Bamboo control consultation

My recent post about helping Ted dig out some bamboo resulted in another St. Louis resident to contact me with questions about controlling the spread of their bamboo. I visited their home this past weekend.


I noticed the two plantings of Yellow Groove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) as soon as I pulled up. They looked fairly large and quite mature, which always gets me excited. The bamboos in my yard will always be considered "accent plants", as they won't have enough room to spread and form groves like this.

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The planting next to the front entry is the main one, and even though it was kept pruned to a height of about 12 or 15 feet (3.6 - 4.5m) it looked very nice. The pruned look blended quite well with the house and other landscaping:


Looking at the back side of this grove, you can see where the owners attempted to contain the rhizomes with metal flashing -- the same sort of thing Ted did:



Although Ted's flashing appears to be working still, in this case it's not. The owners said that this planting was around 20 years old, which is more than double the age of Ted's planting -- plenty of time for the rhizomes to find gaps to escape and spread throughout the rest of the yard.

Which it has, evidenced by the tiny survival shoots and leaves in several places in the yard:


I explained to the owners that they'd have to trench around the existing plant, either to install rhizome barrier or just to make it easier to check for and prune rhizomes each year. In addition, they'd either need to dig up all of the now-severed rhizomes in their yard (and neighbor's), or just keep knocking down the shoots as they appear. The rhizome orphans will eventually run out of energy and die.

They were not discouraged by the amount of work digging a trench was going to be, as they would hire somebody to do it. They were quite relieved that there was a solution to the problem on this side of the house though.

The rhizomes have been escaping right along the house too, but they had been removing those -- they didn't get all of them though:


The owners love this bamboo but don't want to see it become a problem for others. Even though they said the neighbors were quite nice, nobody should be forced to deal with plants that they didn't want. Plus neighbors change, and future owners may not be so forgiving.

It is beautiful though! Provides shade and privacy:





On to the second planting on the other side of the house, which was "only" 15 years old but had been allowed to run further along the property line:



What makes this side trickier is the retaining wall along the property line:


It's seen better days, but even a beautiful solid new wall won't stop bamboo rhizomes:


This is in the neighbor's yard -- that's the retaining wall in the back.

The neighbor has a nice view though!

For some reason, the owners say that they've never seen shoots coming up into their own lawn from this planting. The spread has been along the property line (and into the neighbor's yard). I'm really puzzled as to why, as this planting is on the north property line, and south (into sunnier areas) is usually where more spread occurs:


Maybe the tree roots restrict the spread somehow, or there is a rocky patch of ground there to stop the rhizomes? A mystery.

The owners are considering reducing the size of this grove, as they feel it may have spread too far. The rhizomes have made it all the way to the street, 100' (30m) from the original planting area, more than 20' (6m) from the edge of the grove:


They may also break it up into a few smaller groves which can be trenched around. Their landscaping service will get some extra hours on this project for certain!


During our conversation they mentioned a bamboo planting less than a mile away which was "very thick". I was intrigued and had to see for myself:



That certainly is a privacy screen!

It's not the prettiest grove as there are lots of dead culms in there, but it gives them some relief from the sound of passing cars on this somewhat busy street. What a wall of bamboo!

I wonder how they control the spread of their plant? I also wonder why the utility companies didn't hack through this -- notice the bamboo right up against the wires -- unless they did a few years back and the bamboo has grown back already. Glad I saw this!


So another fun morning of helping people with bamboo control, and seeing some nice mature plantings!

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Gerhard Bock  – (March 20, 2012 at 10:58 AM)  

I get excited every time I see a large grove like that. You just don't see that around here, not even in the country. I guess it's because our climate is so arid and irrigating a large grove like that would cost a lot of money.

lilafee  – (March 21, 2012 at 7:21 PM)  

I was in Boston last week near Chinatown and noticed (because of your blog) small "groves" of bamboo in a pedestrian area being held straight up for the winter by metal scaffolding around each "grove". I think they also had a low bamboo in a garden in the same area.

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