How to prevent bamboo plant’s roots from spreading
The various cultivars and native species of Bamboo have waxed and waned in popularity over the decades. For a while, the glories of Japanese and Chinese Gardens were imported to the British isles and the US, including every instance of elegant bamboo screening and beauty. Inevitably, certain problems almost invariably showed up - almost always involving problems with rampant root expansion or else the issues of bamboo getting “too happy”, with where it was planted. ‘Acculturation to new geographies’ for some plants can often be a synonym for “Thriving beyond measure”.
Stop running bamboo rhizomes
Bamboos are divided into two very distinct root patterns: “Running bamboo” and “Clumping Bamboo”. Running Bamboos have a rather Imperialistic manner. They send out “rhizomes” - roots - which travel surprising distances and in water-hogging ways. In rainier climates, they can chew through a sidewalk or even cross under a street, simply because it can. Maintenance of these plants’ tendencies has historically involved “root pruning”. This implies digging down and find the expanding roots and rhizomes, then cutting them off. To say that this is ‘labor intensive’ is quite an understatement.
Clumping Bamboos have a far more manageable style. This varieties hold their roots closely without the rampant expansion of the “Running Bamboo”. Having said that, they also expand their very structure, growing at a reasonably rapid pace.
All Bamboo - it seems - grow rather rapidly. In the end, true maintenance involving this plant can most easily be accomplished upon planting them.
Root barriers for bamboo
Modern technology has provided us with an excellent product for containing these gorgeous plants. Plastic root barriers are now readily available with which to contain the expansive qualities of the more aggressive types and which can reduce root pruning to “never”. Set around 24-36” below grade, during the planting process - or retroactively, of course - these plastic containment mechanisms act to prohibit expansion.
The limits, in terms of distances, around which these barriers can act are limitless, since the barriers themselves are segmented and easily attachable by hand. This can provide a truly wonderful scenario as we watch the expansion take place and halt at out predetermined dimensions. This is real design in action.
The other truly marvellously efficient factor with barriers such as these is that many specialists in this product provide barriers which are also made completely from recycled plastic. As a Green Technology, this is a wonderful development.
Efficient and Green both are a wonderful way to design and build are most gorgeous gardens.