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How To Control A Bamboo

CLUMPING BAMBOO Clumping bamboo spread slowly in an ever growing circle. If a long line of bamboo is planted in a row it appears to be just right when viewed from a distance. Up close some branches or culms may be in your mower path or walkway. Using a hand pruner or lopper cut the offending portion away. This may only be needed a few times a year if at all. Some people with time on their hands prune their bamboo to appear like a flat top privet hedge. A machine hedge trimmer is usually large enough for this task. Underground barrier systems are not needed for a clumping bamboo.

A few people may tell you that all bamboo will take over your property and can't be controlled. Be sure not to take investment advice from such people.

RUNNING BAMBOO Running bamboo require a long term plan for controlling the spread into unwanted areas. Be thoughtful of neighbors. A stockade fence will not stop a running bamboo. The spreading structure is called a rhizome. It travels unseen underground in all directions possible. During Spring new culms are likely to emerge along the rhizome. This is beneficial when a denser screen is desired. A ten foot wide barrier becomes an opaque screen plus creatures will need to go around it. Noise and dust are greatly reduced by a thick screen of bamboo. Cattle operations have planted long lines of running bamboo to serve as an edible rustler barrier. It will not be eaten until a lead cow shows the others it is just another type of grass. If the bamboo spreads too far in that application a bush hog easily levels the growth to more suitable proportions.

Natural barriers include roads, streams, railroad tracks, lakes and dense rocky areas. Often if a bamboo spreads into an existing woods the lack of sunlight and competition for nutrients slows or stops it. There are differences in how rapidly different bamboos spread. Ask a bamboo grower about that. Rhizome barriers can be purchased in various widths such as 36,30 and 24 inches. They are not cheap. The American Bamboo Society website has vendors selling rhizome barriers. When installing the barrier have the barrier slant slightly away from the stand of bamboo thus causing any rhizome to go upward versus down and under. A rhizome that jumps over the barrier on top will be obvious and can be easily pruned away. Most rhizomes situate themselves less than a foot underground but not always. A big fast spreading runner needs a 36 inch barrier. Often roots and other obstacles make trenching for a barrier difficult. Mowing can slow or even stop the spread since the emerging growth and foliage is constantly removed. No photosynthesis thus reduced growth. Eventually that rhizome will die back. It will be replaced by others. Mowing needs to be continued. Allow at least twenty feet away from the stand of bamboo to serve as the mowing barrier area. Do not count on this being 100 % effective.