Depending upon whether you choose a clumping or running variety of bamboo will determine how important it is to plant the bamboo correctly. Although both types of relatively easy to plant, it’s crucial that you plant running bamboo correctly in order to avoid it running elsewhere in your garden. The running variety produces rhizomes that spread horizontally, which can cause new shoots to pop up anywhere in the garden if not contained appropriately.
To help you plant bamboo correctly, we have created an easy to follow guide with photos taken from my actual garden where I planted a phyllostachys aurea type of bamboo (running variety).
Table of Contents
What You’ll Need
- Bamboo plants
- Root barrier
- Rotavator (optional)
- Access to water
How To Plant Bamboo
1. Position The Bamboo Plants
As shown in the above image, you want to spread out the bamboo plants to give you an idea of the trench size you need to create. Ideally, you should space the plants 2 to 3 feet apart because they will spread to form a dense screen.
2. Dig A Trench
By far the most time consuming part of planting bamboo is digging the trench. It’s advised that you dig a 50 to 60 cm deep trench ready for the root barrier to be installed. To help us create the trench, we used a garden rotavator, which certainly saved a lot of time and hassle when compared to using a spade.
3. Place The Root Barrier In Position
Now that the hard part is out of the way, you can begin to feed the root barrier into the trench. You will want to fully contain the area and ensure that the root barrier overlaps by at least 30 cm. It’s also advised that you leave a lip above the ground as this stops any rhizomes creeping over the surface. Depending upon the barrier you choose, you will need to point the green side facing towards the roots because this is the hard wearing side that prevents running rhizomes.
4. Plant The Bamboo Plants
With the root barrier in place, you can begin to fill the soil back into the trench that has been dug. Ideally, you should mix compost into the base before planting the bamboo and aim to have the bamboo sitting level with the ground or in a raised bed if this is the look you are going for. It’s also advised to firm the ground after planting to ensure they remain in place.
5. Add Compost And Start Water
Now that the bamboo has been planted, add a layer of compost over the top of the bamboo and begin to water it to eliminate any air pockets in the soil.
6. Trim Any Unwanted Root Barrier
Depending upon how well you managed to install the root barrier in the ground, you may wish to trim the top. As long as you leave at least 2 to 3 inches above ground level, anything that’s protruding any taller can be trimmed with scissors.
What Barrier To Use
For this particular example of planting bamboo, we used the TDP DuPont Root Control, which promises to be the strongest barrier on the market. When it arrived, it felt very high quality and I am confident that it will control any running rhizomes that travel underground. As you can see in the photo, it arrives in a compact roll with instructions on the packet on how to install the root barrier (which we followed in the above guide on how to plant bamboo).
In terms of what bamboo root barrier you should use, we advise that it’s between 60 to 70 cm in height and made from an impenetrable material. Before purchasing, it’s also advised that you measure the length of the bamboo trench and account for the additional 30 cm overlap that’s recommended during the installation.
Although using a root barrier to plant bamboo is the most recommended method, there are alternative methods. This can include using a large container and sinking it into the ground or even using concrete slabs as a barrier.
However, we would highly advise using a high quality plastic root barrier to plant bamboo and we did so in our very own garden (as shown in the guide). Failing to contain a running variety of bamboo can be highly frustrating and new shoots can pop out of anywhere. For example, we posted on our Instagram an example of a bamboo shooting through concrete in a nearby lane by our house as shown below. This is a prime example of how invasive bamboo can really be.
As long as you plant bamboo correctly, it’s a low maintenance plant that creates an excellent feature in your garden. Bamboo is also fast growing and ideal for screening, which was the main reason we chose bamboo to plant in our garden.
If you are worried about planting bamboo due to the running rhizomes, you can always check the underground around the barrier with a spade. This is because the rhizome only tend to sit at the top 20 cm of the soil. Therefore, by simply digging downwards with a spade around the trench a few times a year ensures there is no rhizome growth underground and also provides you with complete peace of mind.