I want to use bamboo as a screen, but I’ve heard it can spread. Is this true and would it be easy to cut the stems back if it gets out of bounds?
Answer: Bamboo, while aesthetically pleasing with heaps of exotic charm, can quickly invade and overtake an area. This eccentric plant is a strong, vigorous tropical grass that can spread so swiftly it becomes very hard to control.
Although beautiful, sturdy and certainly capable of securing a yard, bamboo does not understand boundary lines and can rapidly overtake not just your yard but possibly your neighbor’s as well, and outlying wild areas. However, certain kinds of bamboo do not show these tendencies.
There are two main types of bamboo: clumping and running. When it comes to choosing the right variety for your yard, you want the clumping sort, because it is less aggressive, slower to grow and typically stays in tight clumps. Running species are more invasive and harder to control—they spread by their roots, which “run” out in every direction and send up stems along the way. When selecting bamboo for the garden, most species within the genus Fargesia are hardy, non-invasive and easy to control, because they are the clumping type.
Image: Michele Buzzi, Studio Cicero
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