighbor's fence, would need to do more than mowing. It will pop up in their yard, bamboo will be hated more and more horror stories, etc.
I think it should be kept in mind that bamboo is not a climax species, it can and will be shaded out by climax trees, at least in my part of the country, so if I die, and no one cares for the property, it becomes a climax forest of Tulip Poplar, Sweetgum, Hickory, and Red Oak, just like it would anyway. It's a lot more likely that the new owner would just bulldoze off the top 1' of soil to get rid of all of those plants, bamboo included, and turn it back into a parking lot. Yes, the bamboo pops up in the neighbor's yard, they mow it off weekly, along with the rest of the lawn. I consider a fair trade, their Leyland Cypress has roots in my yard, my bamboo has rhizomes in theirs. In northeast georgia, anywhere that isn't mowed, grazed, or sprayed will have 2' tall pine trees in a year's time which then grow 3 or more feet a year until they reach 80'.