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Thread: Landscaping with Bamboo?

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    AnnaK's Avatar
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    Landscaping with Bamboo?

    I'm seeing more and more bamboo groves where I live and am becoming rather fascinated with the stuff. The trees? stalks? stay green all year round which is really nice of them in an area that's in shades of grey and white in winter.

    From what I've read bamboo sends out runners and spreads. Runners under the base of an AGP are not a Good Thing. However, we have sumac growing here–not the poison kind–and it spreads like mad as well but is easily controlled by mowing.

    Now I'm thinking of planting bamboo on the south end of the pool to hide the pump and filter. I haven't yet worked out how I would keep the roots from crawling in a northerly direction under the pool though.

    Does anyone here have bamboo growing on their property? If so, I would love to learn more and hear of your experience with it.
    — AnnaK —

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    Re: Landscaping with Bamboo?

    If you are not able to envision your life without bamboo from this point forward, go ahead and plant it with precautions. You will likely never rid yourself of it.

    There are different varieties of bamboo out there. Some spread more quickly than others and some are easier to control (not kill, but control) than others. Your best bet would be to visit with a qualified landscaper or gardener type at a local nursery that sells bamboo. Supposedly, the "clumping" kind doesn't spread so quickly. No invasive species should be planted. Only ornamental ones.

    From what I am reading right now, it is recommended that a metal barrier be placed around the plot of bamboo that extends at least 18 inches into the soil. This deflects the runners to a degree, allowing you to keep a better tab on the invasive bamboo runners.

    Roundup won't kill bamboo. It will control new sprouts here and there but it doesn't last long and a new sprout will pop up close by soon enough.

    Use care, especially with regard to your pool. Even concrete is no match for some bamboo.

    I think bamboo is pretty too and it sure can add some flavor because it is so exotic looking. Just make sure you really want it and get the right type. If you live in a neighborhood with neighbors close by, consider what their take might be too because if you plant it, they will also have to contend with it.
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    Re: Landscaping with Bamboo?

    Yes, I had read about the 18" metal barrier. That would really present a problem here because we live on a mountain of shale plates which cannot be broken through without using heavy equipment. Another article suggested planting bamboo in containers and I might give that some consideration but it really doesn't support the look I envision.

    I think I'll start by knocking on the doors of those people where I've seen the groves and have a chat. Thanks for your input; it mirrors what I've read so far.
    — AnnaK —

    12,000 gal AGP, Hayward sand filter, Pentair 2-speed pump, timer.
    Please visit our Pool Issues pages for information about step weights, managing the solar cover, and PoolSkim.

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    Re: Landscaping with Bamboo?

    Yeah, that's a good idea. Talk to those folks who have it. Your saying that you have seen it around in various places in the area where you live sort of made me wonder if it was a particular species that was invasive in your area, rather than planted.

    I had a friend when I was a teenager who had some in his yard. His dad was forever battling that stuff. I'll bet it is still there.
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    Re: Landscaping with Bamboo?

    There are three groves I'm aware of, all of them several miles apart from each other, so I'm thinking they were purposely planted. One is just up the road from me and who knows, I might get bamboo after all, by Nature rather than by Choice
    — AnnaK —

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    Please visit our Pool Issues pages for information about step weights, managing the solar cover, and PoolSkim.

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    Re: Landscaping with Bamboo?

    There are non-invasive species of Bamboo (look for Buddha Belly, IIRC, as an example). It will spread a little, but not like the typical Bamboo. Very cool and tropical look, and a breeze through it makes a very pleasant sound!!

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    Re: Landscaping with Bamboo?

    Many of the clumping bamboos like Buddha Belly are not recommended for our hardiness zone 6, alas.
    — AnnaK —

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    Re: Landscaping with Bamboo?

    We kind of dealt with the same issue...needing more landscaping, preferably the tropical type. Hard to do in Missouri with the cold winters. We planted about half a dozen hardy banana trees. They too, send runners, but are meant to be sliced off and replanted, to produce more trees. When they showed up, they were about 8-10 inches, and by the end of the summer, they were 7 feet tall. Covered up the aging pool fence nicely.

