Ok, so we all love bamboo, our shared interest has brought us here, but are there any situations when bamboo is a bad idea? To me the answer is always no, bamboo has a place in every garden. The versatility and convenience of this addition to your garden means that it can be used time and time again to create different looks and feels without much effort.
Albeit bamboo has garnered a ‘trendy’ image among some in the gardening world, this image being taken quite literally within the marketplace. You are now able to buy all manner of construction materials made out of bamboo and no-longer need to employ the services of money lenders in order to afford this exotic plant. The variety of furniture, flooring and decorative ornaments being produced using bamboo has become dazzling, and all now at drastically cheaper prices then they were a few years ago. This fast-growing grass has truly stepped onto the commercial sphere over the last decade.
To shield or to clump, that is the question
The popular form of using this hardy grass is to plant it in ‘shields’ or ‘clumps’ in order to offer you some privacy or shielding from direct sunlight. This is done by planting the bamboo in evenly spaced pockets – normally leaving a gap of 2-4 feet for the bamboo to grow into. But considering bamboo’s quick growth and resilience to conditions once firmly rooted in are there any types of gardens or situations where you shouldn’t plant bamboo?
The pure flexibility of this plant can actually be a reason not to use it in your garden. As mentioned most will use this plant in order to construct some sort of screen. If you plan on using it as a screen between you and your neighbours the bamboo can quickly take hold and not only screen you from your neighbours but also start to infringe onto their garden.
Bamboo can grow quickly, some species as fast as 3-feet per day! This can mean what was meant as a screen from prying eyes can quickly turn into a beast that does not respect borders or fences. Some species will take no prisoners and spread rapidly into territories unknown. This can result in a whole new set of problems as you and the bamboo literally become at war with each other as you struggle to contain the growth.
If you are using bamboo for this purpose you should investigate the species you are using and ask lots of questions about the growth rate, it’s reactions to other plants and how easy it is to maintain. A bamboo like black pole bamboo may be a good choice if you fear this could be a problem, it has a slow to medium growth rate and is very easy to maintain, if planted sensibly.
It’s an invasive plant
Bamboo is actually classed as an invasive exotic plant, keeping bamboo where it’s meant to be can therefore be a uphill struggle, if left to simply grow it, it can quickly out-crowd other plants very easily and monopolise resources in your garden. This threat to bio-diversity can lead to all sorts of problems.
Planting bamboo can be more expensive than you thought, as the cost will sometimes include treating the part of the garden you are planting the bamboo in prior to any sort of bamboo going in.
Experts recommend using different materials below the soil and on the surface level, to control the growth and hold that the plant can take on the surrounding area.
This can be expensive and time-consuming. You will need to create a solid barrier around the plant in order to stop it spreading. This can be down with natural products like wood or man-made such as fibre-glass and concrete. This will stop the plants rhizomes from spreading but you still must keep a watchful eye on it, especially during the early summer season when plants can be particularly fearless.
This is a common problem among those that have bamboo loving neighbours. Once this plant takes hold it can be a nightmare to clear, sometimes not disappearing for several years after it has been cleared from the surface. If planted freely into the soil, bamboo’s rhizomes can take hold and the plant will continue to flourish with little or no effort.
The best way to overcome this is avoiding the situation in the first place. Yes, sometimes this is out of your hands, but when planting bamboo you should consider planting the grasses into boxes rather than directly into the soil. This will relieve headaches in the long-run and save relations with your neighbours.
To contain or eradicate a bamboo invasion can sometimes mean that you will be forced to use chemical herbicides and nobody really wants to do that, especially for those attempting to create an organic paradise in the garden.
For those already under attack there can be little choice in your course of action. I have heard reports of people digging up the soil several times only to be flummoxed when back it comes in the next season. There are lots of herbicides on the market and all will have a similar chemical reaction with your organic notions of maintaining a garden.
Consider the species and get advice
Do not be totally put off by using bamboo in your garden, you simply must be aware that the plant can cause problems if your approach isn’t thought through. Always ask questions about growth and care with a specialist when purchasing your bamboo. With forward planning and awareness of the potential bamboo has to take over, you can remain the master of your garden while enjoying the wonderful benefits bamboo has to offer.