Most of us have heard (or seen) plenty of horror stories about bamboo gone wild…taking over yards, uprooting walkways, and sneaking into the foundation like a raving tentacled monster! Fall is a great time to plant bamboo to get your plants well established before winter, as fall is the season for root growth. So in the Halloween spirit, let’s face the monster head on and dispel some of those nasty fears about bamboo!

Not All ‘Boo Runs Wild

When you think of bamboo, it’s likely you think of the monopodial, or running type bamboo. Running bamboo grows quickly and spreads randomly, leading to the nightmare takeover (if not properly contained, more on that later) that makes folks scared to plant it. However, there are also sympodial, or clumping bamboos. Clumpers have a very short root structure and are genetically incapable of spreading more than a few inches a year! They require a bit more room all around, but they form discrete clumps that don’t require containment, unlike it’s runaway sister! Read more about clumpers and runners here.

Put That Monster in a Cage!

There are benefits to running bamboos, and you may not always have room for a clumper. But, never fear…runners can be easily and effectively restrained so they don’t end up scaring your neighbors! Running bamboos can grow very well (and surprisingly tall) in containers. Just make sure the container drains properly, and that any porous material is lined with plastic to help prevent water loss. You can also line wooden planter boxes with root barrier, and fill the bottom inch or so with lava rock to guarantee there’s no escape!

If you need a big stand of running bamboo in the ground, say, between houses or along a fenceline, the best way to prevent a jailbreak is by installing polyurethane root barrier in the planting trench. Thick plastic barrier prevents the shallow monopodial roots from spreading out underground, ensuring no property damage or bamboo popping up like medusa where you least expect it! The added effort of preparing the trench with barrier will prevent added headaches down the road…it is much harder and more expensive to remove a runner once it’s taken over than it is to effectively contain it right from the start!

With a little time and care, bamboo can be a friend rather than a foe…and we can help wrangle the beast! We sell root barrier and containers especially for bamboo. We also do planting and barrier installation, and can help you one on one with planning to ensure a lasting triumph!