    These trees are FROST hardy, not freeze hardy, so they do require a bit of winterizing. However, they come back full-bore, and will produce large flowers (hummingbird magnet), followed by non-edible bananas. They're really fun.
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    Re: Landscaping with Bamboo?

    I can recall some experiences from my youth - my grandfather had planted a small stand of bamboo in the far corner of his property in the middle of rural Alabama, and he told me about how hard it was to control. He kept a machete sharp and handy to prune back his bamboo stand. He used to make things like walking canes and various water effects from bamboo, and he was happy with his 'garden', but did have to stay on top of it or it would go everywhere. As I grew up, I cut lots of bamboo. Oh yeah - there were lots of fishing poles at my grandfather's place. There were lots of fishing spots, so that was good.

    Sorry. I went away for a moment, and was enjoying the scent of honeysuckle as I was running through the woods with a cane pole...

    OK. I'm back now. <sigh>

    Anyway, after his death, and subsequent sale (and sale, and sale...) of the old property, the bamboo continued to thrive. It has gotten pretty substantial in the times between owners, and though each owner to date has had some success in reducing the size of their bamboo forest, but the bamboo persists. There have been times when the whole plot was even "lawnmower-able", but they had to be pretty consistent with the mowing.

    If I am not mistaken, there was a bulldozer involved in a recent ... ummm ... 'landscaping' project on that back section some years ago, and that *may* have mitigated the bamboo. But I doubt it.

    Sadly, though, the honeysuckle is all gone.
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    Re: Landscaping with Bamboo?

    You can use large poly cattle water troughs as containers either buried or above ground and then surrounded with a fence (wood, rock, etc.) to hide the container. The poly is pretty tough. I forget where you put the water drain and how to do to keep shoots from entering drain it but there are instructions all over the Internet.

    I don't know if there are any bamboos that are totally non spreading but some of the clumping ones spread so slowly they are easy to contain.

    I'm visiting my DD right now in Nashville. They have black bamboo on one side of yard. It is contained on one side by thick concrete driveway but it has to be watched and shoots trimmed as often as necessary. It was green all winter. It sounds heavenly but the "trash" birds like to nest in it year round so bird poop can be a problem under and all around it.

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    Re: Landscaping with Bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaK
    Many of the clumping bamboos like Buddha Belly are not recommended for our hardiness zone 6, alas.
    Didn't consider that In my world, you always wear shorts and tee shirts

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    Re: Landscaping with Bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by geekgranny
    You can use large poly cattle water troughs as containers either buried or above ground and then surrounded with a fence (wood, rock, etc.) to hide the container.
    gg=alice

    I'm sure that would look very pretty but if I were going through the work and expense of building a fence or some other camouflage to hide the container, I would most likely just forgo the container planting entirely and simply put a fence or something around the filter station. As I said in a previous post, digging into the ground to bury a container is not an option.

    But the poly tub is a nice idea.
    — AnnaK —

    12,000 gal AGP, Hayward sand filter, Pentair 2-speed pump, timer.
    Please visit our Pool Issues pages for information about step weights, managing the solar cover, and PoolSkim.

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    Re: Landscaping with Bamboo?

    My advice is to find something else to grow. I had a clump of bamboo next to my pool, and it was spreading constantly. I was very worried that a runner would eventually come through the pool wall. I finally got rid of it all, after two years of using a machete, lots of Roundup on the new leaves, chopping off new growth with a lawnmower, keeping the sun away with a black tarp and lots of runner digging. It's just not worth the hassle, unless you can guarantee that it is contained. I am in Canada, and expect it grows even faster in warmer climes.
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    Re: Landscaping with Bamboo?

    I appreciate your post, derekm. Having read everyone's comments we've pretty much decided to forget the bamboo.
    — AnnaK —

    12,000 gal AGP, Hayward sand filter, Pentair 2-speed pump, timer.
    Please visit our Pool Issues pages for information about step weights, managing the solar cover, and PoolSkim.

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