Bamboo for Specific Uses

Bamboo for Privacy Screening

Custom bamboo containers along stairs with black bamboo

Bamboo is a great plant for visual privacy screens or evergreen hedges because it has a relatively small footprint, it’s tall, it’s alive and it grows fast, produces oxygen and sequesters carbon, and to top it off, it’s beautiful. Almost any species can be used for  screening, given that it will grow to the height you desire in the space that you can allow for it, and given that it is properly matched to your climate and growing conditions.

If you are looking for bamboo to screen a neighbor or unsightly view, there are a few things you should keep in mind. The answers to the below questions are particularly important for bamboo screens.

How much ground space do you have?  We recommend that you provide a growing area that is at least a two feet wide (the length of the area is less important). This will provide an “implied” screen, drawing your attention away from what ever is behind it. For a denser screen that fully blocks a view, four feet wide (or even more) is better. Be aware that some species need more space than others. It is also best to provide two feet of clearance between any surrounding structures and your containment barrier (for runners) or even more from the outer edge of your clumping bamboo, which usually needs a wider area. This space will protect your structures and allow for maintenance access. If you have a particularly narrow planting area, we can build you redwood planter boxes to your specifications, and this is sometimes the best containment option.

Custom built fence line planters in San Francisco complex

How tall do you want the screen to grow, ultimately?  Our price list has information on how tall each species gets here in the Bay Area, as well as in its climate of origin. These are offered as “known reference points”, but remember both height and diameter are effected by all aspects of your growing situation and climate: high and low temperatures, sun/shade exposure, humidity/aridity, water supplied, length of growing season, size of growing area, etc. For instance, small planting areas like planter boxes will produce smaller, slower growing bamboos.



How tall do you want the plants to be initially, and what’s your budget?  If you are looking for instant gratification, we can provide large, full-sized specimen plants which are generally more expensive. If you have some time and want to economize, you might want to start with smaller sizes. As noted above, if the growing conditions are less than optimal or the space is very limited, your bamboo will be smaller and slower growing, so you might want to start with larger plants initially.

Are there nearby structures such as sidewalks, foundations, fences, pipes in the ground, or wires overhead?  Is there a property line nearby?  The answers to these questions will influence your choice of bamboo type, containment method and species. Again, in all cases it is recommended that you leave at least few feet of space between your bamboo and any structure in the area. In the interest of neighborhood peace, we always recommend some form of containment like our root barrier for running bamboo planted near a property line  It is irresponsible and gives bamboo a bad name if you don’t!

Custom redwood planter

Is a runner or a clumper better in your situation?  For example, a clumper might be more appropriate if you have enough space and there are copious tree roots in the area, or where spot screening is needed instead of a long hedge. On the other hand, a runner might be preferred for a quick growing, less expensive screen in a narrower and longer area. If choosing a runner, consider what containment method you will use. Both runners and clumpers have maintenance needs over the long haul. For a more in-depth discussion about the pros and cons of both clumping and running types of bamboo, see our guide on Clumping vs. Running Bamboos.

What sun exposure does your site have, and how cold/hot does it get at your location? This will determine which species can do well at your location.  Minimum temperatures and sun/shade tolerances are listed on our PRICE LIST.

To search for recommended plants by your criteria, click here.