When it comes to Bamboo, you either love it or hate it. Bamboo is truly a wonderful plant for the landscape. Depending on cultivar Bamboos can be 2-3 feet high ground covers great for erosion control to looming 60 foot tall monster timber with that enchanting, hollow tube sound when the high winds blow about and set them to swaying gracefully. Bamboo can be used as single specimens or for natural fencing, windbreaks, thick hedges, for screening unsightly views and as sound barriers. Unfortunately, it tends toward being rather invasive, thus we have a love-hate thing going.
This is unfortunate but being creative gardeners who never take no for an answer there must be a solution. So, how can a gardener have the lovely plant that is Bamboo in the landscape without allowing it free-rein? As any good gardener knows we are the ones in control and we can make Bamboo do things our way once we know a few tricks. Bamboo comes in two forms the clump forming and the running type. First, if you want a Bamboo that can be restrained without too much trouble run from the running type and latch onto the clump forming varieties. These are much easier to contain and many are slow growing. Having said that, there are still some things you can do to keep even running Bamboo from taking over.
It helps to know what will make them grow faster and what slows the growth. For instance, Bamboo grows to its highest limits if given ample moisture, provided with fertilizer and allowed to ramble. Deprive them of all these and you have a good chance of keeping them in check. Keep it thirsty and grow it in poor soil, devoid of nutrients and the Bamboo will behave. Planting Bamboo within a heavy metal barrier or large pots will confine the growth as well.
Bamboos are a bit of a contradiction as they like moisture but won’t grow in water and while they can be rather drought tolerant once established their rhizomes won’t spread into dry soil. Knowing this we might want to do some creative landscaping. How? Well, have you ever considered having a moat in your yard? Hear this out before you question my sanity. Planting the running form of Bamboo on a high spot and then making a ring of water around it would keep the Bamboo from going anywhere. The water would work well to keep it in-bounds and it’ll look extraordinarily new and different in the yard, like a tiny Bamboo island in the middle of a little pond. You could substitute dry sand if you prefer and it will accomplish the same thing, keeping the plant from expanding. Do you know anyone else with a moat in their landscape? You’ll be the talk of the neighborhood.
But if that’s too bizarre, you can still grow Bamboo in tubs, in sandy, poor soil and deprived of a bit of water and fertilizer. Now that’s how to have your Bamboo and the rest of your yard, too. Go for it!
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