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How to Contain Bamboo Roots

One of the most distinguishable characteristic of bamboo is its root system. The root system is comprised of rhizomes. Rhizomes migrate to new places to create new territories underground and travel upwards every year. This spreading of roots or rhizomes is of two categories; running and clumping.

Running bamboo has self-propagating rhizomes, which can spread 20 feet through the soil in just one season. It can spread in any direction and they spread rapidly if you do not control them, which can be a problem if you are growing bamboo in a specified space. In order to overcome the spreading, you will need to install a physical barrier, which is one of the ways on how to contain bamboo roots. However Clumping bamboo do not spread as fast and tend to stay close to the central plant. Rather than growing horizontally, the roots grow in curves forming hedges, which is a great way to create privacy. Clumping bamboo does not need to be contained with a physical barrier, but all bamboo requires containing and maintenance.

There are two ways to contain bamboo roots, the first is using physical barriers and the second is by cultural methods. There are two types of cultural methods that can be used. The first method is cutting the growing shoots near the plant in spring and the other method is cutting a grove in the roots during the summer. However, cultural methods are highly labor intensive and require maintenance every year otherwise the roots may grow out of control and will require more work. That is why the physical barrier is preferred.

The main advantage of a physical barrier is that it is permanent and requires minimal maintenance once it is installed. In order to install the barrier, there are 8 steps to follow. The first thing to do is to determine the containment area. Depending on the species of the bamboo the containment area will vary, however most species requires 1 square yards to grow successfully. Then you will need to purchase the barrier and the most common one that is used is High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). You can easily purchase it from bamboo suppliers and they come in different sizes and thickness. Make sure you don’t purchase a barrier that is smaller than 24 inches. The third step that you need to take is to remove the existing rhizomes by digging around the containment area. This dug area will help you dig the trench for the barrier to be installed in. if you are installing a 24 inch barrier, you will need to dig a 22 inch deep trench.

Once you have dug the trench, you will need to insert the barrier in an outward direction so that the rhizomes do not travel under the barrier. After inserting the barrier, you will need to seal it by using stainless strips or double sided tapes to secure the bottom to the ground. The trench needs to be filled with soil and compost. Lastly, you will need to keep a close eye to see whether any rhizomes have escaped in order to prevent further spreading.

These two methods on how to contain bamboo roots are highly used, so make sure you choose the right type of bamboo for your garden according to the space you have and that you contain it accordingly.

Be sure to read our bamboo blog for bamboo related information.