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Bamboo containment and preventative maintenance

Because of its’ growth patterns, Clumping Bamboo generally does not need to be contained. However the focused, vertical energy of this invasive species can be quite destructive if bamboo containment is incorrectly done.

Clumpers may be shaped and prevented from putting pressure on any surrounding structures (such as a fence or sidewalk) by removing new shoots at soil level. It is advisable to plant a clumping bamboo species 2-4 feet from a fence to allow some room for growth, top spread, and space for maintenance between the bamboo and the fence.

Bamboo Containment

Running Bamboo should generally be contained if on a property line or in a small yard, even if bordered by surface structures such as brick or cement patio, cement sidewalk or driveway, or shallow walls.

It is important to note here that no bamboo containment method is fullproof. Over time, rhizomes can grow up or down to continue their relentless growth beyond the wall.

The Safest Methods

For containing Running Bamboo, plant in containers and install high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic rhizome barriers, 30″-36″ inches deep, vertically around the perimeter of the planted area in which the bamboo is to be contained. This material is thicker than a credit card and comes on a 300 ft. roll in different widths, 30″ x 60 mil, 36″ x 60 mil and 36″ x 80 mil. It can be cut to any length and installed in any shape desired.

Yellow Bamboo - PhyllostachysBamboo Removal typically recommends using at least a 30″ wide barrier, in a 40-80 mil thickness for most plants in the Phyllostachys genus (bamboo), especially in the northeast, where 30 mil borders will crack with cold temperatures. Naturally, cracks are to be avoided at all costs, since bamboo will grow right through them. We also recommend leaving a 2” lip above ground so that you can see when there is a problem with bamboo escaping over the wall. By applying an effective containment method, it will let you keep any desired amount of bamboo.

Large Plantings of Bamboo

Large plantings can be surrounded with a single length of HDPE barrier requiring only one seam. The polyethylene is superior to cement and metal (cement often develops cracks, and metal rusts and requires many seams), is less expensive, and can last 20-30 years when installed according to our specific instructions.

Periodic maintenance is needed for all bamboo containment. The roots, when confined in the barrier, will try to grow over the 2″ lip of the barrier above the soil. Luckily they will be more visible as they climb over the 2″ lip. Any escaping roots need to be pruned and removed.